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Latest posts by Italophile

Tomato variety suggestions

Posted: 19/08/2014 at 08:38

MM, we've got friends in Dorset - around Blandford - and I give them seeds. They can grow beefsteaks in an unheated greenhouse. In a good summer, obviously, like last year. In ordinary summers they struggle to get a crop.

I've had a look around the UK seed suppliers for some nice varieties. I know nothing about this supplier's history or reputation but they have two excellent varieties - Anna Russian and Cherokee Purple. Both highly recommended.

Anna Russian is a dark pink heart-shaped indeterminate variety. My wife's favourite, I grow it every year. Hearts usually take a while to mature but AR is earlier than usual and is also much more prolific than a typical heart. Lovely rich but delicate flavour. The plant never looks sturdy; in fact, it looks like it could flop over at any time, but looks are deceiving. While it needs lots of tying up, it's as tough as old boots, its branches spreading like octopus tentacles.

They call Cherokee Purple a beefsteak but it's more of an oblate. Regardless, it's a delicious rich complex flavour. I gave a friend in Umbria a plant and he reckons it's the best tom he's ever tasted. I wouldn't go that far but it certainly gives your taste buds a real kick. Indeterminate, but never much more than a medium-sized plant.

They also list a couple of Costoluto varieties. I think they're the Italian beefsteaks Monty Don grows. They're the best-known Italian beefsteaks outside Italy. I've tried them a couple of times over the years and found them bland. There are many better varieties around.


Tomato variety suggestions

Posted: 17/08/2014 at 08:59

How long is your growing season, MM? Beefsteaks, being larger, can take 75+ days from planting out to maturity.

Tomato problems

Posted: 16/08/2014 at 11:20

I agree. The marks on the toms look like either hail damage or bugs having had a suck. 

Tomato problems

Posted: 16/08/2014 at 07:35

Photos will help, Bf. How did they look when you last saw them?

Update on last year's tomato problems

Posted: 15/08/2014 at 09:32

They're too sweet for my taste, StRuth. They also have a tendency to split on the vine prior to maturity.

Update on last year's tomato problems

Posted: 15/08/2014 at 08:19

OL, the plums are more prone to BER for some reason. No one knows why, probably something genetic. I've had them planted in the same bed as other varieties - identical soil, watering, everything - and they turn up with BER while the other varieties don't. That's not to say you shouldn't grow them. It doesn't affect the entire crop, it's just irritating.

I only grow heirlooms so that limits my recommendations. Send me a PM with your growing set up - conditions, etc - and I might have some appropriate varieties I can send you to try.

Update on last year's tomato problems

Posted: 14/08/2014 at 17:39

I think Dove is close to the market with the variety selection. There are many hybrid varieties that simply don't offer much taste. One of the first things to suffer when hybridising is flavour. I'd either seek out a hybrid known to have flavour or try some heirlooms. Heirlooms are no harder to grow, the production is sometimes variable, but even an average heirloom outstrips most hybrids for flavour. The great heirloom toms knock your taste socks off.

Pruning tomato vines

Posted: 14/08/2014 at 11:01

Yes, remove the side shoots of indeterminates. They will develop into growing tips and, as a rule of thumb, you restrict indeterminates to two growing tips per plant.

And, yes, toms don't need direct sunlight to ripen. Otherwise why do they ripen when you take them inside? Temperature controls ripening, not direct sunlight.

That said, there are times when it's a good idea to thin out some of the healthy foliage in the cause of air circulation as a help against fungal problems. Fungal spores love a mass of impenetrable foliage. You just have to be judicious with your pruning. 

Ripening tomatoes and chillies

Posted: 13/08/2014 at 08:00

It's down to temperatures, Jason. Optimum temps for toms to ripen is low-20sC+. Overnight temps should be factored in too. Lower the temp, the longer they will take. There comes a point where it will be consistently warmer inside than outside. That's when to take them inside. 

tomato plants in containers all going pale

Posted: 09/08/2014 at 08:10

Patience indeed. The fruit doesn't need direct sunlight to ripen either, rm. Temperature is the key. Optimum is low-20sC and above. The lower the regular temps below that, the longer they will take.

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