Mixed TomatoesAs we approach the end of the season, it’s a one page newsletter this week and until the end of September.

You Like Tomato, I Like Tomato!
It’s been said that if you have ten tomato growers in a room and ask a question about growing tomatoes, you’ll get ten different answers!

I suppose the reason is because there are many ways to grow tomatoes and many methods that will achieve the same results.

As we approach the middle of September it’s a good time to think about saving a few seeds to sow next season.

Why Save Your Own Seeds?
It’s not just the cost of the seeds, but knowing that you’ll be growing exactly the same strain of a variety. Too often I’ve bought seeds from different sources and have experienced different results that were because of the seeds and not the growing conditions.

So when you save your own seeds, you’ll know exactly what to expect next season – unless a friendly bee has cross pollinated your flowers of course!

F1’s and F2’s
It’s common practice to save seeds from open pollinated or heirloom varieties only. Hybrid F1 varieties can produce inconsistent results when their seeds have been saved, and sown a following season as a second generation F2’s.

However, more than one tomato grower has reported good results from F2 seeds and with the cost of F1 seeds rising, it may be worth sowing a couple of your own F2’s saved from your F1 fruit.

Seeds for Grafting
Rootstock seeds for grafting are very expensive so I’ve grown a rootstock (Aegis) plant and saved the seeds. It should still provide the benefits of disease resistance etc.

I think it could be a good idea to use an ordinary open pollinated variety for rootstock such as Roma VF. It’s still disease resistant but a lot cheaper – especially when it can be difficult to get the grafts to heal.

Soil and Organics
One of the benefits of organic growing, or adding well rotted stuff to the soil, is that it encourages microbial activity – friendly bacteria and fungi that help roots absorb nutrients.

The contents of grow bags and bags of multipurpose compost can be inconsistent, even to the point of ruining your plants in some cases! However, the cheapest peat-free is best avoided in my experience.

If you upgrade your bought compost by adding some good organic material it should provide the best growing conditions for plant roots. I used to add a handful of chicken manure pellets to each container and a handful of perlite with good results – I don’t know why I stopped doing it!

However, if you make your own compost it’s best not to include any green matter that has been affected by fungal disease, as fungal spores can survive from one season to another.

Tomato Taste
The weather has been very good recently in my part of the world and the Black Cherry tomatoes are tasting lovely. One variety that I’m growing for the first time is Large Red Cherry, a very vigorous tall variety but the taste of the tomatoes is disappointing – Gardener’s Delight would have been a better choice – but you don’t know until you grow it yourself!


Please leave a comment below if you would like to. If you are on Facebook, you can make a comment on tomato growing there also if you wish.


7 Responses

  1. Jimmy Ong
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I grow tomatoes in pots using compost I made from dried leaves/some green kitchen wastes plus some chicken dung pallets and eggshell powder. The seedlings grow very, very slowly with very thin stems. They end up very tall and unproductive. Most of them just wither off and die amidst fruiting. Please tell me what’s wrong with my plants or is it a soil problem? TQ

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jimmy, It sounds like it may be the soil or very low light.

  2. R.G. Crookham (Bob)
    | Reply

    Hello Nick. I am only a novice at tomatoe growing, my second season, and have had good results considering the weather we have had here in the N.W.(Preston). This year I grew 6 plants from seed which I had bought,Igrew them outside,after the frosts, and they have done well, plenty of fruit but still green, however, I have lost the packet and dont know what they are. they are a good size and pear shaped with like ridges running down them. I’m grasping at straws but can you help. Regards Bob.

  3. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Just made seeds from Shirley F2 and Alicante F1 grown in pots this week. The Shirley F2s in soil are finally looking a bit like blight. Will ripen the rest of the fruit inside. They did well outside and F1 seeds germinated brilliantly. Soaking them in seaweed diluent before drying and storing, then again before germinating did well for me.

  4. David
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Good choice subject for this week’s newsletter! You may recall my post a few weeks ago about all my tomatoes having been wiped out by blight on the allotment. Two plants nevertheless managed to survive; one is now on its last legs, the other is going “great guns”!

    I’ve commented to several people during this last week that I’ve thought of saving a couple of the tomatoes for seed that I can sow next year. Do you think it’s worthwhile? Do you think there is a possibility that the disease resistance of this particular plant might be carried over in its genes in the seeds for next year?

    I think the plants in question may be ‘Gardener’s Delight’. Three years ago my friend, whose allotment I’ve been sharing, planted some of this variety & when we had late blight that year these plants resisted for longer before succumbing. I planted some on my plot this year, but as I also planted 4 other varieties, all F1s, I think two plants of ‘Gardener’s Delight’ got confused & were planted in different rows to the other 9 plants, none of which resisted the blight.

    I’d love to know what you, & others, think about this.

    Happy gardening


    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi David,
      I think it’s a good idea to save the seeds if the plant has shown disease resistance – especially if it has out-blighted the F1’s which are usually more resistant to disease than an open pollinated variety.
      I shall definitely be growing Gardener’s Delight next season along with a few other traditional varieties from the UK.

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