Tomato Variety Trials
Are you considering which tomato variety to grow this year?
Well I’ll give you some pointers from a relatively recent trial.
Shop bought tomatoes in Winter
Sadly the home grown crop is gone. The Canary Isle and Spanish impostors are back on the supermarket shelves!
Yes, it’s that time of year when the only good thing about tomatoes in the shops is their colour!
But I’m being rather harsh with my criticism since during recent winters I have noticed some marked improvements in flavour.
I’ve been particularly impressed with tomatoes imported from Italy and I’m hopeful that now we have left the European Union that we will still be able to buy those. The tomato variety ‘Piccolo’ is especially impressive.
Why not go the heritage variety route?
A friend grew those varied and attractive looking heritage varieties in my picture above. We found that many had superb flavour. However, many did not and these oldies often lack disease resistance.
However I’m not necessarily recommending growing old varieties. Many modern varieties not only taste good but have excellent disease resistance too.
A bit of tomato history
Tomatoes are occasionally referred to as ‘love apples’. They were thought to have aphrodisiac properties.
Perhaps aware of this, Suttons Seeds launched a very compact variety called ‘Heartbreaker Vita F1’. This has appropriately heart shaped fruits. It’s also a variety that could easily be grown in a pot on a sunny balcony.
We have been eating tomatoes since the late 1500 s and of all the vegetables that we can grow, surely this is one of the most productive and worthwhile?
Whether you grow an old or new tomato variety this fruit is good for you! They are full of vitamins and are good for your heart and cardiovascular system.
If you want to find out more about why eating tomatoes is good for you there’s more information here.
Tomato Variety trial results
Ball Colegrave has conducted tasting trials for the last few years.
These are held at their trial grounds near Banbury, Oxfordshire.
The yellow/red tomato variety ‘Sungold’ topped the taste charts!
This comes as no surprise to me.
Since it’s a variety that I have strongly recommended since conducting our own blind tasting trials way back in the 1990 s.
‘Sungold’, as its’ name implies, is more yellow than red but has delightfully sweet tasty small fruits.
It is also very heavy yielding and grows well indoor or out but the fruits are inclined to split their skins.
This is a variety that can be eaten just like sweets and of course are much healthier than them too!
Many of the sweetest tasting varieties have small cherry sized fruits.
In fact these tasting trials, conducted by gardeners who visit these trial grounds each summer are dominated by small fruited varieties.
In the year that I visited the trial ‘F1 Sweet Million’ came second to ‘Sungold’.
Previously ‘F1 Sweet Aperitif’ had won and is certainly worth hunting down.
A brown fruited variety called ‘Chocolate Cherry’ has done well in the past but wasn’t in the top ten this time.
Perhaps the appearance and colour has an over-riding influence over our taste buds?
Of course nutrition plays its part in flavour. Those plants regularly fed with balanced tomato feed definitely have the sweetest fruit.
So for this reason alone regular feeding with a specific tomato fertiliser is well worthwhile.
Other Tomato Varieties
Other varieties that showed consistency were ‘F1 Suncherry Premium’ and the prolific ‘Sweet Million’.
Plum shaped varieties ‘F1 Trilly’ and ‘Rosada’ did well too.
But what of those varieties that most gardeners grow?
‘Moneymaker’ languished 40th in 2011, ‘Gardeners’ Delight’ 16th and 13th in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
‘Alicante’ 35th and fared better last year at 12th but I sense that this is not the whole picture.
The number of varieties in the trial in 2012 was less and the more respectable scores of the popular varieties gives a misleading result.
But there is no getting away from it and proves that these old varieties are not the tastiest tomatoes to grow!
If you want the sweetest tasting tomatoes, you need to look at the cherry sized varieties and ignore the skin colour.
There’s plenty of time before you need to sow seed – I’m writing this in mid January – as the best time is during March and April.
Here’s some tips on growing tomatoes.
I’ve also written a blog on growing tomatoes here.
New seeds are in store now so what will you be growing next year?
And are you finally going to turn your back on those old, but well known, varieties?