Project for 2018 – The Great Tomato Challenge

Project for 2018: The Great Tomato Challenge. Tomato, Tomatoes, Grow Your Own, edible, allotment, allotment blog, allotment life, allotments, home grown, tomato growing, grow your own veg, grow your own vegetables, GYO, harvest, Craig LeHoullier, epic tomatoes,

My hunt for some reliable outdoor tomatoes begins – The Great Tomato Challenge 2018

So why The Great Tomato Challenge? I’ve had a few goes at getting some tomatoes from the plants in my little greenhouse but they’ve been much the embarrassment. The plants seem healthy but fruit-set can be poor, the fruit takes ages to ripen and mostly they’ll succumb to either blight or rot before a harvest can be had.

I’ve decided that 2018 is the year of the tomato. Now I have an allotment, with its availability of good light levels and space, I can indulge myself. I’ve tried growing challenges before (see the disaster that was my Chilli Challenge in 2014) so expectations need to be reasonable.

The goal is to find some varieties that can perform outside in the mild climate of Devon. I’m looking for a cherry tomato, a good salad tomato, and a good tomato for sauces. I’ll be judging them based on plant vigour/health, crop weight, and flavour.

The inspiration

I’ve been listening to the Still Growing Podcast this year and Jennifer (over at 6 Foot Mama) interviewed Craig Le Houllier who has grown hundreds of tomatoes as part of his obsession with heirloom varieties.

His book gave me huge amounts of information and a wish-list that neared on three figures for a while. After my initial excitement was tempered by the reality of the space available, and the desire to grow something other than tomatoes on the allotment, I managed to be more discerning and narrow the list down. Once I found a seed supplier in the UK that stocked a large amount of the list I was sorted.

I looked at Real Seeds as usual but the varieties weren’t part of their (excellent) collection.  Plant World Seeds are based just 10 minutes away from me and listed a large number of the varieties on my list.

The Varieties

  • Brandywine Red
  • Brandywine Yellow
  • Giant Syrian
  • Mortgage Lifter
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Kellog’s Breakfast
  • Black Krim
  • Orange Banana
  • Coyote
  • Mexico Midget
  • San Marzano
  • Black Cherry

I’ll probably sow these in February to give them the longest growing season possible. I best get some pots cleaned ready for the challenge.

Harvest Roundup 2017 – my courgette and climbing bean totals

Quantifying the haul from my yellow courgette and climbing bean harvest for 2017. It’s my first harvest roundup!

You may have seen on my Instagram and Twitter feeds and previous posts that I have been keeping a tally of the amount of harvest collected from some of the crops on my allotment this year. I’ve been nerdily weighing everything that makes it home. This year, for my harvest roundup,  I concentrated on the yellow courgette and my two varieties of climbing bean; Cosse Violette and Trail of Tears.

This was for three main reasons;

  1. I’m a big geek
  2. To see if there was any difference in yields between varieties
  3. To see if I could justify the costs of keeping the allotment

Previously on the allotment

Garden Update 22nd July: Courgettes, cuttings and a Leaf-cutter Bee

No Dig Newbie

Allotment layout ideas

Harvest roundup: Yellow courgette

These plants were sourced from one of my favourite local nurseries, Hill House Nursery in Landscove, Devon. I got my allotment in April/May this year and so it felt like a late start to the season so I cheated with some purchased plants. I’ve lost/forgotten the name so I’ve been calling them ‘yellow courgette’ all year. I also bought a green variety but it’s been pants so hasn’t been worth tallying.

Harvest roundup - my courgette and climbing bean totals for 2017. Harvest, allotment, courgette, yellow courgette, yearly harvest, grow your own, edible, edibles, allotmentblog, allotment blog, home grown, summer squash, climbing bean, bean, beans, cosse violette, climbing bean cosse violette, trail of tears, climbing bean trail of tears, gardening, garden blog, gdnblog, devon, green gym, harvesting,
Yellow courgette

My total harvest haul comes to 1194g!

That’s near on 1.2kg from 2 plants. Not bad considering it was a dry start to the year.

I quick look at our nearest supermarket has standard green courgettes at £1.90/kg with the organic version (which I could claim) at £6.67/kg. So being generous I have saved £8. Since you can’t buy the superior yellow courgettes in supermarkets they are priceless.

Harvest roundup - my courgette and climbing bean totals for 2017. Harvest, allotment, courgette, yellow courgette, yearly harvest, grow your own, edible, edibles, allotmentblog, allotment blog, home grown, summer squash, climbing bean, bean, beans, cosse violette, climbing bean cosse violette, trail of tears, climbing bean trail of tears, gardening, garden blog, gdnblog, devon, green gym, harvesting,
One of only 2 yellow courgette plants

Harvest roundup: Climbing beans

I chose two varieties to grow from seed this year. Cosse Violette I’ve grown before and I know they’re straightforward but beautiful on the allotment. I also went to Trail of Tears after hearing about it for years and I was interested to see what all the fuss was about.

Cosse Violette harvest: 2296g

Trail of Tears harvest: 2763g

The standard green beans in the supermarket are £4.50/kg with the organic option £6.67 (are they choosing the same price for all organic veg?). So at around 5kg of produce, I’ve saved  £33.75.

 

What’s been a success on your allotment/ plot this year?