Cordon or Indeterminate Tomato Varieties
These tend to be the most grown types, usually tied to a cane or string
and the side shoots are removed to ensure the plants energy goes into
the fruit rather than foliage. When a number of trusses (The plant stalk
that bears the flowers and fruit) are set, the plant is stopped to allow
the fruit a chance to ripen before the end of the season.
Bush or Determinate Tomato Varieties
Bush tomatoes differ in that they do not need side shoots removing and
are effectively self stopping. The drawback of this is that they take
up more room and are not so suitable for growing in pots. They do not
generally require much or any support but the fruits are often in contact
with the ground, which means more vulnerable to slugs and other pests.
They can, in poor years, leave you with more green and under-developed
fruits but you can compensate for this if you can get them off to an early
Dwarf Bush or Hanging Basket Tomatoes
Unlike the standard determinate varieties of tomato, these are smaller
plants usually giving cherry tomatoes and are bred to grow in containers
such as hanging baskets. My experience is that they can be very successful.
Heirloom Tomatoes (Heritage Tomatoes)
The term heirloom or heritage just means an old variety Whilst breeders
are always looking to improve existing cultivars and develop new ones,
the rush of progress sometimes leaves a real gem behind.
Recently some of these old varieties have been re-discovered and are again
becoming popular with home growers who have different priorities to the
commercial tomato grower. You may wonder why people bother - surely the
modern varieties are best? Certainly they are more disease resistant and
stronger growing than the heirloom varieties but there is one over riding
reason - flavour.
The flavour of heirloom tomato varieties is different to modern tomatoes.
Some are much stronger flavoured, some more tart and some milder. They
are different. Give them a try and see what you think. If you don't like
one type, then try another next year. You may well discover what is, for
you, the ideal tomato. A flavour without compare.
Like the modern tomatoes, the red heritage varieties contain lycopene,
an antioxidant, cancer protecting compound. Incidentally, lycopene is
more readily available to us and easily absorbed from cooked tomatoes
rather than raw.
Growing Heirloom Tomatoes
Growing heirloom tomatoes is just like growing ordinary tomatoes except
that they may not be quite so tolerant of poor cultivation.
Best Heirloom Tomatoes
It's impossible to say what are the best heirloom tomatoes, it all depends
on your personal taste and what appeals to you and your family. Try them
How to sow
Scatter seeds thinly across the surface of 7.5cm (3in) pots filled
seed raising mix
Label and put on a windowsill.
Move seedlings into separate 7.5cm (3in) pots in about eight weeks.
When roots come through the drainage holes put into a 12.5cm (5in)
When the first flowers have appeared, plant out and secure to a
Regularly tie the tomato plant to the cane for support.
Keep the compost moist, feed weekly with tomato fertiliser and
remove side shoots.(
except with Bush tomatoes there is no need to remove the laterals)
Water Requirements for Tomatoes
Tomato Problems due to Irregular Watering
More people have problems due to irregular watering with tomatoes than
any other cultivation issue. Allowing tomatoes to dry out and then deluging
them with water causes the fruit to suddenly swell, cracking the skin
of the tomato and this allows fungal growth to get a hold, completely
ruining the fruit.
Worse still it alters the internal calcium balance of the plant and this
causes blossom end rot where the base or blossom end of the tomato develops
a brown patch. Poor watering practice also contributes to blossom drop,
this is where the flowers fall off and no fruit develops at all.
Keeping the compost too wet can be as bad, it can cause the roots to rot
and help rot to develop at the base of stem.
What Affects The Water Requirement of Tomatoes
The experienced grower develops a feel for how much water he should give
to the tomatoes. It will vary according to how developed and large the
plant is, the more leaf area the more a plant will transpire, a fancy
word for sweat, and lose water to the air.
The transpiration rate of tomatoes is obviously affected by the weather.
Just as we sweat on a hot, sunny day but not on a cold, cloudy day , tomatoes
transpiration rate will vary
Tomato Troubles & Diseases
Youll find a host of potential problems with tomatoes listed in
the gardening books but in the real garden it does not seem to be so complicated.
This is really potato blight, dont forget tomatoes are the same
family as potatoes, so you can get blight.
My experience with blight is that there is little you can do if they get
it and just to accept defeat. You can prevent blight by practising good
hygiene when it is about and using clean mains water rather than water
from an outside butt.
There are fungicidal sprays you can use that will help if used at the
very first sign of blight.
Tomatoes that are ripe on the plant can be used but the rest will probably
rot without treatment
Tomatoes can get virus infections and these too can be fatal. Symptoms
are usually yellowing or mottling of the leaves and reduced yield.
In this case, I cut off badly affected leaves and hope the gods will give
me some fruit. Sometimes it doesnt make too much difference and
you can basically ignore the infection.
Smokers should be aware that tomatoes can catch a mosaic virus carried
in tobacco and so you should never smoke and handle the plants. Washing
your hands after a cigarette before handling tomato plants is a good idea
Magnesium Deficiency in Tomatoes
This is a problem where the plant looks like it has a virus but it is
caused by lack of magnesium. It is easily treated by spraying with Epsom
Salts. Dissolve ½ oz in a pint of water (20g/litre) and spray each
day for a week.
Even if I am fairly sure the plant has a virus, I give an Epsom salt spray
it can not do any harm, is perfectly safe and cheap. If it is deficiency
the plant will benefit and even if a virus, it may help if deficiency
Tomato Blossom End Rot
This is where a brown patch is seen on the base of the fruit. It is caused
by the plant drying out so the cure is to ensure your plants never dry
out. At the same time, do not allow them to get too waterlogged or you
will drown them. Regular watering is critical to success with tomatoes.
Tomatoes can suffer from aphids, green fly, white fly and slugs. I plant
Marigold around my Tomatoes, not only does it look good it deters the
white fly and other insects from your plant. I put Bran flakes around
my tomato base to deter the slugs
Like most plants, it is not a good idea to grow the same thing in the
same spot year after year.
If you grow in a greenhouse with soil borders, grow the tomatoes in the
soil by all means but dig this out and replace with fresh soil each year.
With outdoor tomatoes rotate them. They are the same family as potatoes
but do not grow next to potatoes because they are susceptible to potato
blight. If they are far away from the potatoes they may well escape it.
You can also try shielding them with clear plastic walls or even build
a large cloche as the season ends.
Tomato Leaf Curl
You will often see curled up leaves on tomatoes this is not a problem!
It just happens and doesnt seem to harm the plants, fruits or flavour.
1 Can of Beer (regular 10 oz) (300ml)
1 Cup of Epsom Salts
1/2 Cup of Ammonia ( household ammonia non frothy)
2 Cups of Water
Mix all four ingredients and put in a container.
Add 30 mls of this mixture per 4 litres of water
when watering your Tomatoes. Use one time every 2 week . water around
the drip line
This is an amazing fertilizer I have massive tomatoes this year