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Grow top performing, tasty tomatoes with Beth Otway

As you will know from last month, I just adore growing fruit and vegetables. Any form of edible gardening is a soul-enriching experience, which I would encourage you to try.

Last year, I ran a tomato trial, to discover delicious, productive, and reliable tomato varieties. My tomato seeds were sown inside my glasshouse in the middle of March. So if you’d like to grow tomatoes, you have plenty of time to prepare. If you don’t have a glasshouse, you could grow your tomato plants on your window sill. My plants were planted outside in June, when all risk of frost had passed.

All of my tomato plants that were grown for this trial were grown in Dalefoot composts – the top performing composts in my compost trials over the past five consecutive years. Dalefoot Composts are made with natural materials, including bracken and sheep’s wool, to create a nutrient rich, water retentive compost, which holds on to water longer than any of the other composts I have trialled.

My outside tap and both of my watering systems broke, one after the other last year! During this time, I was away from home for a week. The fact that all of my tomato plants, which were growing

Tomato ‘Prange Wellington’

in small containers inside my glasshouse, survived a week of scorching hot weather without any watering is testament to how water retentive Dalefoot Composts are.

I didn’t use any fertiliser or feed during my tomato trial as my tomato plants received sufficient nutrients from the Dalefoot Composts they were grown in. I trialled growing my tomato plants in Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters, in plastic containers, and in the ground. The Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters produced more productive plants in 12 out of the 15 tomato varieties trialled.

I supported my tomato plants with lengths of twine tied to an overhead support system as I find this to be a simple but effective method. Sadly, the twine I used was prone to snapping unexpectedly, leaving my plants requiring urgent attention, so I’d recommend that you use a good-quality twine if you plan to support your tomato plants in a similar manner.

I trialled a range of tomato types: cherry, cocktail, salad, and beefsteak. Of these, my favourite tasting tomato varieties were: ‘Honeycomb’, a delicious, small cherry tomato with an intensely sweet, fruity flavour and a great balance of acidity; ‘Cherry Baby’ produces small, tangy tomatoes; ‘Consuelo’ is a cherry tomato with a slightly sharper flavour; ‘Shimmer’ is a small plum tomato, it’s just slightly larger than a cherry tomato, with silky smooth flesh and a sweet, mellow flavour, without any acidity. Finally, ‘Orange Wellington’ is a beefsteak tomato, which produces large, juicy fruits with a soft, melting texture and a delicate, rounded flavour.

 

Visit my website http://www.pumpkinbeth.com to see my tomato trial report in full, and where you’ll also find gardening advice for the month ahead, a calendar of plant fairs, information on snowdrop garden openings and much more besides!

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