End of the Tomato Season – 2020

The season is over, all the plants are pulled up and the harvest processed, stored and ready for use over the winter.

Its been a peculiar year for a number of (largely unrelated) reasons. I terms of the size of the crop, its been good (a total of just over 40kg of useable tomatoes of various sizes and colours). I’m slightly surprised at this because my plants have been affected by some form of disease which I have at various times thought to be blight, wilt or bacterial canker. After all my searching through the web and asking others what they thought, I remain perplexed. It certainly wasn’t late blight because the plants (whilst “poorly”) survived and the fruit ripened successfully. However, the fruit had the small “halo” marks typical of bacterial canker (as far as I can tell) but they all seemed to survive and tasted as good as I would expect.

I had more plants than I would normally have grown because COVID-19 prevented me from offloading plants to my children as I would normally expect so their plants (all determinate varieties) added to the plants grown at home.

More of those plants were grown outdoors as my polytunnel after many years of service succumbed to the wind and the cover split. Its now been converted to a netting cover which keeps the squirrels out but does nothing about the weather. Again, the original plan was to plant strawberries but COVID got in the way of my purchasing. Growing them in the greenhouse meant that there wasn’t room for any peppers, something I need to correct next year.

The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent?

There are some tomato cultivars I try to grow every year because I like them. Then there are new varieties which I haven’t grown before and finally there are the bulk tomatoes, grown to make up the numbers and make sure there are enough tomatoes to eat, freeze & chutney. (I’ve tried to colour code the next bit).

Successes for the year have been: Brown Berry; Darby Stripe; Green Grapes; Marizol Gold; Oleron Yellow; Rosella; Sandpoint; Summer Cider

So all of these go forward to 2021

Failures have been: Brad’s Atomic; Ildi; Lemon Tree; Pink Brandywine; Tumbling Tom Red

Brad’s Atomic was a complete failure. The fruits were soft and squidgy and really poor tasting they didn’t even look nice. Lemon Tree had the typically mealy flavour of many yellow tomatoes and a very thick skin which didn’t help. Ildi, Pink Brandywine and Tumbling Tom Red just didn’t crop very well.

All the others have done acceptably well but really not the “stand-out” success one would hope for: Ailsa Craig; Bloody Butcher; Blue Ambrosia; Crimson Crush; Dancing with Smurfs; Father Frost; Garden Pearl; Gardener’s Delight; Heinz 9129; Kumato; Maskotka; Mortgage Lifter; Mountain Magic (F2); Principe Borghese; Quedliberger Fruhe Liebe; Red Robin; Tiny Tim.

Now the above is based mainly upon flavour and quantity. However, I will say that Kumato, Blue Ambrosia and Dancing with Smurfs probably deserve a second chance. Whilst their flavour is nothing to write home about, their colour is different enough to make them of interest.

In addition, Bloody Butcher I grow because I like the fact that its early (but this year it wasn’t particularly early beaten by Maskotka and a couple of others and Mortgage Lifter, I just like the story behind it.

Next Year (2021)

Because my plants got “something” I’m not taking part in the tomato seed swap this year (I wouldn’t want to distribute some disease). I’m also going to have to make sure all my pots, tubs & greenhouses are squeakily cleansed and use new compost (I usually half fill my growing pots with garden compost and that could be the source). So, unless I buy some seed, I won’t have a range of new varieties to try. I also want to make sure I’ve space for some peppers (as well as cucumbers and physalis) so that will (potentially) mean fewer plants.

Thus I need to concentrate on plants that crop well and tasted nice for their use.