Saturday 20 August 2011

My Favourite Tomato

Ever since I've been growing tomatoes, I've tried a new variety every year. I was so pleased with the tomatoes I grew last year that I decided to grow exactly the same varieties again this year, so this is the first year that I don't have a new variety to try out. A friend on one of the forums I read sent me some Tangella seeds last year and I tried them for the first time. I loved them, but because they're a heirloom variety, it's not easy to find anywhere which sells the seeds so I had a go at saving seed for the first time myself. I'm pleased to report that I had 100% germination with them, so I've got fruit again this year, and they're just as delicious as I remember. They've got a very fruity taste and are extremely juicy. They give a very good yield, in fact I can't think of anything bad to say about them. I'll be saving seed again this year for sure, they're my favourite tomato. 

Unfortunately, the other two varieties I've grown again this year aren't doing so well. San Marzano is a plum variety and I enjoyed them cooked last year. This year they've developed a bad case of blossom end rot. This is where the bottom of the tomato develops a black patch, probably due to erratic watering or lack of calcium, but as I was away for a fortnight and relied on my dad popping round every couple of days, I'm going with the watering. Hopefully, now that they're getting a consistent amount of water, they'll recover. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The third variety I'm growing is Gardener's Delight. I've grown these for many years and they've never let me down, until this year. I knew I was in for trouble when the plants grew very leggy at the start of the season. They were grown exactly the same way as the other two varieties, started off indoors then moved in to the greenhouse which wasn't heated. They had plenty of light and very little heat so I don't know what caused them to grow this way. This is a cherry variety of tomato, but a cherry would look huge in comparison to most of the tomatoes being produced on my plants. There's plenty of tomatoes on the trusses, they just don't seem to be growing.

I'm considering having a go at growing some tomatoes outdoors next year. I did grow tomatoes in containers outdoors before I had my greenhouse, so I don't know whether to go down this route again, or have a go at growing some at the allotment. I'll still grow some in the greenhouse as I do now, but as my greenhouse is only 4X6 I don't grow many plants. There's only me who eats tomatoes in our house, but I'd like a few more than I'm getting at the moment, and would ideally like enough to have a go at making some sauces and soups.

I've been meaning to mention in my last couple of posts that Bilbo Waggins from The View From Bag End has very kindly offered to send some of Ollie's Sunflower seeds to any of my readers who would like to grow some. If you look back a few posts, you will see my post about Ollie's Sunflowers. Ollie was Bilbo's Bearded Collie and he sadly passed away in August 2009. You can read about the connection with the sunflowers in my post of 25th July 2011. If you would like some seeds to grow this sunflower, you can contact Bilbo through an email link on her profile.


  1. We like Gardener's Delight too - a lovely tasting tomato. They've maybe not fruited quite as much as normally but nights have been very cool, also our vine cuts down on light in the garden greenhouse.

    The tumbling tomatoes seem to be much slower to fruit this year too.

    We can't grow tomatoes outdoors on the plot due to blight. We used to get a great crop when there were only a few plots taken but now blight devastates them although this year we'd have maybe got away with it!

  2. Our tomatoes are coming thick and fast now. We save our own seed and are growing Ildi which are lovely, prolific, small, yellow tomatoes, Shirley and two other varieties we don't know the proper names for. The tomatoes were shop bought by a friend and we saved the seed. They have turned out very tasty indeed. We also have an outdoor variety (again of unknown name) which we call John's super tasty. We will save seed again this year.
    We all love tomatoes in this family so they are all eaten.
    Love from Mum

  3. So glad you had a good holiday Jo. You just cannot go wrong with Devon and Cornwall, despite the changeable weather.

    Do you remember the Tangella seeds you kindly sent me. Well sadly they don't seem to have done as well for me. As you know I grow my tomatoes outdoors and I'm still waiting for them to ripen. I just hope we get a lot more sun towards the end of this month and September. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the Tangella come good - yours look really tasty. Even my ever faithfull Gardener's Delight are only just beginning to ripen.


  4. Whatever else I grow, one tomato variety is a constant - Gardeners Delight.

    There's something to be said for reliability.

  5. I've not tried Tangella, but I have had Tigerella (V.good) and Sungella (above average), so the "-gellas" are obviously pretty good all round. Have you tried Green Zebra? They are allegedly the best-tasting tomato of all. We shall see...

  6. I am havinf some very small cherry tomatoes too this year....but not all of them...just a few.

    I grow tomatoes in my greenhouse, in tubs at home and also outside on the plot. All of them do well and this way i find I have enough to make some jars of sauce up too.

    The ones planted on the allotment have only just started to ripen...about 4 weeks after those in my greenhouse.

  7. Thanks Jo. I know I'm a silly so-and-so, but it's very heartwarming to have The Boy remembered all over the place :].

    We're also having major tomato problems this year. I think it is the lack of night-time warmth coupled with the huge variation in temperature between night & day. Most years I expect the greenhouse to be open constantly from July onwards. Right now I am closing it up around 5.00 or 6.00pnm to try and keep some heat in. We have loads of fruit set but it is just not ripening (all heirloom varieties from HSL), bit of blossom end rot on some, but mostly just green, green, green (and sadly, neither of us like chutney!)

  8. We have our tommies in the polytunnel this year and we're inundated with them. They were slow to get to the ripening stage but they're coming thick and fast now. I gave up Gardener's Delight for Alicante this year and they've been good.
    Love the idea to honour Ollie and would be proud to grow some in our garden.

  9. Sounds as if you have found the perfect tom for you Jo. Shame that the other two varieties are not behaving. I have grown 'Gardeners Delight' this year but no ripe fruits as yet. Just as well as the others are coming in thick and fast so I will be able to stagger consumption.

  10. Lovely tomatoes Jo, I'm definitely going to try a new variety for next year. Just need to decide which one!

  11. Hi Jo,
    Those Tangella tomatoes look wonderful and make me want to be a little more adventurous with my tomatoes! I have only grown Shirley and Ailsa Craig. Oddly this year has been a good tomato year for us despite it being a fairly soggy summer which usually puts paid to a good crop.
    Looks like your hubby has found the secret to growing good carrots, they look very promising in the bath in your last post!

  12. I'm growing a handful of Gardener's Delight on the plot but all I've picked so far are a few marble sized ones although there are bigger ones that are still green! Flighty xx

  13. It worries me about blight on the allotment, Sue. I might grow them outside in the garden, I never had any problem when I grew them this way before. I haven't grown any tumbling tomatoes this year, perhaps I'll grow them again next year too.

    It sounds like you're growing some lovely tomatoes, Mum. It makes sense saving seed from varieties you enjoy.

    I hope the Tangellas ripen for you, Jeanne. There's time left yet so I'll keep my fingers crossed. It would be a shame not get a single one to try.

    I've grown Gardener's Delight for a few years now, Blue Shed Thinking. I think most gardeners enjoy this variety, and it is usually reliable.

    Tigerella is another which I really enjoy, Mark. I've never grown Green Zebra, I wouldn't know when it was ripe, and it somehow seems wrong to be eating a green tomato. I know lots of people really enjoy it though.

    A greenhouse makes a lot of difference when it comes to ripening tomatoes, Tanya. I hope I manage to be successful with outside tomatoes next year.

    You're welcome, Bilbo, and you're not silly at all, this is how our loved ones, humans and animals, live on. I think night time temperatures do have something to do with the tomatoes not ripening. It's amazing how chilly it's been on an evening, and like you, I usually leave my greenhouse open overnight, but I haven't this year.

    This is certainly where your polytunnel will come in to it's own, Mo. I'm sure you'll use up every last one of the glut of tomatoes. It is a lovely idea to honour Ollie, I've enjoyed growing the sunflowers in my garden.

    It is my perfect tomato, Anna. I'll be saving seeds again this year. It's good to grow different varieties so that the harvest is extended.

    I enjoy trying new varieties, Damo, but Tangella is one I'll definitely stick with. I'm wondering which variety to grow outdoors next year.

    My dad swears by Ailsa Craig, Bluebell. He's got some growing in his greenhouse at the moment, but my parents are due to move in a few weeks and they won't have a garden, so it will be the last time he grows them. I'll do a follow up post on the carrots in the bath, but I agree, they do look promising.

    We just need a bit more sun, Flighty, and those tomatoes will ripen. I'm sure they'll be worth the wait.

  14. Hi Jo, I'm just catching up in between short breaks away and have enjoyed reading about your tomato varieties. It's always interesting to try new varieties and I like the sound of Tangella, although I'm also looking at compact bush tomatoes for next year for my balcony. Still waiting for mine to ripen and the weather here is awful!

  15. There's still time for the tomatoes to ripen yet, Caro. It seems that lots of people are having the same experiences, though my Tangellas are doing great. I haven't grown any bush tomatoes this year, but I'm going to grow some next year, they always seem to give a good crop no matter what the variety.


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