Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tomato Trials

As global warming results in warmer, drier summers and milder, wetter winters, we may be looking at the end of glass house grown tomatoes. Hurray for field grown toms, more flavoursome and a lot less bother, and less prone to insect infestation. Of course rabbits eat tomatoes if allowed to develop the taste for them...
This summer I grew 7 named varieties, and unnamed others. The 7 named were all started off from seed into fairly bog standard potting compost under glass 12 April; pricked out and potted on into six-division plastic trays. I then dropped into a busy hole, and pretty much left them to it, although I hardened them off by leaving the glass house doors open most of May. Then over the week between bank holiday Monday 29 May, to the following Sunday 4 June, I planted the majority of each into the garden; two inches deeper than in their pots, 2' apart over four rows 15 plants to a row, spaced 2' apart. I like tomatoes... No liquid feed used, as I relied on the fertility of the soil. I like to run Jack Russells lean, and grow my food crops hard. All cropped well, although the Romas (plum) and Costoluto Fiorentinos (beefsteak), faired better under glass. Here's the laundry list;

Black Prince - very strange appearance, like a darkly rotting tomato, but very delicious
Aurora - large yellow fruits perfectly ripe, my personal favourite
Golden Sunrise - lovely bitesize yellow fruits
Moneymaker - standard "supermarket" tomato regular shape and flavour
Ailsa Craig - I cant remember much about this one, perhaps therein lies the clue
Roma - Italian variety, lovely little plum and huge cropper
Costoluto Fiorentino - huge misshapen beefsteak with great flavour and eye appeal

Some time in April, I bought a box of heritage Italian tomatoes from Sainsbury's, and thought I'd experiment with growing some on from the seeds. To do this, simply cut a tomato in half, squeeze out the seeds onto potting compost and off you go! Of these unusual tomatoes, the green tiger-striped did best, bitesize and full with flavour. Others included yellow plums and a very peculiar looking red cherry shaped like a pinched log (merci beaucoup enfant deux). At last, Jamie Oliver's tomato salad using nothing but varied tomatoes and a good dressing becomes a reality!