At the end of each season I try and decide on the varieties to grow again next season and those that aren’t really worth all the effort.

For me, the star performers grown outdoors were Red Alert (bush), Maskotka (bush) and Stupice (tall) – I highly recommend these varieties.

Slow To Mature
I still have some plants that have yet to produce their first ripe fruit. Red Cluster Pear has been very slow to mature – probably because there are so many tomatoes on the plants, they are slowing each other down!

Problem Diagnosis
If you grow only one variety or just one type of tomato plant, when a problem arises, it makes it more difficult to find the cause of the problem.

For example, cherry tomatoes do not usually suffer from Blossom End Rot which is caused by calcium deficiency.

If you have tomatoes that have dark marks and look rotten on the inside and all your plants are affected except the cherry varieties, it is highly likely that it is not tomato blight but a calcium deficiency. A lack of calcium can present itself in more ways than just BER and sometimes show a dark layer or ring inside the flesh wall.

Several Problems At The Same Time
Outdoor tomatoes often suffer from several problems at the same time, such as magnesium deficiency, nitrogen deficiency and under developed roots owing to over-watering (by rain or watering can).

This may lead to several different fungal diseases and a lack of nutrients available to plant roots – all at the same time!

When problems are compounded, the poor old plants have to struggle through the rain, put up with soaking wet soil and near starvation, but still do their best to fulfill their destiny, and that is to produce fruit with seeds inside to continue the next generation – it’s tough being a tomato plant!

On a Curious Note …
Some varieties performed strangely this season – I have one Tumbling Tom plant that is producing red tomatoes with yellow stripes! I’ve saved the seeds to see how it performs next season.

The Latah plants have been a constant source of amusement, producing tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. I won’t say where I got the seeds from, but they are definitely unstable. However, I’ve saved the seeds from the biggest and best shaped toms and hope to produce something more consistent over the next season or two.

When two varieties are crossed, Moneymaker and Sungold for example, they would become a Moneygold or a Sunmaker. The seeds from the fruit of the first generation (F1’s) grow as a hybrid, then it takes five or six seasons (generations) for the seeds from those tomatoes to produce consistent fruit – in size and shape etc.

Unstable Seeds
It can be fun growing tomatoes that are unstable because you get all-sorts of weird looking fruit, some of which taste amazing and some taste dodgy!

If you have the patience you can pick the best toms each season, save their seeds and over five seasons or so, develop your own variety.

What would you call a variety that you had created? I think I would call mine “Old Nick” or maybe “In The Nick Of Time”.

Tomatoes Split – Unfortunately
Have you ever wondered why tomatoes split? You probably know the answer, which is, they get too much water and the inside swells and breaks the skin.
But have you ever thought … my tomatoes are growing in containers and grow bags and get much more water every day through regular watering than when it rains – so why do they still split?

If you think you know the answer, please leave a comment below and I’ll send you some tomato seeds for free if your answer is a good one  – it doesn’t have to be the right answer! (UK only for free seeds).

The last newsletter for this season will be in two weeks time on the 1st October so if you have any suggestions for next season on how I might improve the website (nice ones please!), have a think and let me know.

Regards,
Nick

28 Responses

  1. Colin Dewhurst
    | Reply

    Hi, I have grown from seed the usual popular tomatoe varieties, and for the last 2 years suffered from leave droop as soon as we get a hot spell. I prick out in 3 inch pots and when about a foot high then plant into grow bags or 12 inch pots and keep them well watered. When I have lifted the plants when finished I have just noticed that the roots have not grown far into the grow bags. I use the growbag soil to pot up, maybe I should pot up into young plant soil and try and water the bags less. Anyone had these problems, thanks for your helpful site, Colin

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Colin,
      Your idea of giving less water is a good one because over watering will prevent roots from developing fully.
      You may find that young plants become pot bound if left for too long in 3 inch pots – I would pot up again to 4 or 5 inch pots before their final position.
      Sometimes, young plants will wilt if they are not used to direct sunlight on a hot day, if their roots are not yet established.
      Best wishes,
      Nick

  2. Nic
    | Reply

    Hi – It’s my first go this year. I don’t know which variety we had – they were the ones my kids got from their Red Nose Day grow-pots!
    It all started well, lots of growth and fruits – none split, but a horrid case of blight in which I lost 2/3 of the crop. The remaining ones have only just started ripening, but taste delicious.
    I was not very good at regular watering and tended to flood the grow-bags to compensate. I have no experience but am guessing some tomatoes split when the plant has had lots of water which grows/swells the fruit, then it craves more nutrients so tries to suck up more – but if the bag is water-logged all it gets is more water, so they burst their skins?
    Thanks for a great site!

  3. Avril
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I have grown Sweet Million, Gardeners Delight and Sungold this year. Sweet Million seems to be prone to leaves curling leaves upwards and Gardeners Delight very prone to splitting after picking.
    My reasons for toms splitting is watering after dry soil and temperature. When taken from a warmer environment, a tomato skin shrinks quicker than the flesh inside, which can cause spliting.
    Thanks for all your guidance over the season!
    Avril

  4. Susheela
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    I wonder if you could help me. This was my first experience with an allottment. I grew Sungold and marmalade. The plants thrived well and produced lots of fruits. Then a week in August I saw the stems turning black and then all the fruits turned black. I inspected my neighbours plots and found they had the same problem and we all had to distroy the plants. Is this what they call tomatoeblight?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Susheela,
      You describe the classic symptoms of tomato blight – the leaves and stems turn black first followed by the fruit.
      The only way to avoid it in wet conditions is to spray regularly with Dithane.
      Best wishes,
      Nick

      • Dr.A.K Upadhayay
        | Reply

        hai susheela
        dithane m-45 is the best solution.dont try much of other pesticides, it may deteriorate the condition
        Dr.A.K Upadhayay

        • Susheela Robinson
          | Reply

          Thank you for your advice. I will try it next time

      • Susheela Robinson
        | Reply

        Thank you Nick I will try it next summer

  5. roy lether
    | Reply

    this is my 1st year so im learning as im going but i have noticed that my sungold toms. have only split within a day or so of really heavy rain especialy those in grow bags rather than in large pots. the rest of the time none have split. i eat the ones which split immediately and think they have the best flavour! all the plants are currently producing at a rate of 5 or more fully ripe toms, per day so i cant eat enough of them. hopefully this might be of some help?

  6. Sharon
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I always thought it was down to morning dew. It always seems to happen to the ripe ones over the ones that are orangey red and I put it down to the skins being thinner? Be interesting to know the real answer!

  7. Roy
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    Re splitting tomatoes.
    1.Fluctuations in watering.
    2.Heavy watering after period of no water.
    3.Peroid of dry weather then heavy rain.
    4Ripening during a spell without water.
    5Heat can cause the skin to split,liquid in a tomato gets hot
    and expands.Shade during very hot days.
    Roy.

  8. John Ferrier
    | Reply

    Noticed lots of comments about green tomatoes and offer this solution.
    Try a “Green Chicken” recipe, Of Mexican origin with lots of various recipes on the internet.
    If you grow chillies and peppers and have a few still green, here is a use for them. If you try it, let me know what you think.
    Regards,
    John

  9. Jessie Allaway
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    My experience this year (greenhouse toms only) has been that many varieties have produced irregular sizes of tomatoes which is most unusual. Gardeners Delight, Tigerella and Alaskan Fancy have some huge tomatoes on them, likewise Sungold with some fruit twice the usual size but with many many tiny tomatoes on them as well. We have had so little sun in the last two months I am wondering if that is to blame or would it more likely be the seed?

  10. Deborah-Jane
    | Reply

    It is September 17th. I have a lot of green cherries, but only one or two have gone red! I would guess that it’s lack of sun, but we’ve had quite a lot in the South.
    Does anyone have a green tomato chutney recipe?

  11. Trevor Coombe
    | Reply

    In my experience there are three reasons why you get split:

    1. Irregular watering. (Something you can control).
    2. Lack of nutrients. (Toms need feed)!
    3. Large fluctuations in temperature. (Down to the weather)!

    TC.

  12. johann
    | Reply

    Tomatoes split? Has it something to do with the heat from the sun and the amount of water it is fed.?Like this summer I have had allot of rain, and a few sunny days in between with that, I have noticed that after a few hot days and then rain the tomatoes split. Or is it simply that after a regular watering and then a down poor or rain the skin splits? Irregular watering?

  13. Bob Iles
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    just thought I’d let you know, I grew a variety this year called Hillbilly, they throw loads of huge weird shaped fruits. I won the heaviest tomato in our local show and it absolutely dwarfed all the beef varieties. Regards Bob.

  14. Dave
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    With regards to tomatoes and splitting, it seems to be the age old answer,Bad Watering,
    If you water toms in grow bags or pots you can very well flood them, and that can be very bad, on the other end you could be like my next door lady gardener who will water all her plants with a milk bottle full of water and use that pint to water 5/10 plants and wonder why they die. A lot of gardeners plant toms etc out side in the garden so the rain does most of the watering, very bad news for the plants, and if it rained very very heavy it would only soak the top half inch if lucky, so the gardener then soak the ground with a can of water or hose, then the toms split. I think most people forget in a hot dry summer the ground is so dry that it cracks and any heavy rain can sit on top and it will evaperate. I purchased a miosture meter that I find very handy.

  15. Amanda Roman
    | Reply

    Dear Nick

    Have the money maker tomatoes. It is the first tome I have grown them this year. Slow to ripen .
    Have lots of green tomatoes. Placed some on my sunny window in kitchen and two have ripened and taste lovely. Should i remove the rest soon as the plant itself is still flowering?

    Kind regard amanda

  16. Suzanne
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    I’m growing tumbling toms on my windowsill, and I usually water about every 2 days. And yes I have noticed some red toms have split, while the green ones are perfectly fine. I wonder if this is because the green ones need the water to keep growing until ripe, but the already ripe ones don’t need as much water to grow anymore (expand) so they split as they’re filled with too much water? I pick them when they’re red now rather than let them hang onto the vine for too long.

  17. john wheeler
    | Reply

    think tomatoes split because they have been allowed to go dry at the roots which causes the fruit to stop swelling.When watered there is a surge of sap(for want of a better word) to the fruit which causes them to split .

  18. Janet Border
    | Reply

    Perhaps the tomatoes split when in a growbag because there isn’t enough drainage?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Janet,
      I’ll respond to the question when more people have offered an answer.
      Best wishes,
      Nick

  19. Chris Bishop
    | Reply

    I recently went on holiday and asked my son to water my plants every couple of days.
    I rang him after a couple of weeks to see if everything was alright.
    He said that it had been raining on and off and had not gone round.I wasn’t pleased.He went round the next day but the damage had been done.We arrived home the day after to pick up the pieces.
    I have picked all the red ones,pulped them in batches an frozen them.
    I will be growing this variety next year. (Maskota)

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Chris,
      I used an automatic watering system this season for the first time. It took ages to set up but it worked OK.
      Maskotka has a really nice taste and it’s a good idea to freeze them, especially if you have too many to eat or they have been damaged.
      Regards,
      Nick

  20. Janet
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I’ve grown Alicante for the first time ever of growing tomatoes, and I have grown them outside. The plants have lovely, big green tomatoes on them – with no sign of ripening. Should I now give up on them and pick them to make green chutney? I have the recipe ready!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Janet,
      I would leave a third on the plant, put a third in a large bowl with a ripe banana or two and with the rest I would make green chutney!
      Regards,
      Nick

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