Review of the Year: Tomatoes
I ate my last home-grown tomato for breakfast this morning, so I thought I'd have a look back today on how this year's crop fared. It's been my best tomato season ever, partly helped by the weather and then boosted much further with the gifted 'Crimson Crush' seeds via Dalefoot Compost, who invited me to trial their new tomato compost this year.
A few years ago I almost gave up growing tomatoes, because I can only grow them outdoors where they're at their most susceptible to blight. However, recent success from Simon Crawford's tomato breeding programme has resulted in not only strong blight resistance in his tomatoes, they're full of flavour* too. 'Crimson Crush' is one of his and were supplied for this trial by Pennard Plants, yay.
It was just as well I had a bag of each compost as all my 'Crimson Crush' seeds germinated. I had to commandeer all kinds of pots to accommodate them all as I couldn't bear to throw any of them away. Here you can see my set up - the back pots are my actual trial as these 4 pots have exactly the same conditions and with unlimited access to water as those pots are self watering. Reading from left to right we have vegetable compost; tomato compost; vegetable compost; tomato compost. Out of shot are a further 8 large pots of various sizes to maximise my crop. We eat a lot of tomatoes, so I didn't mind them jostling for position on my sunny patio.
So how did I do? This is my biggest tomato ever. It won't challenge the giant veg guys, but I'm very proud of this one... ...which came from a tomato compost grown plant. Overall, I had 20% more tomatoes grown in the tomato compost compared to the vegetable one, and they weighed just under 30% extra i.e. I harvested more and bigger tomatoes from the new compost 😊
However, it wasn't a totally successful season as I had my first ever experience of blossom end rot. The usual wisdom is this is due due to lack of calcium and/or moisture, but seeing it also happened in the plants grown with constant access to water irrespective of compost type I don't think it's the case with my tomatoes. This source also mentions planting out in cold soils can be a factor. It looks like the cold start my plants had in June might be the culprit. Certainly as the season went on, the incidence of blossom end rot lessened, then finally ceased altogether.
On a lighter note, I also had my first incidence of 'nosy tomatoes'.
Happily, most of my tomatoes looked like this one, even when blight affected the plants later in the season. I only had 2 blight affected tomatoes in the entire crop. It seems the fruit can remain healthy when blight is about, and the plant itself keeps the blight at bay for a long time.
Once the blight did take a fatal hold several weeks later in October, I made a final harvest and set my tomatoes out on the windowsill to ripen as shown above. I find with this set up the tomatoes ripen slowly over several weeks. That's why I've been able to eat home-grown until today.
And the flavour? They were yummy from the first, right until the last.
How did your tomatoes fare this year?
* = my early trials with new blight resistant varieties such as Ferline weren't good as the results tasted insipid.