Some gardeners grow the same variety of tomato every year, which is fine if the performance is good.
Moneymaker, Shirley and Gardeners’ Delight are established favourites that remain popular. But I prefer widening the selection and consequently have several cultivars in the greenhouse border each year, including at least one newcomer.
These arrive via saved seed, packets of bought seed and grafted specimens on trial, such as the potato- tomato plant Tomtato. It had a good, sweet crop above but not many potatoes below.
Last year we grew the Italian San Marzano which passed the kitchen test so seed was saved by pulling a fruit apart and spreading the pulpy contents on a kitchen towel. After two days the seed was spread evenly on a fresh sheet and popped into an envelope and cool storage. Sowing amounts to unfolding the sheet, placing it on the tray of compost, covering with vermiculite and making moist.
Beefsteak-type tomatoes such as Big Boy and Marmande look spectacular on the plant and slice up well for summer sandwiches. So there’s no surprise that seed firm Van Meuwen sold all 500 packets of the latest star Gigantomo (above) which they launched in a blaze of publicity for 2015.
Almost 20 years had been spent in the breeding when it was introduced in the USA last year. It has tomatoes 10 inches across, which can reach 3lbs in weight.
Perhaps announcing a National Gigantomo Championship class at this autumn’s Harrogate Show (September 18-20) with £1,000 for the heaviest fruit, and £5,000 if it breaks the existing world record of 7lbs 12ozs, has also helped sales, and encouraged them to fill 10,000 more packets of seed.
Interested? You can buy six seeds for £3.99 or five plug plants for £14.99 at www.vanmeuwen.com/tomato-gigantomo or call 0844 5571850.
Footnote: Alnwick Garden Club meets next Tuesday at 7.30pm in the Town Hall.