Well it’s the first of March tomorrow and the weather had just started getting warmer outside (over 10 degrees C today) so thoughts have turned to this year’s plans for growing tomatoes in the my poly-tunnel (affectionately know by my wife as the Toma-dome).
Tomato Varieties To Grow
About four week’s ago I did get around to choosing the tomato varieties to grow and ordered the seeds I needed. I am being a bit meaner this year and am ordering much smaller quantities of the more expensive varieties of seeds and topping up on the cheaper but still tasty ones. I normally work on a germination rate of 90%+. I plan to use just my heated propagator this year and germinate the seeds in two batches of about 50 seeds per batch, so am hoping for a rate nearer 95%. It does seem to vary by variety as well so you can never be exact.
My 2013 Tomato variety hit list is:
- Brutus hybrid beef tomato: We had great success with it last year despite the rubbish summer and the taste was great. I love them grilled inside a bacon sandwich. If I try and germinate 14 seeds I should get the 12 seedlings I need.
- Gardeners Delight cherry tomato: This is great for salads. I’m going for 28 seeds or 24 seedlings.
- Alicante round tomato: This is your bog standard tomato and through the taste isn’t one to rave about they have a good yield of fruit and we also use them for soups and sauces. Again I’m going for 28 seeds or 24 seedlings.
- Rosada cherry plum tomato: I love the taste of these but since it costs £3.49 for six seeds I have only bought one packet rather than the four I purchased last year and hope that 5 germinate. The plan is to keep some of the seeds from this year’s crop for next year, to reduce the amount I spend with the seed suppliers. I say that every year so I wouldn’t be selling your shares in Thompson & Morgan or Suttons just yet.
- Pink Brandywine heritage beef tomato: Ugly big and wonderfully tasty tomato. One tomato can be a whole meal. I will try and germinate 6 seeds and hopefully get at least 5 seedlings.
- Matts Wild Cherry Tomato: A really tiny cherry tomato that is almost impossible to pick as the fruit are so delicate. Brilliant and delicious in salads. One year we picked an ice cream tub full and then left it on the kitchen worktop overnight, foolishly thinking that they would be safe from our dogs. For some reason our lurcher decided to steal them and take the tub back to her basket. When we found her the next morning, along with the remains of the tomatoes, she looked very sorry for herself. I doubt she learnt a lesson from this experience but we certainly did. Anyway I am going for 8 seeds and hope to get 7 seedlings.
- San Marzano Plumb Tomato: Italian variety which produces quite large plumb tomatoes which are good for sauces and soups. A little difficult to cluster prune but I hope I’ve got the right approach this year. I’m going for 10 seeds and hopefully 9 seedlings here.
So all up I’m going to try and germinate 100 seeds and get at least 84 seedlings which will allow me to plant seven rows of 12 plants in the polytunnel. A 90% plus germination rate should get me there with a few to spare.
I am off to dust off the heated propagator and lay my hands on rockwool starter cubes and some Formulex nutrient. I’ll be back soon to tell you how I got on.
See next diary entry on Choosing Tomato Varieties To Grow.