Thursday, 8 August 2013

Tomatoes - early August progress report

The tomato crop is looking good so far.

Most of the plants have set a good quantity of fruit. I noticed that this happened in two distinct phases this year. Some of the plants set some good fruit on their first trusses, which often doesn't happen. Then there was a lull, during the very hot weather, when hardly any more fruit set. Then just recently - since we have had some rain - another flush of fruit has appeared, high up on the plants.

The most promising are the "Orkado" plants, which are absolutely laden with fruit:

This variety is quite new. I grew it last year from a pack of seeds marketed as an experimental variety. The "experiment" seems to have worked well, and I think this variety will be a regular feature of my plot. In the past I have depended on "Ferline" for my main crop. Ferline is another big type - comparable to Orkado - and it has the added benefit of being more blight-resistant than most other varieties (though even it is not immune). Ferline, however, doesn't produce as much fruit as Orkado does. Look at this photo, which shows Ferline and Orkado side-by-side, alternately. The nearest plant of the four is a Ferline, but the one beyond it is an Orkado, with twice as many fruit.

Notice how I have removed several of the lower leaves. This speeds up the ripening process by allowing more direct sunlight to reach the fruit, and it also reduces the likelihood of fungal diseases by improving air circulation.

I am eagerly awaiting the ripening of "Cherokee Purple", which is one I have never grown before. It has only a few fruit at present, but they are very big. Some more tiny fruits are appearing now, towards the top of the plants (I have two).

In my big raised bed I have three "Maskotka" plants. They are dreadfully unruly (tut, tut) but they produce a mass of delicious small red fruits:

The fruits are too large to be considered cherry-sized, but they are not big.

One of the best things about this variety is that it fruits over a long period. It is usually the first one to produce ripe fruit, and it is often the last to finish. This means that throughout the late Summer and early Autumn there are always bite-sized tomatoes ready for picking when the grandchildren come round. They are also a favourite of our daughter Fiona, who is coming across from France with her husband today to join us for a family holiday in Cornwall, so I forsee a tomato-picking foray taking place this evening!

The only tomato variety that is NOT doing well this year is "San Marzano". I suspect that it is because of where this is, but it has not yet set a single fruit. Lots of soft leafy growth, but hardly any flowers even.

That is actually two plants, in a single huge tub. As you can see, the location is not ideal. It's far too shady really. I'll not try growing tomatoes there again. What veg do you know that likes a shady location...?


  1. Nice tomatoes! Mine are coming in slow, because I just don't get the sunshine they want. I found San Marzano to be a bust when I tried them last year. They were my only tomatoes that had a bad case of blossom end rot and the ones that didn't were somewhat hollow and tasteless. Didn't bother with them this year.

  2. No ripe fruit for us yet and we have a few developing blossom end rot which we have never had in the past. Interestingly two other friends have had the same problem.

    That Orkado si seriously loaded - it looks great!

  3. Really impressed with the fruit set on the Orkado tomato. Seems to be a variety available only in the UK, lucky you. Your Cherokee Purple tomatoes are absolutely beautiful. I hope they continue unblemished and ripen for you. They are a great tasting tomato.

  4. My San Marzano are far from perfect too... as you say elsewhere "tut tut"!
    In my garden the brussels sprouts seem to be doing well in a shady spot and leafy veg do well in shade too, lettuces are less likely to bolt etc.

  5. Your tomatoes (and the herbs below in one of the photos) all look fab. Your going to have a good crop. Some things like rhubarb might no mind the shade but tomatoes definitely want the sun.


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