I guess many gardeners grow the same varieties each year and choose the old favourites such as Gardener’s Delight and Sungold.

Sungold in Quadgrow Planter
Sungold in Quadgrow Planter

New Varieties
You can understand why this is so, especially at this time of the season, when that “big write-up” in the seed catalogue about a great new variety, didn’t quite describe the results you now see before you!

I’m a sucker for a buying too many varieties each season but not all live-up to expectations.

Comparing Results
However, this is a good season for comparison because if you don’t get a good harvest and taste from a variety with the weather we’ve had this summer so far in the UK, it’s probably one to avoid growing in future.

Seed Catalogue Descriptions
If you were a writer for the description of each variety in a seed catalogue, what would you say?

Moneymaker – a reliable variety with a disappointing taste!

Brandywine – don’t grow this variety in a poor summer or you’ll end up with very little to show for it!

Sungold – the sweetest variety around but ripe fruit splits like mad after a downpour of rain!

Tumbling Tom – a great cherry variety when it gets going but has trouble setting in variable temperatures!

Red Alert – is an excellent cropper with a great taste but becomes very leggy as a seedling in low light.

Money Delight – just throw a seed out of the kitchen window in early spring and by July you’ll have the largest harvest of the tastiest tomatoes in the universe – and if you use x-brand food, they’ll be the biggest too!

I’m sure you could come up with a few descriptions from your experience too. Please write one in the comments below if you would like to!

When I read the seed catalogues I should just look at the pictures!

Recording Results
This season is an ideal season to measure results – both in quantity and quality, so keeping a record of the best performers and their individual characteristics is a good idea.

As the seasons go by, you’ll know which ones work best for you and hopefully improve on the success of the previous season.

Points to include could be:

  • Earliness of flowering and fruit setting
  • Quantity of fruit and uniformity of size on the trusses
  • Tendency for blossom end rot
  • Tendency for blight – hopefully we won’t need that one if we don’t get any long periods of rain.
  • Tendency to split when it rains or is watered heavily.
    The taste!

Growing Conditions
For years I grew outside without a greenhouse or polytunnel and I experienced most of the diseases available! The harsher the conditions in which you grow your tomato plants, the more you learn about diseases and how to prevent them – or you give up.

Even if we can grow under cover, as amateur tomato growers we are still unable to create the growing conditions that the professionals have … growing in a temperature controlled greenhouse with all the extras such as timed drip watering/feeding and carbon dioxide pumped into the air to stimulate growth.

However, we can still look forward to a successful harvest by using affordable methods that encourage the best possible growth within our budget.

Autopot easy2grow and the Quadgrow Planter
One such method is to use a self-watering/feeding system such as the autopot easy2grow system or quadgrow planter. Both are very good and help prevent a number of problems associated with growing tomatoes such as correct watering and feeding and almost no chance of Blossom End Rot.

Autopot easy2grow
Autopot easy2grow system

Here are a few benefits of the Autopot and Quadgrow systems.

  • Helps prevent over/under-watering.
  • Plants have access to nutrients 24/7.
  • Roots are kept healthy as long as a 50/50 ratio or soil perlite is used.
  • No electricity involved so cheap to run.
  • Great for holidays as watering/feeding is automatic.
  • Will last for years if maintained properly.
  • The results of both systems are excellent!
Quadgrow Planter
Quadgrow Planter

Initial outlay is expensive, but if you want to take tomato growing to the next level, either of these systems would be a good investment for next season.

The Autopot easy2grow system can be expanded by adding more pots.

For those on a tight budget, it’s possible to copy some of the methods used in the two systems at very little cost – see previous newsletter.  I know that some of you have already developed your own method of watering such as standing pots on gravel filled trays.

The Container Size Myth
There is a myth about growing tomatoes in containers and grow bags which is … “The bigger the container, the better the results.”

The container size is only relevant for those who grow tomatoes in the “most modest way”. The extra room in a large container helps to prevent tomato plants from being killed with kindness or neglect.

That’s not you of course!

  • You know about the importance of oxygen for the roots and the dangers of over watering.
  • The benefits of feeding little and often.
  • Of having water available 24/7 so plants can feed and drink whenever they want, depending on temperatures and transpiration.
  • The importance of soil and water pH.
  • And lots more!

I guess we all have to start our tomato growing experience somewhere – usually in the dark and learn as we go along. Often it’s the disasters that motivate us on to greater things, where one day in spite of the weather, we’ll always get a great crop!

If we get a few days of continuous wet weather, watch out for tomato blight – brown patches on leaves that go up to the leaf edges.

I hope you are picking plenty of tomatoes!