20 Sep 2020

A Tale of Too Many Tomatoes

One constant of my food growing year are the tomato seeds I sow in March. We gardeners like to wax lyrical about the superior taste of home-grown but - let me be honest, here - farmers' markets, supermarkets and local shops are catching up fast, and the road to successful home grown is fraught with pitfalls and disappointments. I'm just telling it like it is. 

Having said that, this year has been fantastic, thanks mainly to three varieties: all prolific, one colourful, one very unusual and one perfect for container growing. 

Ripe red bush cherry tomatoes growing in a raised bed
Cherry Falls - indeed they do!

My star plant this year has to be Cherry Falls. It's a bush type tomato from Mr Fothergills 'David Domoney Get Growing' range. I've grown this for the past three years on my balcony with good enough results.  There were two seeds left in the pack, I wasn't sure they would still be viable but, with nothing to lose, I sowed them. It was a good decision; this plant exceeded all my expectations.

I gave one plant away and popped the other into a sunny corner of my Veg Trug ... and then, apart from watering, ignored it until green fruits started to blush red in mid-July.  

Within a couple of weeks, handfuls of sweet juicy fruit were there for the taking on almost a daily basis. This despite some very un-summerlike weather. By August's end, with the tsunami of tomatoes still coming, I started to weigh the harvests. From that point on I picked over a 1½ kilos so, in all, this one plant produced around two kilos of delicious ripe tomatoes.  Or to put it another way, over 4 lbs of tomatoes. I don't know about you but I was certainly impressed and will be growing this variety again next year. A bush tomato that can be grown in a large pot or raised bed? What's not to love!

It's now the end of the season with just a few more green tomatoes left. They may or may not ripen but I'll leave them on the plant.  Meanwhile, I've made 6 jars of Tomato and Apple Chutney - a neat way of reducing the numbers of tomatoes and apples accumulating in my kitchen.  There's been a fair amount of windfall apples recently and the freezer has already been replenished with apple chunks ready for winter pies. Chutney seemed the logical solution. 

But what of the other two tomatoes?  (Actually, I grew 8 varieties but the three mentioned here came out tops this year.)

Reissen, given to me as a plant, and Yellow Pear grown from seed - both indeterminate types - the ones that need more tending and faffing over. (see below) A greenhouse is also a good idea but I had a hot sunny corner outside so thought that would do. And it did.

So, Reissen you say? Yep. I'd never heard of it either but was given a small plant in March and grew it for its novelty value.  Each segment is a separate tomato that can be torn from the rest of the fruit without damaging the whole. Very nifty. And of course I forgot to take out the sideshoots in time (one of my better mistakes) so successfully replanted the larger shoots to get a few more plants. I love how tomatoes can root themselves so easily.

Reisse apparently translates as 'travel' so this is the traveller's tomato. I'm not a connoisseur of taste, but can tell you that I've very happily eaten these both freshly picked and fried over toast, both utterly delicious.  So, yes, I will try to save some seed from these for next year. 

Ripe bulbous tomato on the vine

And, lastly, Yellow Pear which gets a mention here because although it was slow to start fruiting, the fruits just kept on coming, individual clusters ripening at nicely timed intervals. There was still rather a lot of them though. And the colour, ripening from a pale yellow to a deep gold brightened up the borders. 

The last few Yellow Pears

So there it is, my top tomatoes for this year.  Cherry Falls has definitely earned a place on next year's list, as has Reissen, but the lesson learned is that I need to be growing more bush tomatoes as they're so much easier than the vine types!


The Faff Factor: Indeterminate type tomatoes need to be grown as a single stem up a supportive cane or string; sideshoots need to be removed before they take over; the leader stem needs to be stopped when a certain number of fruit trusses have formed - all this in addition to feeding and watering. Determinate or bush types only need feeding and watering. 

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