After a bit of a shaky start – cold weather made it impossible to clear the decks of all the veg plants to make room for the toms to go in – I am glad to say that the tomatoes are all doing OK (touch wood). Some are setting – mostly the cherry toms – and the rest are growing strongly. They are all supported by twine and they need the sideshoots removed twice a week, they are growing that fast!
I have the cherry toms and cherry-plums on the side of the greenhouse with the most height so I can get lots of trusses (clusters of fruit) on these and the stockier beefsteak and other big toms are on the shorter side. The big’uns take longer to ripen so I can’t get so many trusses on these before the weather cools so I only need height for about four trusses.
So far I have done no extra feeding – they had chicken pellets and dried seaweed added to the soil before planting and the beds are mulched with about 8cm of partly composted strawy manure and oak leaves (it was composted for about 6 months). This will add humus to the soil, keeps in moisture, keeps down the weeds and feeds the plants. Weeds are important because just a few stray chickweed plants will attract greenfly.
A general view of the plants with physalis in the foreground
Some of the plants are ‘potato-leaved’ varieties like this ‘Janet’s Jacinthe Jewel’. Most (but maybe not all) potato-leaved toms have large fruits.
You can tell if a plant is going to have large fruits by the flowers. Instead of the usual starry flowers with five petals the flowers are almost double with lots of petals. Do not expect every flower in the truss to make a fruit. Usually only three to five flowers ‘sets’ but when the fruits weight 500g or more that is still a lot for the plants to support. You also often find with these older types that things get mixed up and the trusses may end in a leaf or even a shoot. Just pinch that off.
In contrast, a cherry tom like this ‘Sungold’ will have regular, starry flowers. Notice the more spindly growth that is typical of cherry toms.
This is ‘Amish Paste’ which has the unnerving habit of looking like it is dry, even when it is not. The leaves hang limply at the top of the plant. Note that, like so many heirloom types, it does not always know what to do and the ‘lead shoot’ split into two where the truss of flowers was produced so I just cut one off.
Although everyone grows their toms in a different way I prefer to control their growth and remove sideshoots so I get larger, better quality fruits and to allow the air to get to them. I do not strip off the lower leaves until they turn yellow though – it is warmth and not direct sun that causes them to ripen. This ‘Black Russian’ has a sideshoot at the right that needs to be removed. If the plants are full of water, early in the day, they snap off easily – later they are cut of with a knife so I do not risk damaging the main stems
This is ‘Britain’s Breakfast’ my favourite cooking tom. Each truss can have 100 or more flowers and a large proportion of these ‘set’ so I only let two trusses develop on each plant.
‘Tomatoberry Garden’ is supposed to have strawberry-shaped fruits. It is looking distinctive already. I have not grown this before even though it is not very new and I have a nasty feeling it will be a bit too firm and crunchy for my taste – we will see.
On to the grafted tomtatoes that I mentioned earlier in the year. Despite my worries they are romping away and are now just about as big as the ‘normal’ toms. I have just potted them into big pots. They are various cherry toms grafted onto ‘Mayan Twilight’ potatoes.
My only worry with them is that the potato stems have not increased in girth so I will have to be very careful with my staking. It seems impossible that the tiny potato stem can push up enough water to feed the tomato. Removing suckers from the potato base is a constant job
I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.