Tomatoes. Everything about them screams sunshine and deliciousness. And while I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, I absolutely love the smell of tomato plants – which is just as well, because I decided to go for it with bells on this year and sow eight different varieties, most of them heirlooms.
The Irish weather being what it is, I decided to hedge my bets and raise about half my plants indoors in pots. The ones that got the outdoor treatment are in raised beds – Moneymaker, Costoluto Genovese, Gold Medal and Grushovka. A lone ‘100’s & 1000’s’ plant swings from one of those upside-down planters on a tree in the back garden. Inside, I’ve got more Costoluto Genovese, Marmande, Gardener’s Delight and Red Zebra. All I need now is enough sun to ripen them all.
In terms of reward, I’ll have to wait for a taste test to decide which of the varieties I chose will make it back onto my list for next year. But if the unripened fruits are anything to go by, the biggest winners – certainly in terms of volume – are the Grushovka and Marmande.
Both of these were grown from heirloom seeds – according to the Real Seed Company (source of the Grushovka seed), the Grushovka tomatoes are a very rare variety, producing large pink tomatoes, halfway between a plum and an ox-heart type, ‘with an excellent flavour’. Their claim that this bush variety is ‘prolific’ certainly seems a good one, if my two plants are anything to go by – hardly surprising when you learn that Grushovka originated in the Altai mountain region, on the Siberian-Chinese border. If these babies turn out to taste good, they’ll be perfect for growing next year.
For tips on growing tomatoes from seed – and looking after them once they’re off and running, click here.