Every year, without fail I pack my greenhouse to the rafters with tomato plants. Tomatoes are one of my least favourite foods, in fact I don't really like them at all. But I love growing them, hubby likes eating them and I like making passata to store in the freezer for winter pasta dishes.
I had some Franchi seeds (San Marzano and St Pierre) left over from a previous year and also 'rediscovered' some seed swap varieties hidden in the bottom of my overflowing tin that I had yet to try out. So I sowed 4 varieties in February – my new varieties for 2013 being Cuor di Bue (Ox Heart) and Tigerella.
Space is really an issue in my little concrete-floored greenhouse, but with a bit of grow-bag jiggery-pokery, I can shoehorn 8 plants onto my restricted floor space, leaving the staging surface clear for chilli plants and smaller plant propagules in trays.
The very late spring meant that it was early June before I moved them outside, my final planting tally being 2 each of Cuor di Bue and Tigerella and 1 each of San Marzano and St Pierre. The wonderfully warm weather in June and July brought the plants on well and they flowered strongly. But pollination seemed to be an issue for some of them (despite tapping the plants regularly to distribute pollen and leaving the greenhouse door open as often as possible).
The Cuor di Bue crop has been the largest in terms of fruit size – huge double or triple fruits with a very 'meaty' texture and few seeds.
The Tigerella crop was wave upon wave of small juicy fruits, which is continuing still well into September. According to those who have tasted them, these are the sweetest tomatoes I've grown so far.
Of my 2 Franchi varieties, St Pierre has been a moderate harvest with some nice sized fruits but San Marzano was certainly the worst. A single plant produced fewer than 10 fruits, none of which exceeded 5 or 6cm in length. Quite disappointing really, compared with other years.
But all the tomatoes have been regularly collected as they've ripened and roasted as a mixture to form the base of my pasta dishes for the months to come. Now that's how I do like to eat my tomatoes!