"How to grow tasty tomatoes"

General tips / questions on seeding & planting

Moderators: KG Steve, Chantal, Tigger, peter

User avatar
Ricard with an H
KG Regular
Posts: 2145
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:16 am
Location: North Pembrokeshire. West Wales.
x 56

"How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Ricard with an H » Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:00 am

Me, I have never grown tasty tomatoes and don't have a greenhouse so I gave up on the idea until now.

An article by James Wong in BBC Good Food magazine says, "Ditch the greenhouse, ditch the grow bags and other controversial ideas he has put into practice which reinforce my notion that the marketing of growing things in pots and bags is all about selling stuff rather than best-practice.

James says growing in the garden soil is better for flavour, he uses aspirin and molasses for nutrient.

If it's possible for you to find this article on line or even buy the magazine if you are keen on growing tomatoes.

I'm giving it a go though I don't know if I should buy-in grafted plants or sow my own seed.
0 x
How are you supposed to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle if it completely removes a wine lover’s reason to live?
Richard.
User avatar
Pa Snip
KG Regular
Posts: 3091
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 8:20 pm
Location: Near the big house on the hill Berkshire
x 795

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Pa Snip » Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:26 am

Only ever tried growing tomatoes in greenhouse once, failed miserably to remember to keep them sufficiently watered. Abject failure on my part so I only ever grow outside.

Couple of years back I was visiting a garden centre that had some really manky grafted tomato plants from a very very well known seed & plant supplier. Was two varieties grafted to one plant.

Was late in planting season and they were leggy as hell.
Shows how bad they were they were reduced from £4.99 and £5.99 each to 50p.

I purchased 4 for my own plot, planted them up outdoors in well manured ground............... result was a 50lb very tasty crop.

Mind you we have always found home grown toms to be tasty and haven't resorted to molasses and never heard the toms complaining of headache.

However I have not paid full price for grafted plants since and don't think I would ever do so. I'll stick with growing from seed unless another bargain crops up..
0 x

The danger when people start to believe their own publicity is that they often fall off their own ego.

At least travelling under the guise of the Pa Snip Enterprise gives me an excuse for appearing to be on another planet
User avatar
Ricard with an H
KG Regular
Posts: 2145
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:16 am
Location: North Pembrokeshire. West Wales.
x 56

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Ricard with an H » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:25 am

Thanks very much for a vote of confidence Mr Snip, first thing I thought was that most parts of the Royal County are very much more sheltered than us and whilst our 'close-to-the-water' temperatures are usually a few degrees higher than you that difference is soon reduced by our exposure to wind.

Take the last few days/weeks, if you get into a sheltered corner you can sit in your Y-fronts but I'm still wearing expedition underwear under my working clothes. And a wooly hat.

A sheltered corner today could be a windy spot in a few days so I have to make the shelter and my proven method last year was a vertical enviromesh screen to protect my French climbing beans, it worked so I'm planning on the same for tomatoes and I just sowed Alicante.

The choice was from free packets, Moneymaker and Alicante.
0 x
How are you supposed to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle if it completely removes a wine lover’s reason to live?
Richard.
User avatar
Geoff
KG Regular
Posts: 5004
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:33 pm
Location: Forest of Bowland
x 781

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Geoff » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:01 pm

I'll reply later - spent the day online to Microsoft trying to persuade my computer to install two updates from February that fail every day, all others are OK, starting again 07:30 tomorrow. I have the article so I'll type up some quotes from it then I and others can comment on it. Basically I can see some sound stuff in there but a lot of impracticality - do you really want to grow plants with only one truss?
0 x
User avatar
Ricard with an H
KG Regular
Posts: 2145
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:16 am
Location: North Pembrokeshire. West Wales.
x 56

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Ricard with an H » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:42 pm

I have to take our Mac to friends house to download software updaters because our speeds are so low at times it's like a dial-up.

Nipping of after the first truss might be good here and rather have more plants though I'm entirely in your hands when it comes to experience. I had cabbage plants ripped out of the ground by strong winds in August though that was before the sea-buckthorn hedge has established itself.

Thanks for taking up the opportunity to comment though Geoff.
0 x
How are you supposed to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle if it completely removes a wine lover’s reason to live?
Richard.
User avatar
Geoff
KG Regular
Posts: 5004
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:33 pm
Location: Forest of Bowland
x 781

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Geoff » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:08 pm

James Wong “How to grow tasty tomatoes” Good food April 2015

This seems to me to an article written in haste to meet a deadline as it has some inconsistencies but here are some quotes and comments.

Varieties:
Sauces: San Marzano, Corazon
Cherry: Sungold, Gardener’s Delight, Green Envy
Slicing: Pink Brandywine, Belriccio
Salsa: Green Zebra

I don’t know all of them; the surprise is Gardener’s Delight, as we have discussed on here it is very variable but can be good.

He doesn’t say what compost to raise the seedlings in but eventually plants them out 20cm/8” apart outside. He suggests not using a greenhouse as glass cuts out 40% of the light. “Planting your crops outside can result in a noticeable spike in sweetness”. He also suggests not using compost or grow bags. “Almost all potting mixes are based on materials that naturally have a low level of minerals and nutrients. This ties gardeners into relying on high-cost liquid feeds that are designed to boost yield not flavour. Plants grown in well managed ground have access to a far broader range of naturally occurring minerals including micronutrients not found in most liquid feeds”. He also says “Be mean with the water. Water your plants regularly for the first month gradually tapering off to an absolute minimum. Once your plants are established, water only very lightly when they show visible signs of wilting”. He feeds with molasses (450g in 9 litres of water) every two weeks and gives a foliar spray of aspirin (¼ to ½ tablet in 1 litre of water) with a bit of seaweed extract once a month.

It’s his “Pruning and Training” I don’t quite follow.

“For regular and beefsteak varieties. As soon as the first bunch of fruit sets, pinch out the growing tip of the plant three leaves above this truss and remove all side shoots – you should barely need to stake or prune again”. He also suggests limiting trusses to 4-5 fruits. So if I have read it correctly he is advocating 4-5 fruits per plant.

“For cherry varieties. Allow the vigorous ‘king shoot’ (the side shoot immediately below the flower truss) to develop to create a short Y-shaped plant before pinching out the tip three leaves after its first fruit set.” He also suggests limiting trusses to 8-10 fruits. I don’t follow this but it might mean two trusses per plant of 8-10 fruits each.

I grow all my tomatoes either in greenhouse/polytunnel borders or in wooden troughs filled with home made soil based compost plus a few outside. I add FBB and extra potash and phosphate to reduce the nitrogen ratio and use very little extra feed during the season. We barter tomatoes for eggs and the farmer is very disappointed when he has to revert to tasteless bought tomatoes! I therefore agree growing in soil gives good tasty tomatoes. Limiting watering is a well known flavour enhancer, also applies to potatoes. The only thing I would take from this is I shall add some seaweed meal for its trace nutrients this year.

The pruning and training I find rather garbled and basically pretty silly. I don’t think you had better buy grafted plants Richard to produce 10 tomatoes each.
0 x
PLUMPUDDING
KG Regular
Posts: 3269
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:14 pm
Location: Stocksbridge, S. Yorks
x 380

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:38 pm

If you grow a good flavoured variety of tomato it will be good whether you grow it indoors or outside. I've tried over 60 different ones over the years and now stick to about 10 of my favourites. They are all heritage (not f1) varieties so I can save my own seed from the best ones every year. Also all tomatoes taste better in a sunny summer than our usual dull, cold, wet, mixed weather. If you don't over-water them they will also have a bit more flavour.

I don't bother growing them outdoors any more as they are much happier with a bit of protection and far less likely to be damaged by blight or any of the other problems they are susceptible to.

James Wong is a lovely chap and a very good ethno-botanist, but he isn't an expert gardener. He knows the science of plants and how they work and obviously likes to try different things. Also he lives in one of the milder parts of the UK and I don't think he appreciates that a lot of the more exotic plants he grows don't have an earthly of doing well, or even surviving in the colder parts of the country - I've tried a lot of them.

Back to tomatoes - I grow them in 12 inch deep bottomless pots in the greenhouse border in a soil based multi-purpose compost with a bit of blood fish and bone added and use a tomato feed that contains seaweed. Slugs like them, so another problem outdoors. If you can provide a warm sunny sheltered place outside then they could do well, but if you can't grow them under cover.

I've not tried giving them aspirin or molasses but if you look up the chemical composition they probably contain something that tomatoes like, but normal tomato food is fine, or comfrey tea etc.

Can't say I'm keen on any of the ones on his recommended list. Sun gold is ok but too sweet unless you pick it a bit under ripe.
0 x
User avatar
Motherwoman
KG Regular
Posts: 1000
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:03 am
Location: Isle of Wight
x 13

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Motherwoman » Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:50 pm

What a load of hoo hah from Mr Wong! Molasses and aspirin!?? What a lot of what he should be putting in the ground to get good flavour...... When did anyone pop out for a jar of molasses for the garden?

Limiting plants to 3 or 4 fruits on a plant? What a waste of a plant! Another case of a journalist not knowing aspidistra from his elephant garlic.

Grow in the soil, either in or out depending on your circumstances and bung a load of rotted down s**t various in the soil beforehand. Don't they just love to make it mysterious and complicated... :?

Feel better for getting that off my chest!

MW
0 x
User avatar
Pa Snip
KG Regular
Posts: 3091
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 8:20 pm
Location: Near the big house on the hill Berkshire
x 795

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Pa Snip » Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:06 pm

Motherwoman wrote:What a load of hoo hah from Mr Wong!

Feel better for getting that off my chest!

MW


:D Somehow I thought you did :D :D

But I have to agree with you
0 x

The danger when people start to believe their own publicity is that they often fall off their own ego.

At least travelling under the guise of the Pa Snip Enterprise gives me an excuse for appearing to be on another planet
User avatar
Ricard with an H
KG Regular
Posts: 2145
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:16 am
Location: North Pembrokeshire. West Wales.
x 56

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Ricard with an H » Fri May 01, 2015 7:22 am

I won't be using aspirin and molasses then :D

My view sitting back from all this, and because I have no decent experience, for me it's worth a go even if just to keep you-lot amused.

I have an idea to keep the wind off and I have lots of comfrey for nutrient and I would love to grow tomatoes if only to proudly give most of them away if I get masses.

I'm now confident about my soil. If light is such an issue then I can't use my original idea of forming a polytunnel-polythene cover over hoops for cool days so it'll be enviromesh covers.

When I read this article it did bring a smile, I was thinking about all those collective years of growing experience amongst you-lot and James bucking the trend for a contraversial two page article that poo-poos what has been written in stone about tomato growing for years.

Well done to James for creating enthusiasm (In me) at a time i'm pathetic.
0 x
How are you supposed to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle if it completely removes a wine lover’s reason to live?
Richard.
User avatar
Tigger
KG Regular
Posts: 3212
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:00 pm
Location: Shropshire

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Tigger » Sun May 24, 2015 1:13 am

We only grow grafted toms now, as we do cucumbers. They have a much bigger yield and rarely suffer from lack of water. We do San Marzano for cooking and preserving and a range of others for eating, baking, salads, etc, including cherry, purple, black and beef varieties.

We grow them in a tunnel in big pots with reservoir collectives (from ALDI), unrestricted until they get to the roof of the tunnel. They are unheated and fed every week with a regular tomato feed from the Pound Shop.

We've given up on outdoor tomatoes as last year resulted in a bunch of plants yielding only one edible tomato.
0 x
PLUMPUDDING
KG Regular
Posts: 3269
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:14 pm
Location: Stocksbridge, S. Yorks
x 380

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Sun May 24, 2015 8:37 am

Another thought on some of the experts' advice. It seems that a lot of them are suggesting that you should stop the plants after four or so trusses "so the plants put their energies into producing fruit". I have never taken the tops off any of mine and they keep producing loads of fruit on ten trusses or more (tied to the roof when they pass the end of the cane) until the end of the season. It may get smaller eventually, and some varieties stop naturally after four or five trusses depending on the type but why waste all that crop when the plants are happy to keep on producing?

Did you see the commercial producers who were growing them up to the roof then taking them down to the floor and up another support back up to the roof? They must have been over 20 ft long and still productive. It was on t.v. a year or two ago.
0 x
User avatar
Ricard with an H
KG Regular
Posts: 2145
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:16 am
Location: North Pembrokeshire. West Wales.
x 56

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby Ricard with an H » Sun May 24, 2015 8:55 am

I just got back from a week amongst fresh fruit and vegetables in Pollensa-Mallorca, whilst the toms and strawberries were a welcome sight along with everything else I was surprised that everything tasted so bland and supermarket-style.

We did buy from a market stall on the assumption the produce was local and artisan, cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, olives, bread and salad-stuff. I think it was all imported from mainland Spain.

After that disappointment I managed to locate some very exciting Balsamic, locally made by Germans and based on various berries and fruits. I have blackberry, blackcurrant, date and a lime/ginger one along with some very nice soft olive oil.
0 x
How are you supposed to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle if it completely removes a wine lover’s reason to live?
Richard.
PLUMPUDDING
KG Regular
Posts: 3269
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:14 pm
Location: Stocksbridge, S. Yorks
x 380

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Sun May 24, 2015 9:03 am

The balsamic sounds good Richard, there were some flavoured ones in Lidl a couple of weeks ago but I wasn't adventurous enough to try them. I'll have to see if they've any left. Do you use them just for salads?
0 x
User avatar
robo
KG Regular
Posts: 2434
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: st.helens
x 791

Re: "How to grow tasty tomatoes"

Postby robo » Sun May 24, 2015 10:11 am

We started growing tomatoes when we first got married in the early seventies, i built a timber frame on the back of our shed filled it with cow muck and covered it with polythene it was around 5 feet high and 5 feet square we planted around 6 plants we did this for around 5 years untill i built our first greenhouse, its easy to grow tomatoes nothing hard to do ive always planted into well manured soil although my wife growes cherry tomatoes in pots usually all over the plot where ever she can squeeze them in
0 x

Return to “Best practices”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests