It’s been said that if you have ten tomato growers in a room and ask a question, you’ll get ten different answers!

The truth is, each tomato variety has its own growing requirements – one variety may need completely different growing conditions compared to another.

It’s hard to believe that there is so much difference between tomato plant varieties – but there is!

The video below has nothing to do with tomatoes – well almost nothing but I can’t resist it!

An Italian variety like Costoluto needs a heated greenhouse or an Italian’s back garden to flourish.

Stupice, Red Alert, Glacier, Alaskan Fancy and Siberia do very well in cooler areas – given some of these names it’s not surprising!

Q. So what happens if we grow Glacier or Siberia in Italy?
A. The plants will need to be shaded from the hot sun for most of the day.

Q. What happens if we grow Costoluto outdoors in Scotland?
A. Very little unfortunately – you’ll be lucky to get two or three tomatoes that are far from their true taste!

Your Own Experience
My advice is to find the varieties that grow well in your area and from that selection, the ones that are tops for taste.

As we come towards the end of August it’s a good time to save seeds and note down the success’s and failures of this season.

Saving Tomato Seeds
I normally use this glass for a different purpose, but it’s ideal for saving seeds!

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!

It’s well known that bees help pollinate flowers but some varieties are more difficult or slower to pollinate and set fruit than others.

This season proved this beyond doubt when Red Alert was setting its fruit within days of flowering, yet Tumbling Tom took weeks for the flowers to set!

This had a negative effect on plans to compare the five Tumbling Toms and their different growing and feeding plans.
The tomatoes on these varieties have only just started to ripen, yet I’ve been picking ripe Red Alert toms since the middle of June.

Tomato Taste
Nevertheless, one of the main reasons we grow our own is because of the taste.
Red Alert, Maskotka, Latah and Stupice performed tops for taste this season, and the more regularly grown varieties like Golden Sunrise and Moneymaker were disappointing for flavour.

Still, I guess that’s why it’s good to grow a number of varieties – some will be successful and others less so, but you should still get a good crop – hopefully!

That’s it for this week – my thanks to Rosemary and Julian for the seeds … Santa came early this morning – aka the postman!


17 Responses

  1. Paul Jobling
    | Reply


    Thanks for the regular newsletters and excellent website again this season. I’ve scaled back my garden tomato farm from around 50 plants indoors and out last year to 11 this year and haven’t given them quite the time they deseved but results have still been pretty good.
    I hope you’ll carry on the good work with the website next year.

    All the best,

    Paul Jobling

  2. Ted Sherriff
    | Reply

    Saving Seeds.
    Dear Nick.
    I have had very good results with alternative paper towel method, which is simple and quick.Seeds are placed straight from the tomato onto a piece of paper kitchen towel in rows aprox. 1 inch apart and allowed to dry overnight. Next day, write the name of the Tomato on the paper and fold carefully and store in a cool dark place.When required for sowing simply lay a strip of seeds on some moist compost and sprinkle some more compost over, as with loose seeds..80% success.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Ted,
      That sounds like a very good idea and an easy way to save a number of seeds.

  3. bill
    | Reply

    Nick can you help this is my first time growing tomatoes and there are plenty of them (plum) and some quite large but i have only had about half a dozen because they dont want to ripen and are all green except those that i picked can you give me some advice

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Bill,
      Make sure that you have stopped the plants by pinching out the growing tips, remove all side shoots and leaf branches up to the first truss.
      Also, you could feed tomato food at every other watering – at your own toms risk of course – for a couple of weeks. This should help them ripen more quickly.

  4. johann
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    I have never tried the Red Alert, but from what I have read I certainly will try them next year. And thank you for the tip on saving the tomato seeds, it is something I have wanting to do for some time but not knowing what to do has kept me away from it. After this I certainly will try it.

  5. Terry Cooney
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I like your tip with the ripe banana to ripen green toms. Should you put a cover on the bowl to keep the gases in or is that over doing things ?
    I will certainly try Red Alert next year. It sounds like a very nice tom.
    Thank you once again for all your advise.
    Best regards, Terry.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Terry,
      I don’t bother with a cover but fortunately I do like bananas!
      I used to grow Red Alert every season, but the last few seasons I’ve been using the space to try out as many different varieties as I can squeeze in my garden. I will certainly be growing Red Alert next year!

  6. Olga
    | Reply

    Hi Nick. Your weekly news is very helpful and I would like to ask you if you can show in stages how to collect tomato seeds please?

  7. stephen clark
    | Reply

    hi Nick,
    ive grown many varieties this year including stupice & latah, most of my tall varieties did not do too well, but i must say RED ALERT came up trumps massive supply of tasty toms.
    Red Alert gives such fantastic results but the seeds where i live are scarce, but am going to save my own seeds of my own toms.
    its been a great sow-a-long with everyone and your guidance all the way has proved priceless so thank you very much for all your help Nick

    Kind Regards
    Steve – north shields

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Steve,
      It’s good to hear from you and I’m pleased the guidance has been helpful!
      Red Alert performed well for me too. I sowed two seeds in February and was picking toms in the middle of June. The two plants still have plenty of good size fruit to mature, so I’ll be saving seeds from these to grow next season!

  8. Vicki
    | Reply

    My first year growing tomatoes have loads of fruit but have only had one red one! WIll they ripen before it starts to get too cold?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Vicki,
      They should start to ripen soon.
      If you put green ones that you’ve picked in a bowl with a ripe banana, they’ll rpen more quickly.
      Keep feeding the plants with tomato food and if we get a spell of warm weather, it should do the trick.
      Best wishes,

      • Andy
        | Reply

        Hi Vicki and Nick
        Last year we had plenty of red toms before our holidays which we go on at this time every year. This year we’ve had none, but hopefully when we return next week I’m hoping for lots. Also thanks re the banana tip as i’ve heard this b4 but thought it was an old wife tale. When we get back if they’re not red I’ll start peeling the bananas.

  9. Helen Brunn
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    I have had fantastic results with My tumbling Toms here in Greece
    I had 12 plants that gave Me kilo after kilo of lovely little tomatoes
    ! or 2 died off after fruiting, but I now have a second growth on four of them that have started fruiting again.
    This was My 1st attempt at growing tomatoes and I will deffinatly be growing them again next year.
    Thank you fro all your tips and advice.
    I’m thinking of having a go at another variety next year too

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Helen,
      Sounds like you’ve found a variety that grows well in your part of the world.
      It would be interesting to know how Garden Pearl and Red Alert would perform in your warm climate. They are both similar to Tumbling Tom in growth habit.
      Best wishes,

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