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.
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.
- Brandywine Red
- Brandywine Yellow
- Giant Syrian
- Mortgage Lifter
- Abraham Lincoln
- Kellog’s Breakfast
- Black Krim
- Orange Banana
- 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.