How to choose which tomatoes to grow
When choosing which tomatoes to grow, consider the types you most like to eat, their growing habit and level of hardiness and resistance to disease.
What are the most popular tomato types?
- Cherry tomatoes - Small and sweet, a brilliant bite size snack for kids and the ideal addition to salad leaves. Suitable for roasting, bottling or simply eating fresh from the plant whilst working in the garden.
- Standard round tomatoes - About 5cm in diameter, these are what most people picture as a “normal” tomato. Classic, juicy tomatoes perfect for snacks, salads and cooking.
- Plum tomatoes - Oval shaped, firm fleshed, with few seeds and so perfect for sauces and soups. Often used in Italian tinned tomatoes.
- Beefsteak tomatoes - The big daddies of the tomato world! Perfect for grilling, stuffing or simply slicing for sandwiches.
What is the difference between cordon (vine) and bush tomatoes?
- Bush/Determinate varieties - These grow to about 2 to 3ft high and then put all their effort into ripening the fruit. Great when space is limited but they have a shorter fruiting period.
- Cordon/Indeterminate varieties - These vine varieties need to be supported by a cane and are grown as a single stemmed cordon. With the side shoots removed, these varieties will continue fruiting until the first frosts. However, their growth habit usually needs more room than bush varieties.
Can I buy disease-resistant tomatoes?
Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding crops to grow but it can be disheartening when your well-tended plants are hit by disease and your fruits lost. Some problems can be avoided, for example blossom-end rot is common and usually a result of erratic watering, but airborne diseases such as blight are harder to deal with.
Many tomatoes come with different levels of disease resistance. Find our carefully selected disease-resistant vegetable plants here. Once you’ve decided which tomatoes to grow you can then decide whether you want to grow from tomato seeds, plug plants or potted plants.
Grafted vegetable plants are an excellent option. Not only are they chosen for their ability to resist disease, they often produce up to 75% more fruits than standard plants!
What is the best way to store fresh tomatoes?
Tomatoes are best stored at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Some people swear by keeping them in a paper bag, others just pop them in a bowl, the key thing is to keep them cool, but without putting them in the fridge.
Home-grown tomatoes will keep for about 5 days after picking but will then start to go downhill. If you have a glut, consider other ways to preserve your precious crop.
Can you freeze tomatoes?
Yes, the easiest way to store tomatoes is to freeze them whole. Simply place them on a tray and freeze, then seal them together in a bag and pop back in the freezer. Ready for stews, soups and sauces. Peel, chop or slice them prior to freezing if you prefer.
How to sun dry tomatoes
If the weather is good enough, then you might like to have a go at sun-drying your tomatoes. Bear in mind that it will take quite some time to achieve the dry, leathery feel that is needed. In a not-so-good summer, you can always gently dry your crop in the oven.
Before drying, cut your tomatoes in half and use a small knife or teaspoon to remove the flesh and seeds. If using an oven, drizzle olive oil on a couple of baking trays and place the tomatoes cut side up. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt and sugar to taste. Bake in a warm oven for about 45 minutes, cool and store in sterilised jars topped up with olive oil.
What to do with green tomatoes
Once autumn has arrived and the temperature has dropped, any green tomatoes left on the plant will remain green. You can cut the vine and hang it in a dark place to encourage the tomatoes to ripen, or you can turn them into delicious chutney to enjoy with cheese.