Tomato Tales

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Two interesting recently developed tomato varieties. An impulse buy this spring of tomato seeds, called Oh Happy Day F1, has led to a large crop. I think the packet cost three pounds for eight seeds. The packet said the tomatoes were blight resistant, and as I write this in late August, they have lived up to the claim, despite my potatoes having succumbed to blight weeks ago. They are said to be a cross between a North American blight resistant variety and a French Marmande type. The resulting fruit is large to medium in size, red and with a good, though mild, flavour. They are okay eaten raw but are great for cooking. 

Oh Happy Day

The seeds were started off in mid March on my bathroom windowsill then potted on. The resulting plants were planted out into open ground on the allotment in late May, and given a top dressing of a couple of inches of my home made compost. Once established they have needed very little watering and have grown to about 5 feet high and needing to be well staked as they have set a large crop. I always give a helping hand to pollinate tomatoes, tapping the flower trusses gently with a stick to get the pollen to fall onto the stigma. Each truss has set between five and seven fruits and there are more than five trusses on each plant. As the plants have grown, I have pinched out the side-shoots that grow out from the leaf joints and continue to tie the plants to the bamboo stakes.
As the plants are F1, a first generation cross between two different varieties, they will probably not come true from seed, but I will still collect seed from the fruits on the third trusses and save them to try out next year.

Indigo Beauty photo©RogerDean

The other fairly recently bred tomato which I now grow every year is the open pollinated Indigo Beauty. These tomatoes are indeed very beautiful with skin that is dark blue on the top and reddish pink at the bottom. They also taste great both raw and cooked and are a treat to give away to friends. The fruits are fairly large with a thin skin and the internal colour is pinkish red. I grow these in my greenhouse and also in large pots against the wall of my house where they get shelter from the rain. I do usually have to cut off a few of the leaves on the outdoor plants as they get blight, but this seems to stop the whole plant succumbing, and I get good crops which ripen well inside and out. The trusses of fruits can get very heavy so I often have to tie them up to an extra support to stop the stalk of the truss bending under the weight of the fruits. This tomato looks like a trendy Heritage Tomato but apparently has been conventionally bred this century from work initially started by Oregon State University and then continued by independent growers. As this variety is open pollinated they will come true from seed. Apparently when collecting home grown tomato seed, it is always best not to collect it from the first two trusses.  I got my original seed from the lovely small independent seed company, Simpson’s Seeds based in a walled garden in Wiltshire, and after a few years of saving my own I buy new seed from them as I only grow a few plants and this could lead to inbreeding and weak plants.

Post by Tessa

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