TOMATO TRIALS @GLOBAL GARDENS
Did you know that there are an estimated 10,000 varieties of tomatoes growing globally? This year, at Global Gardens, we have been celebrating tomato diversity. As part of our Tomato Celebrations, we hosted a Tomato Trial - which aimed to explore the health, vigour and taste of 8 different tomato varieties. Before revealing the results, Poppy offers an overview of tomato variety diversity - including fruit type and growth habit.
Tomato fruit types
Tomato varieties are grouped into different categories:
Cherry tomatoes - which tend to be sweet, small and round.
Salad tomatoes - which tend to be more savoury tasting, medium-sized and round.
Plum tomatoes - which tend to be less juicy, more pulpy and plum-shaped, usually cultivated for cooking.
Beefsteak tomatoes - which tend to be very large and used in salads and cooking.
Whilst these are some of the main tomato groups, there are many other distinct tomato variety types which don't quite fit a category including Ox-heart (named for it's distinctive heart-shape) and Centiflor (which has branches that have hundreds of tomatoes!)
Tomato growth habits
Most modern tomato cultivars grow in quite a different way from their bushy, clambering wild ancestors.
Growers in the UK tend to grow tomatoes on the vine, with one central stem or leader that generally grows between 1.8-2.4m tall. Side shoots need to be pinched out to encourage growth on the central stem. These varieties are known as ‘non-determinate’ growth types and tend to have an extended season with tomatoes ripening throughout the summer.
There are also ‘determinate’ growth type tomatoes which tend to be bushy, about 90cm - 1.2m tall, with side-shoots bearing fruit. Side-shoots don’t need to be pinched out and fruits tend to ripen over a shorter period.
Blight - the bane of UK tomato growing!
Blight is one of the major challenges to growing tomatoes in the UK, particularly for outside tomatoes.
In the UK there are currently also several crop trials on blight-resistant varieties. This includes the Pirambella variety cultivated by Real Seeds.
Global Gardens Crop trials
At Global Gardens this year we have been growing 8 varieties - 2 cherry (Black Cherry, Gardener’s Delight and Miele de Mexique), several salad tomatoes (Ailsa Craig, Bloody Butcher and Golden Sunrise) and one beefsteak (Pink Georgian).
In our Tomato Trial we considered plant health, growth habit, productivity and taste. Pink Georgian and Gardener’s Delight varieties came joint first. We agreed they are both delicious, with healthy looking, productive plants. Whilst the Golden Sunrise was one of the most productive of varieties cultivated and Black Cherry particulalry tasty, Pink Georgian and Gardener’s Delight scored high across all of the categories. We are particualrly chuffed that the Pink Georgian beefsteak tomato scored highly as it is one of our first heirloom varieties cultivated at Global Gardens, shared by Sebastian when he visited his partner's homeland of Georgia.