I have high hopes for this growing season!
I had high hopes last growing season too, but the weather dashed them to the ground. You might agree that 2011 was a pretty poor year for tomatoes.
Tomatoes are definitely the star of many a garden! Every Spring, we tomato-lovers get excited all over again about which tomatoes to grow. Imagine lovely baskets full of a plethora of gorgeous tomatoes in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colours! It is great fun sowing the varieties that have started to become favourites and choosing some new varieties to try for the first time.
For me, it isn't enough for them to just look beautiful (although I am initially easily persuaded to try growing a tomato because of its good looks) - a tomato variety has to have a good texture and taste great to make it onto my best-tomato list.
One tomato variety that has made it onto our list of favourite tomatoes is Sub Arctic Plenty, which has grown beautifully for us in pots for a number of years now. Lovely red tomatoes on a plant that grows to just a metre tall.
These are always our first tomatoes of the season and I'm looking forward to growing them again this year. We sowed these seeds on a heat pad back in August and now these seedlings are in the tunnel house, sheltering from any poor weather until late October when they will go out in the garden.
Another favourite is Brandywine Pink.
Brandywine tomatoes are a favourite with lots of people - they are often recommended as one of the best tasting tomatoes available - they are another tomato I wouldn't be without.
These are great slicing tomatoes - they grow nice and big!
Another tomato that is returning to our garden this year is a tomato that is new to Kings Seeds this year. Last year we grew a new tomato which had been developed (using traditional plant breeding techniques) by Jim Myers, Professor of Vegetable Breeding and Genetics at Oregon State University. You can read their press release here. Tomato Indigo Rose is the first tomato bred to contain high levels of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the same class of compounds that produce the healthy pigments in red wine that work as antioxidants - blueberries also contain high concentrations of anthocyanin.
Even if you put the possible health benefits aside, Indigo Rose is just a very beautiful, striking tomato to grow.....any parts of the tomato fruit that are exposed to direct sun develop a dark purple pigment (almost black really), making these tomatoes very striking in appearance! Indigo Rose tomatoes ripen from green (shaded with purple/black) to red (shaded with purple/black). They make a stunning additional to a salad - the insides of the tomatoes are red. Very cool - can't wait to grow them again. I think they taste good too.
This year we are trying a few new tomatoes. I'm definitely looking forward to growing Tomato Zapotec. It is heavily ribbed and pleated large tomato.
Its looks alone make it worth a try! It's also a good tomato for colder areas as it was orginally brought to Europe from the high altitude region of Oaxacan in southern Mexico.
Last year, our tomatoes were a sad collection. I could blame it completely on the poor summer we had, but I have to admit to being partly responsible. Our neighbour invited me over to admire her tomatoes last year, and I was most impressed. She had a massive harvest of Tomato Diplom....every plant had been beautifully staked, all the laterals and lower greenery had been removed, and every plant was absolutely LADEN with perfect tomatoes - it was a beautiful thing to behold (choking back a little gardener's envy), so this year I am making some promises to my tomato seedlings:
To my Tomato Seedlings:
I promise that I will pot my seedlings up properly when they need it and I won't put them outside in the garden until I'm sure there won't be any more frosts.
I promise that this year my tomato plants will be planted into soil that has been well fed and enriched with plenty of manure and compost so that my plants will have lots of nutrients available as they grow.
I promise that this year I will do a really good job of staking my tomato plants (this job has already been delegated out to the better half, who is also better at staking plants).
I promise that I will actually tie the tomato plants properly to the stake so that there is actual physical support and not just imaginary support from an unattached stake!
I promise that this year I will feed my tomato plants. I have always meant to do this and never have. This year I will make some comfrey tea and use it. I really mean it this time.
I promise that this year I will remove all laterals promptly. I might even pot them up to produce additional tomato plants ....
I promise I will do my best to keep my plants free from blight (wish me luck and a good tomato season!) by removing the lower leaves to let air flow through the plants. And I will water them only at the base and I won't get the foliage wet.
I promise I will keep watering my tomatoes with great attention to detail and not abandon them to their own devices partway through the growing season. (Irregular watering can cause blossom end rot and stunt growth, and plants that are waterstressed will more easily succumb to pest attacks.) I also promise to keep my tomato plants mulched.
I promise to send some buckets of tomatoes round to the neighbour when we have a tomato glut!
So there are all my good intentions for my lovely tomatoes.....If I manage to keep my promises, I'll let you know....