DISPATCH FROM THE GARDEN FRONT – TOMATOES

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It’s been a better-than-average year for my tomatoes.  If you grow them outside, without benefit of glasshouse or polytunnel, as I do, I think you have to see them as an autumn fruit, But with our long, hot summer, they blossomed early, fruited early and ripened early. Well, earlier, if I’m honest – I’m still eating them and it’s well into autumn, I grow them in polystyrene boxes filled with the usual compost stuff you buy at any garden centre. The polystyrene boxes hold dampness rather well, and so I haven’t had to worry about watering quite so much when I gallivanting around various countries as I have this year.

Anyway, enough of the techno-babble. There are far more expert gardeners than I when it comes to that. I’m really only interested in flavour. In my search for the perfect range of tomatoes – probably 3 given the space of my garden – I’ve tried 8 this year, some with one and some with two plants.  As you can see from the photo, my tomatoes wouldn’t even make the irregular or dodgy section that have suddenly become fashionable in certain supermarkets. Ah, but what about flavour? They all tasted far superior – that is cleaner, clearer, more intense and varied and better defined than any I’ve bought. I don’t think its just my imagination or boastful pride. 

 Here are my tasting notes:

Costeluto Fiorentino

Impressive size; medium skinned; soft flesh; mild; not sweet; better fried or cooked.

Costeluto di Parma

Medium skinned; sharp, fresh flavour; good salad tomato.

John Baer

Long time favourite of mine; thick skin; firm flesh; sweet, meaty flavour; nice acidity/sweetness balance; good in salads or as bruschetta

Marmande (Bush)

Smaller than I expected; thick skin; firm flesh; a bit nondescript in the flavour department

Noire de Crimée

Surprise package; rather dashing appearance; sound flesh; long, fresh, meaty (ie rich in umami) flavour; long finish; excellent tomato all round

Orange Paruche F1

In place of my usual Sungold; a very good alternative; less sweet and more fruity; punches above its size in terms of flavour

Pantano 

Another excellent fryer; more acidity that the Costeluto Fiorentino

Tomande

Oblate fruit (so it says on the seed packet); quite fleshy; distinct flavour; good balance between sweetness an acidity; also rich in umami 

2 thoughts on “DISPATCH FROM THE GARDEN FRONT – TOMATOES

  1. Good dispatch, Matt. A couple of varieties there I’ll definitely try in the future (John Baer and Noire de Crimée). I went exclusively Gardener’s Delight this year (having found a proper version of this infuriatingly hit-and-miss variety), grown in our new raised bed. A very good crop, propelled by all that sunshine, but the flavour still didn’t have that ‘oh-my-god’ quality I remember from growing these before when in London. Do you feed your toms? I was reading James Wong’s book Growing for Flavour and may employ some of his tricks next year. How did you avoid rot during the damp August by the way?

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. I agree that John Baer and Noire de Crimée are the ones to try. I’ve never really felt at home with Gardener’s Delight.I’m not much of a technologist when it comes to the actual growing. I plant in ordinary tomato grow-bag compost and feed (when I remember) with Tomorite about once a week when the fruits are set, As for blight and rot, I just pray. I get one or the other about one summer in three.

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