by Janis on 2nd September 2022 / 0 comments

We have so many of the little red jewels

Well, in terms of producing fruit, our homegrown tomatoes have been an incredible success; we’re struggling to keep up with the quantity that they’re yielding. However, in regard to staking them out and supporting them, I could have done a better job; more on that later.

As I mentioned in my update on our chillies post, our tomato seeds were sown two or three weeks later than I had hoped. I was conducting a little test to see if I could double-bluff my outdated seeds.

As you can guess, they came to nothing, so we made a trip to our local garden centre to see which seed varieties they had available.

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Our choice of tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are always a winner

Now I’m going to be honest here, and I know this is slightly bizarre, but I don’t actually like fresh tomatoes. I love them cooked, but fresh, that’s another thing. Luckily tomatoes are so versatile, and you can do so many things with them.

During our visit to the garden centre, we purchased three types of tomato: Gardener’s Delight, Sweet Million F1 and San Marzano 2.

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Tomato Seeds

So, in early April, my new tomato seeds were sown, and we waited patiently for them to start showing signs of life and peeking through the compost.

To ensure that we would have at least one of each tomato plant, I propagated three of each variety. Amazingly I had a nearly 100% success rate, the three Gardener’s Delight and Sweet Million F1 germinated and two of the San Marzano 2.

It truly astounds me that the sheer abundance of crops you can obtain from one plant is magnificent from one tiny tomato seed.

Staking our tomatoes

A bit of a mistake

The potting on of our tomato seedlings went very well, and the little plants thrived; in fact, they have been flourishing ever since. I have had a problem with these rampant plants because I underestimated how tall they would grow and how heavy the tumbling vines would become.

I started with small stakes and then gradually progressed to the larger ones; however, these are not really strong enough either. We had to create a makeshift workaround and tie them to a nearby support to keep them upright.

Tomato plants in their individual terracotta pots on the edge of the courtyard patio next to our herb garden
Our tomatoes

Well, as I see it, I’ve made a few mistakes here. The first is that seven tomato plants are rather a lot, and they take up a lot of room (I underestimated the varieties I had chosen). Secondly, I should have placed the tomato pots next to the fence, so I had stronger supports to tie them to. And thirdly, I think I may have let them grow too high.

This leads me to a question: do you allow your tomato plants to grow tall, or do you remove the stems once the plant has produced four or five? I’m not too sure what is best.

I have certainly learnt some lessons for next year

Gardener’s Delight tomatoes

They just keep on giving

Our Gardener’s Delight seeds were from Thompson & Morgan, and they all germinated perfectly.

This incredible tomato plant produces cherry size fruits and masses of them from long trusses. It isn’t surprising that this sweet-yielding plant won the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

A bunch of ripening tomatoes growing on the vine on the edge of the courtyard patio.
Gardener’s Delight

Gardener’s Delight will need to be securely staked and tied in where possible. Water frequently, especially in dry, hot conditions, and feed regularly with liquid tomato fertiliser.

Ensure you pinch out the side shoots as the plant begins to grow.

Gardener’s Delight is always a winner, and you can rely on it to produce heavy crops grown outdoors or in a greenhouse. It can grow to a height of 200cm with around 50cm spread.

Growing ‘Sweet Million’ F1 Hybrid seeds

Sweet cherry charms

Our Sweet Million F1 seeds were from Thompson & Morgan, and these also all germinated effortlessly.

It’s a good job we like cherry tomatoes as this delightful variety of Sweet Million F1 keeps on producing extra sweet fruits.

‘Sweet Million’ F1 Hybrid tomatoes hanging on the vine within our herb patch
‘Sweet Million’ F1 Hybrid tomatoes

I haven’t counted them all yet; however, they will undoubtedly be in three figures.

Sweet Million’ F1 Hybrid is similar in appearance to Gardener’s Delight and will grow to a height of 200cm and 50cm spread. These tomato plants will undoubtedly need to be staked and tied.

Ensure you pinch out any side shoots, and once the plant produces 6 or 7 trusses, nip out the top of the main stem. These are also thirsty plants; therefore, water frequently and feed them with liquid tomato fertiliser to ensure you are rewarded with sweet juicy fruits.

Tomato San Marzano 2

Number one for a sauce

Our San Marzano 2 seeds were from Suttons, and out of the three seeds I planted, two of them germinated. I was pretty pleased with this.

The San Marzano 2 tomatoes are fantastic for producing sauces as they have very few seeds. They dangle from their trusses in a chunky plum shape and are deep red in colour, especially on the inside. They are just crying out to be used on a pizza base.

San Marzano 2 tomatoes hanging on the vine on our courtyard patio
San Marzano 2

The San Marzano 2 will definitely need to be securely staked and tied in to ensure they can support the weight of their fruit.

Water frequently, especially in dry, hot conditions, and feed regularly with liquid tomato fertiliser; they will reward you for your efforts.

San Marzano 2 can be grown in a greenhouse or outside; ensure you pinch out side shoots as the plant begins to grow.

All our tomato plants have been grown outside and are loving the current conditions in southeast England.

Cooking with tomatoes

The recipes are almost endless

You can enjoy tomatoes in so many ways, and they don’t always have to be cooked. One of Gary’s favourite dishes he first sampled in Granada, Spain, was ‘Pan Con Tomate’.

Gary has recreated this dish a few times at home, and here is his recipe for Pan Con Tomate that can be found on our sister website, 'Our World for You’.

There are only a few ingredients required, and very quick to prepare. It is a vegetarian dish; however, if you love Serrano ham, lay a slice across the top.

A single slice of the Pan con Tomate, topped with Serano ham on a table in our conservatory. In the background, slightly out of focus, is a carafe of orange juice, a glass of orange juice and a latte coffee in a tall glass cup.
Pan con Tomate
I know we are still in the early stages of our tomato crop, yet we’ve already used them in quite a few dishes. So far, they have been slowly oven-roasted, used in a homemade ratatouille, roasted, and blitzed for a pasta sauce, sprinkled across salads, and we’ve made a rich tomato base for a pizza.

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