Welcome to the first Newsletter of 2014 … the start of a new tomato season is just around the corner!
With only around six weeks to go until the middle of March – a very good time for sowing tomato seeds in the UK – if you haven’t yet decided which varieties to grow, here are a few suggestions (right).
I guess that many of us would grow them all if we had enough space! I find choosing easier if I start by making a list of the ones I won’t grow again this season. There’s nothing like personal experience to find out which varieties do well (or badly) in your own part of the world.
Of course it depends greatly on the kind of summer we have. A very good summer, as we had last year, can take us by surprise. Instead of concerning ourselves with blight and the other wet weather diseases, after six years of wet summers, most of us in the UK had an excellent harvest!
This gave our plants the opportunity to show what they could do … if they didn’t perform well in 2013, maybe it’s time to give a few other varieties a try.
The difficulty is knowing if we are in for a wet season, and therefore choose blight tolerant and early varieties, or a dry season and go for the more professional, fussy ones that only do well if conditions are good … it’s a bit of a gamble!
If you are like me, you may decide to grow a selection of varieties for different weather conditions (hedging your bets) in the hope that whatever happens you’re covered.
There’s never been a better time to grow tomatoes organically.
There are more organic seed varieties available this season and organic composts too.
Until recently, the selection of organic seeds in the UK was very limited but now it seems that more seed retailers are jumping on the organic band-wagon …. “wagons roll!”
Of course if you wish to be truly organic, you’ll need to germinate seeds in an organic medium and use organic potting composts throughout the season.
You’ll need to feed with organic food and if necessary, spray with organic (or home made) sprays if plants are attacked by aphids or disease.
Because soil microbes eat the organic material and turn it into food that plants can absorb, it’s important not to sow too early because conditions are too cold for soil microbes to develop.
Lots more about organic growing in the coming newsletters!
On A Budget
We grow tomatoes for different reasons including taste, health, the love of it etc.
Some gardeners grow vegetables to save money – it’s always fun to add up how many tomatoes we grew during a season and how much they would have cost in the supermarket – if we could buy them at the quality we grew them!
Each week, we’ll have money saving tips, and if you have any, please leave them in the comments below.
For now, a few yoghurt and food containers could be very handy in March and April.
This season there’ll be a sow-along using the money saving tips. With the most basic equipment, we’ll make it as simple as possible for everyone to join in – starting March.
Also in the newsletter this season, there will be sections on:
- Beginners Tips
- Auto Watering
- Nutrients – Organic and Synthetic
- Technical Tips
There are many new products on the market including watering valves and different types of containers designed to optimise growing conditions – and designed to get us to part with our money! We’ll look at a few and see how useful they are.
Plant nutrition (feeding tomatoes) is a fascinating subject and will be regularly included.
Then there’s the biology bit – not very helpful unless we can apply it in a practical way. Next week we’ll start with leaf stomata (the holes mainly on the underside of leaves) and how we can improve foliar feeding and help protect leaves at the same time.
Past newsletter information can be accessed from the menu bar at the top of the page, as the weeks go by. The idea is to make the information topical and relevant for the time of the season.
See you next week when we’ll delve a lot deeper!
PS If you would like to make a comment below on anything to do with tomato growing, it would be great to hear from you!
Gardener’s Delight – an old favourite that did very well last season. A good balance of sugar and acid but not as sweet as some of the newer varieties.
Sungold – very sweet and it has become a favourite cherry with many gardeners.
Black Cherry – looks great, tastes great … lovely!
Sun Cherry Premium – like Sungold it is very sweet and prolific.
Rosada – I’ve yet to try this one but it has a very high Brix (sweetness) rating – Sungold is 9.3, Rosada is 10.5 (stats from the RHS).
Red Alert – my top cherry/bush variety and the taste is as good as any other of its type.
Sweet Olive – another bush variety with a good reputation.
Maskotka – very similar to Red Alert but slightly later to mature.
Tumbler – can compete with Red Alert for taste and earliness if grown in a large container.
Tiger Tumbler – great things are expected this season!
Legend – one of the few medium/large tomatoes of the bush type.
Black Sea Man – another bush variety … we’ll see what it can do this season.
Oregon Spring – one of my larger favourites, and surprisingly early for its size.