How to tell one tomato variety from another!
It is so easy to lose track of which tomato plant is which, at this time of the season.
Here are a few ways to tell tomato varieties apart – if you lose the labels.
Bush or Indeterminate (tall) variety?
Given that plants haven’t become leggy, the height of bush varieties such as Tumbling Tom is going to be less than than a Gardener’s Delight from around six weeks on.
This will give an indication too, whether the plant is a bush or a tall variety. Side shoots on most determinate (bush) plants start to show between six to eight weeks.
Spotting the difference between tall varieties
It is easy to tell the difference between a Gardener’s Delight and a Moneymaker.
Flower bud size
The flower buds on a tall cherry will be smaller than the flower buds on a medium or large variety.
Notice also the shape of each variety’s leaves – the seed leaves of a Gardener’s Delight has a very distinctive shape -Spitfire wings!
Some varieties will show a darker green leaf colour than others – given exactly the same growing conditions and nutrients.
Plants that produce larger tomatoes, often require more nitrogen and magnesium and therefore display a slightly lighter leaf colour compared to a smaller tomato plant.
Plants that produce larger tomatoes will also require more calcium in order to avoid Blossom End Rot too!
Aaaah Rennie (‘Allo ‘Allo?)
One option, to add calcium and magnesium, is to dissolve an indigestion tablet that contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate when you water.
These don’t dissolve very well so it is best to water them into the soil rather than a reservoir.
The best option is Chempak Calcium and a separate box of Westland’s Epsom Salts (magnesium) but this of course is more expensive.
The value in growing more than one variety
Not only do we get an assortment of colours, shapes, sizes and flavours – we get to be able to make comparisons.
When issues arise, we are able to compare one variety with another, which can often provide answers.
For example, my Lizzano plants have dark green healthy leaves – even on the lowest branches.
My Crimson Crush plants have lighter leaves – especially on the lowest branches and look as if they need a higher dose of nutrients. If I didn’t have a comparison or experience, I may think that the Crimson Crush was perfectly OK.
Of course varieties differ in appearance and leaf colour, but comparison is a very helpful way of being able to tell if more or less of something – nutrients, water etc., is required.
Not all tomato plants are the same …
The more flesh the fruit has, the more calcium a plant will need.
Plum varieties such as San Marzano and Roma contain a lot of flesh and are great for frying – lovely with an English breakfast!
By the way, there is a tomato variety called Britain’s Breakfast!
These are all fleshy, meaty varieties – less juice more flesh and great for cooking.
Calcium is needed throughout the growing cycle of a tomato plant but deficiency as the tomatoes swell in size, will produce Blossom End Rot. As soon as the first flowers set, and pea-like tomatoes appear, it is the time to make sure plants have enough calcium.
A Rennie every week to ten days (per grow bag) should be enough for medium and large varieties.
So far I have never had BER on a cherry tomato – they don’t need a lot of calcium, unless they are a fleshy variety.
The weather this week
In my part of the world we have had a lot of rain and I have spotted a touch of early blight.
This isn’t a big issue and leaves can be removed and plant performance unaffected. It’s the late blight, later in the season – towards the end of July – that we need to worry about.
Let’s hope we get a summer with a little rain (we don’t want another hose pipe ban!) and a lot of sun!
I hope that your plants are doing well…