Trial of New Tomato Varieties

Tomato Trial

I love growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  We’ve all got our favourite heritage tomatoes, but have you tried any new tomato varieties?  Last year, I grew lots of new tomato varieties, as part of my quest to discover the most delicious and productive tomato cultivars available to gardeners!

The objectives of this Tomato Trial were to identify delicious, productive, disease resistant tomato varieties, and to discover whether any of the trialled tomato cultivars perform differently when planted in the ground or grown in a container.  Two types of container were used to grow the tomatoes for this Tomato Trial – as another objective of this Tomato Trial was to compare the performance of the tomato plants that were grown in the two different container types that featured in this Tomato Trial.

My Tomato Trial began on the 10th March 2018, when seeds of 16 tomato varieties were sown in seed trays, filled with Dalefoot Composts Seed Compost.  All of the seeds were grown inside my Access Garden Products Exbury Classic Growhouse.

Tomato Varieties

During this Tomato Trial, I trialled the following tomato varieties, all of which were produced by Burpee Seeds.  Burpee Seeds very kindly sent me the following seeds to grow for my trial:

  • Tomato ‘Big Daddy’
  • Tomato ‘Cherry Baby’
  • Tomato ‘Cocktail Crush’
  • Tomato ‘Consuelo’
  • Tomato ‘Crimson Crush’
  • Tomato ‘Green Envy’
  • Tomato ‘Honeycomb’
  • Tomato ‘Nagina’ (also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’) (15029)
  • Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’
  • Tomato ‘Orange Wellington’
  • Tomato ‘Patio Plum’
  • Tomato ‘Shimmer’
  • Tomato ‘Summer Frolic’
  • Tomato ‘Super Mama’
  • Tomato 14096
  • Tomato 14091

Tomato ‘Big Daddy’

Tomato ‘Big Daddy’ produces large beefsteak tomatoes that are good for slicing; one slice fills a sandwich! This Tomato ‘Big Daddy’ plant was grown directly in the soil, for my Tomato Trial. Pictured on the 15th August 2018.

Tomato ‘Big Daddy’ was bred by Dr. Paul Thomas, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Cherry Baby’

Tomato ‘Cherry Baby’ produces cherry tomatoes! This photograph was taken on the 9th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Cherry Baby’ was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Cocktail Crush’

Tomato ‘Cocktail Crush’ plants produce medium sized, salad tomatoes. This Tomato ‘Cocktail Crush’ plant was grown for my Tomato Trial. This photograph was taken on the 8th September 2018.

Tomato ‘Cocktail Crush’ was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Consuelo’

‘Consuelo’ tomato plants produce large cherry tomatoes. This Tomato ‘Consuelo’ plant was grown directly in the soil in my Trials bed, for my Tomato Trial. This photograph was taken on the 2nd September 2018.

Tomato ‘Consuelo’ was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Crimson Crush’

‘Crimson Crush’ tomato plants produce large salad tomatoes. These ‘Crimson Crush’ tomatoes are pictured on the 2nd September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Crimson Crush’ was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Green Envy’

‘Green Envy’ tomato plants produce green coloured, cocktail tomatoes, these plum tomatoes are the size of large cherry tomatoes. These tomato ‘Green Envy’ fruits are pictured on the 15th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Green Envy’ was bred by Henk van der Velde, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Honeycomb’

‘Honeycomb’ tomato plants produce small cherry tomatoes. These ‘Honeycomb’ tomatoes are pictured on the 15th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Honeycomb’ was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’

‘Oh Happy Day’ tomato plants produce large, salad tomatoes. This Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ plant is pictured on the 19th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Nagina’ (also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’)

Tomato ‘Nagina’ plants produce large, ‘Roma’ or plum tomatoes. I took this photograph on the 8th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Nagina’ (15029) (also known as ‘Crimson Plum’) was bred by Simon Crawford, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Orange Wellington’

‘Orange Wellington’ tomatoes produce huge beefsteak tomatoes, which are ideal for slicing in sandwiches – one slice fills a sandwich! Tomato ‘Orange Wellington’ fruits, pictured on the 8th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Orange Wellington’ was bred by Dr. Paul Thomas, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Patio Plum’

‘Patio Plum’ produces plum shaped, cherry tomatoes, which ripen to red. These Tomato ‘Patio Plum’ fruit are pictured on the 11th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Patio Plum’ was bred by Jim and Eve Reeve, from Chesterfield.

Tomato ‘Shimmer’

‘Shimmer’ tomato plants produce small plum, cocktail-type, cherry tomatoes. Tomato ‘Shimmer’ pictured on the 15th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Shimmer’ was bred by Henk van der Velde, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Summer Frolic’

‘Summer Frolic’ tomato plants produced large to medium sized salad tomatoes. Tomato ‘Summer Frolic’ pictured on the 19th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Summer Frolic’ was bred by Dr. Paul Thomas, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato ‘Super Mama’

‘Super Mama’ tomato plants produce large ‘Roma’ or, plum tomatoes. Tomato ‘Super Mama’ pictured on the 14th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato ‘Super Mama’ was bred by Dr. Paul Thomas, from Burpee Seeds.

Tomato 14096

Tomato’ 14096 is an unnamed tomato cultivar.  14096 tomato plants produce cocktail tomatoes – large cherry tomatoes. Tomato 14096 pictured on the 9th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomato 14091

Tomato 14091 is an unnamed tomato cultivar.  14091 tomato plants produce cocktail cherry tomatoes – large cherry tomatoes. Tomato 14091 pictured on the 2nd September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Compost for Tomatoes

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Seeds

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Seeds.

All of the tomato seeds that were grown for this Tomato Trial were grown in composts produced by Dalefoot Composts.   Dalefoot Composts produced the composts that have so far been the top performers in of all of my Compost Trials to date; so Dalefoot were naturally my number one choice of compost brand to use for this Tomato Trial.

All of Dalefoot Composts’ products are peat-free and organic, these premium, nutrient rich composts are made from natural materials, including sheep’s wool and bracken.  The company produce their composts on a pretty hill farm, in the Lake District.

When I began this Tomato Trial on the 10th March 2018, I sowed all of my tomato seeds in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Seeds.  This is a fine, blended organic compost, made from natural materials.  This growing medium provides seeds with a good start to life.

Tomato seedlings with their seed leaves, as pictured on the 1st April 2018, inside my glasshouse, during my Tomato Trial.

Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost

Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost is a premium peat free potting compost comprised from natural materials including bracken and sheep wool.

The first leaves a seed sown plant produces are their cotyledons, their embryonic leaves, these leaves are simple and ovate.  The true leaves are the second leaves to be produced, these are the first leaves to display the familiar tomato leaf shape.  The true tomato leaves resemble the leaf form produced by mature plants.  When my tomato plants had developed their true leaves, the tomato plants were ready to be potted on for the first time.

This time, my tomato plants were all potted on into individual plastic containers, which were all filled with Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost.  Every tomato plant was grown in the same sized container.  The plants were all potted on at the same time, using the exact same materials, at every stage of this Tomato Trial.

Tomato seedlings pictured on the 13th April 2018, inside my glasshouse, during my Tomato Trial.

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads.

After being grown in Dalefoot Wool Potting Compost for a little while, my tomato plants were potted on.  This time, the tomato plants were potted on into individual plastic pots, which were filled with Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads.

I prefer to pot my plants on regularly, moving my plants up into a new container that’s one or two sizes larger, at each potting on.  So, the tomato plants that were grown for this trial were potted on into Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads a number of times during this Tomato Trial.

While the trialled tomato plants were grown in my glasshouse, all of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were potted on at the same time, into the same sized containers, using the exact same composts.

Tomato seedlings pictured on the 7th May 2018, inside my glasshouse, during my Tomato Trial.

Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Wool Compost

Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Wool Compost.

In early June, once the weather had warmed up and the danger of night time frosts had passed, all of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were planted outside.

My tomato plants that were grown directly, were planted in the soil in my Trials beds, these plants were mulched with a layer of Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Wool Compost.

While, the tomato plants that were grown in containers were grown in a mix of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads and Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Wool Compost.

Growing Tomatoes in Glasshouses

Tomato seedlings with their seed leaves, as pictured on the 1st April 2018, inside my glasshouse, during my Tomato Trial.

I grew all of the tomato plants for this Tomato Trial from seeds, which were kindly provided by Burpee Seeds.

I sowed all of the tomato seeds in exactly the same manner, in seed trays filled with Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Seeds.

All of my tomato seeds were grown inside my Access Garden Products Exbury Classic Growhouse.

A Tomato ‘Patio Plum’ seedling pictured on the 13th April 2018, inside my glasshouse, during my Tomato Trial.

Heating the Glasshouse

During March and early spring, the temperature range in an unheated glasshouse, in the UK, is often lower than the optimum temperature range required for the successful germination of tomato seeds.  To achieve the warmer temperatures required for germination and to raise the tomato plants successfully inside my glasshouse, from March until June – when the tomato plants were moved outside, I used a low energy tubular heater and an oil filled electric heater to increase the temperature inside my glasshouse.  These are not special greenhouse heaters – far from it – they are heaters that I usually use inside my home.  I endured a rather chilly spring indoors, to heat my Access Garden Products glasshouse, to run this Tomato Trial in 2018!

This chart shows the minimum, maximum, and average temperature within the glasshouse from the time when the tomato seeds were sown, until the tomato plants were planted outside. You can see the reduction in temperature during the snowy period in April, despite the glasshouse being actively heated.
This chart shows the minimum and average humidity within the glasshouse from the time when the tomato seeds were sown in March, until the plants were moved outside in June.

Planting Tomatoes Outdoors

Hardening off Tomato Plants

All of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were raised and grown inside my Access Garden Products Exbury Classic Growhouse from March until June.  In my area, the risk of frost harming my plants has passed by June, when the outdoor temperatures are warm enough for tomato plants to be grown outside.

Prior to moving the tomato plants out of my glasshouse, the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were gradually hardened off.  Over a few consecutive weeks from the middle of May, the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were moved out of the glasshouse during the daytime, and then brought back in under cover, inside the glasshouse at night.  This process gradually acclimatises the plants to their new conditions outdoors, enabling a successful, smooth transition, without any unnecessary shock to the plants.

Tomato Growing Methods

All of the tomato varieties and tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were started off from seeds, which were all sown at the same time and grown in exactly the same manner, using the same composts, the same seed trays and containers.

The plants were all raised and grown inside my Access Garden Products Exbury Classic Growhouse from March until June, while the outdoor temperatures were too cold to grow tomatoes outside.

After being hardened off, in June, all of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were moved and planted outside on the same day.

For this Tomato Trial, as well as trialling different tomato varieties, I have also trialled different growing methods.  Namely, growing the tomato plants in two different types of container, as well as comparing the performance of the same tomato plants which were grown directly in the soil, at the same location.

Apart from Tomato ‘Patio Plum’, (three ‘Patio Plum’ plants were grown in the ground, but I ran out of containers, so I did not trial any Tomato ‘Patio Plum’ plants in any containers) for every tomato variety trialled:

  • Three plants of every trialled tomato variety were grown in the ground.
  • Two plants of every trialled tomato variety were grown individually, planted in Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters.
  • One plant of every trialled tomato variety was grown in a plastic container.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

A tomato side shoot being removed.

All of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial are cordon or indeterminate tomato varieties, apart from Tomato ‘Patio Plum’, which is a determinate, or bush tomato type.

Indeterminate plants feature one main stem.  The tomato plants’ side shoots are removed regularly, to create productive plants.  To maintain the indeterminate tomatoes’ form, the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial, had their side shoots removed on a regular basis.

A tomato side shoot, pictured on the 9th June 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Determinate Tomatoes

Tomato ‘Patio Plum’ is a dwarf determinate or bush variety. Pictured on the 28th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Determinate tomatoes are also called bush tomatoes, these tomato varieties tend to form smaller plants.  They also need less maintenance and care, as the plants don’t tend to grow as tall and they don’t need their side shoots removed.  ‘Patio Plum’ was the only determinate tomato variety grown for this Tomato Trial.  This variety forms a very dwarf plant, which doesn’t need any pruning or support.

Growing Tomatoes in the Ground

A tomato plant supported by a length of twine and a bamboo cane, as pictured on the 2nd July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

The tomatoes that were planted directly in the soil, in my Trials area, for this Tomato Trial, were planted in rows of three.  Each tomato plant was initially supported by a bamboo cane, but was also grown up a length of twine, which was tied to a frame above; the twine supported the tomato plant as it grew.  This is a method that I would recommend for growing tomatoes, as it’s both easy and effective.

However during this Tomato Trial, the twine that I used to support my tomato plants was not as strong or lasting as I had expected.  Sadly, a number of the lengths of twine that were supporting my tomato plants during this Tomato Trial snapped spontaneously, leaving my tomato plants collapsed in a heap and requiring urgent attention.  This was both time consuming and frustrating!  My advice would be to use a good quality, strong twine, should you wish to grow tomato plants in a similar manner yourself.

I shall be testing garden twines in 2019, I will report my findings and let you know my recommendations in due course.  (Here’s a link to my Twine Trial.)

Tomato plants, pictured on the 15th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

The Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters that I used for this Tomato Trial are known as Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters, these containers have been specially designed to grow tomatoes and potatoes.  Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters measure 35cm (13.7″) in diameter, and 45cm (17.7″) in height; these planters have a capacity of 40L.  Here’s a link to an article I’ve written about Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters.  Here’s a link to more information about Vigoroot Planters, on Haxnicks’ website.

This Tomato ‘Nagina’ plant is growing in a Haxnicks Vigoroot planter. I took this photograph on the 25th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Plastic Containers

The plastic containers that I used in this Tomato Trial are the same plastic containers that I have used in my other published Outdoor Trials.  They’re all the same size.  These plastic pots measure 40cm (15.7″) in diameter and 33cm (12.9″) in height.

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

The tomato plants that were grown in plastic containers and in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters were not as easy to support as the plants that were growing directly in the soil.  During this Tomato Trial, all of the container grown tomato plants were supported with bamboo canes and twine.

Of the two container types, the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters, with their naturally floppy habit were far more difficult to manage.  I feel that a specially designed frame or support system would be very beneficial for gardeners wishing to use a number of Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters, an effective support could be simple to design and build and would be well worth the effort.

Tomato Fertiliser

During this Tomato Trial, I used only Dalefoot Composts, I did not use any other fertiliser or feed during any stage of this Tomato Trial.

From March to June the plants were all grown in the same containers, using the same composts (first Dalefoot Wool Compost for seeds, then Dalefoot Wool Potting Compost, and then Dalefoot Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads).

From June onwards, the container grown tomato plants received all of their nutrients from the Dalefoot Composts they were grown in (Dalefoot Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads and Dalefoot Wool Double Strength Compost).

While from June onwards, the tomato plants that were planted directly in the soil in my Trials Beds, received all of their nutrients from the soil in my Trials area, and from the mulch of Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Compost, which was applied over the soil in this area in June.

Irrigation

My outside water pipe burst during the cold, snowy period that froze the UK, at the end of March 2018.  This was bad timing for my Tomato Trial, as we endured a very late, cold winter, which arrived at a time when we were expecting warmer spring weather.  We then missed spring altogether, and instead surged headlong into the hottest, driest summer that I’ve ever experienced!

I usually use watering systems to water my plants, but these are redundant without a working water pipe – my Glasshouse has its own watering system, but I was unable to use it while the water pipe was broken.  My wonderful plumber is always very busy, but he was about to embark on a holiday when my pipe burst and was very booked up, so consequently he wasn’t able to fix my water pipe before June.

During this time, my tomato plants had to be watered by hand.  As this is a trial, it’s important to give the exact same amount of water to all of the plants that are trialled.  So it was all or nothing, the plants all received the same amount of water, or they all received nothing!

Dalefoot Composts

While my water pipe was broken, the UK basked in the warmth of the sun for what seemed like an eternity!  I was hot, but my tomato plants were even hotter as they grew in their containers inside my Glasshouse.  During this heatwave, I was away from home for a week, so none of my tomato plants were watered during this week.  Remarkably, when I returned home, my tomato plants (each potted up individually in very small plastic pots) were all still alive!

This good fortune was purely down to the compost I used – Dalefoot Composts are formulated from natural ingredients, including sheep’s wool, which is incredibly water retentive, allowing this range of composts to hold on to more water than any of the other composts I have trialled.  Had I used any of my other trialled composts for this Tomato Trial I am certain that I would not have been so fortunate and my plants would have died whilst I was away.  I am so grateful that all of my tomato plants survived!

Automated Watering Systems

The relief I felt when my water pipe was fixed was short lived, as my outside watering systems then both broke, first one then the other!  There was not one point, after the tomato plants were moved outside, where it was easy to water all of my tomato plants – if anyone can recommend a good quality and effective watering system for plants grown directly in the soil and another watering system for plants grown in containers, please do let me know!

My watering systems have only lasted for a couple of years.  Every year, I receive a large number of questions from readers, asking about watering systems – readers please rest assured that once I find a watering system that is lasting and effective, I will write about it!

Heatwave

As a result of my problems with my outside pipe and then my broken watering systems, there were very few occasions where my tomato plants received sufficient water.  The summer of 2018 was intense – it was both hot and dry – so my plants did not receive as much water in rainfall as they would have been blessed with during a more typical British summer!

Tomato Plants Wilting

On many occasions during this trial, I noticed that the leaves of the tomato plants that were growing in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters were visibly wilting.  In comparison – at the same time – I noted that the leaves of the tomato plants that were growing in the plastic containers and in the Trials bed were not showing any signs of undue stress.

Undoubtedly, the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were greatly aided, if not saved from reaching their permanent wilting point: ie death, by the water retentive Dalefoot Composts that they were grown in.

The tomato plants that were grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters would have benefitted from being watered more often that the same plants grown in the plastic pots.  The tomato plants that were grown in the plastic containers did not need watering as often as the plants that were grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters.

Haxnicks advise their customers that plants grown in their Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters will require more water than plants grown in regular containers.  However, as this was a trial, it is important to keep the growing conditions consistent and so all of the plants – the plants grown in both types of container and the plants grown directly in the soil – all received the same quantity of water.

This ‘Big Daddy’ tomato plant was grown in my Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters. Pictured on the 27th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This ‘Oh Happy Day’ tomato plant was grown in my Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters. Pictured on the 27th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This ‘Oh Happy Day’ tomato plant was grown in my Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters. Pictured on the 27th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This ‘14096’ tomato plant was grown in my Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters. Pictured on the 27th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This ‘Big Daddy’ tomato plant was grown in my Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters. Pictured on the 27th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This ‘Summer Frolic’ tomato plant was grown in my plastic containers. Pictured on the 27th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Weather, Humidity, and Temperature

This graph shows the average min and max temp over the period in which the trialled tomatoes were grown outdoors. You can see the minimum temperature tails off in mid-September, which prompted me to harvest the tomatoes that hadn’t ripened at that point before the frosts arrived.
This chart shows the minimum and maximum average humidity levels outdoors, these readings were taken while the trialled tomato plants grew outside.

Bees and other Pollinating Insects

The flowers of all of the tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial were popular with bees and other pollinating insects.  I didn’t notice any particular tomato varieties being any more or less popular than others during this Tomato Trial.

A bee pollinating one of the tomato plants grown for my Tomato Trial, pictured on the 11th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
I spotted this bee pollinating the flowers on this Tomato ‘Consuelo’ plant during my Tomato Trial. This photograph was taken on the 8th September 2018.

Tomato Pests, Diseases, and Problems

There are a great many pests, diseases, problems, and conditions that can affect tomatoes!  Let me start by first saying that none of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial succumbed to Blight.  However, the following potential problems were experienced during this particular Tomato Trial:

Aphids

A tomato side shoot, pictured on the 9th June 2018, during my Tomato Trial, but can you spot the aphid?

I spotted a few aphids every now and then, on the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial, but there was never a large infestation or outbreak of aphids.  Aphid predators, including birds, ladybirds, lacewings, and spiders, were regularly seen on and around the tomato plants, during the course of this Tomato Trial.

Can you spot the lacewing on these ‘Big Daddy’ tomatoes? Pictured on the 15th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Slugs and Snails

I don’t usually provide any of my trialled plants with any protection against slugs and snails.  However, I lost a number of my 2018 Trials to the extreme weather we experienced last year, so to guarantee that my tomato plants survived to produce a harvest and to ensure this Tomato Trial’s success, each tomato plant received one, very light dusting of wood ash, which was scattered around the plant at planting time, to protect my plants from slugs and snails.

For more natural and effective ideas of how to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

The tomato plants each received a very light dusting of wood ash around them to help control slugs and snails. I also used nematodes to control slugs and snails.

Nematodes

As well as applying a single, light dusting of wood ash at planting time, to further protect my tomato plants from slugs and snails, I used nematodes – the natural predator of slugs and snails.  I applied the nematodes to all of the containers, and to the soil in my Trials area, on the 14th July 2018.  If you’re interested, you can see how my nematodes were applied and find out more about how this biological control works, in this article – here.

Before you apply your Nemaslug® Biological Slug Killer treatment, it’s essential to thoroughly water the area of soil or compost that will be treated.  Irrigating the growing media prior to treatment will allow your application to have the best effect, as the nematodes will be more able to travel through the soil to make contact with any slugs or snails within the soil or compost.
Cornu aspersum, also known as the garden snail, pictured on one of the plastic containers used for my Tomato Trial.

If I saw a slug or a snail during this Tomato Trial, I left it where it was.  I did not attempt to remove any of the mollusks I found.

A slug feasting on tomatoes grown for my Tomato Trial!

None of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial were entirely consumed by slugs and snails.  The plants themselves were successfully protected by the treatments I provided, so consequently every plant survived for the whole of this Tomato Trial.  However, the slugs and snails did manage to devour 13 of the tomato fruits that were grown for this Tomato Trial!

Most Popular Tomato Varieties for Slugs and Snails

During this Tomato Trial, I noticed that ‘Crimson Crush’ tomatoes were the most popular tomato variety with the slugs and snails that reside in my Trials area.  Five ‘Crimson Crush’ tomato fruit were utterly destroyed by slugs and snails during this particular trial!

‘Orange Wellington’ and ‘Shimmer’ were the second most popular tomato varieties with the slugs and snails in my trials area – with three fruits apiece devoured by the mollusks in my trials area.

Slugs and snails also dined out on two ‘Super Mama’ tomatoes, during this Tomato Trial.

A slug or snail damaged ‘Super Mama’ tomato pictured on the 19th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This chart shows the number of tomato fruits that were damaged by slugs, snails, and blossom end rot, during my Tomato Trial.

Woodlice

Woodlice, also known by their scientific name Oniscidea, feed on dead and decaying plant matter, but they can also on feast on strawberries and other cultivated plants.

Woodlice were seen on the fallen fruits that were already being consumed by mollusks, during my Tomato Trial.  I didn’t ever see any woodlice eating a new or undamaged tomato; it was only the fallen fruit, which were already being heartily devoured by the slugs and snails, when I also spotted a number of woodlice feasting on the decaying tomato remains.

Blossom End Rot

‘Green Envy’ tomatoes affected by blossom end rot. Pictured on the 28th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Blossom End Rot is not strictly speaking a rot – it’s a physiological disorder, related to calcium deficiency.  Calcium is not very mobile in plants, so tomato plants are very much relying on the calcium they take in through the available moisture in the soil.  Therefore if your tomato plants are growing in containers and the compost around your plants’ roots is dry, (as was the case many times during this Tomato Trial) then your plants may be unable to deliver sufficient calcium to satisfy the fast expanding cells at the blossom end – the tip of your tomato plant’s fruit.  As a consequence, the tips and base of a tomato affected by Blossom End Rot appear a pale beige or brown colour at first, but as the tomato develops, these areas darken in colour.  The affected areas can appear somewhat shrivelled or sunken.

Blossom End Rot is most likely to occur when tomato plants receive irregular irrigation, when plants receive high nitrogen based fertilisers, and when the relative humidity level is high during the daytime and low at night.

Watering tomato plants during the evening may help to decrease the occurrence of Blossom End Rot.  Regular watering is important if you want to avoid your tomato plants being affected by Blossom End Rot.  This is especially important for container grown plants, which tend to require more watering than plants grown directly in the soil.

I find that large fruited tomatoes tend to be more susceptible to Blossom End Rot than cherry tomato types.

A ‘Green Envy’ tomato affected by blossom end rot. Pictured on the 28th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
A ‘Big Daddy’ tomato affected by blossom end rot. Pictured on the 28th July 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
A tomato affected by blossom end rot. Pictured on the 5th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

The tomatoes with blossom end rot were counted, but not weighed or included in the harvest for this Tomato Trial.  The harvest shown for each tomato variety is the weight of edible fruit without blossom end rot or slug and snail damage.

This chart shows the number of tomatoes that succumbed to blossom end rot during my Tomato Trial, broken down by variety and growing method.  You can see that Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ produced the most tomatoes with blossom end rot during this Tomato Trial.

Tomato Skins Splitting

The skin of this ‘Cherry Baby’ tomato has split. Pictured on the 8th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Tomatoes differ in their texture and taste, but also in their firmness and how thick or thin a tomato variety’s skin is.  I often think of cherry tomatoes as having a thinner skin, but it varies from one tomato variety to another.  A thin tomato skin is not necessarily a disadvantage, it may make the texture of the tomato more pleasing as it’s eaten, as the skin may just dissolve in your mouth, rather than being left behind – as can happen with tomatoes that are encased in tougher skins.

Tomato varieties that produce fruit with a thinner skin are at risk of splitting, but tomato plants that are watered irregularly are at an increased risk of splitting.  This was the case during my Tomato Trial, when my outside tap and then my watering systems broke, one after the other, so my plants were watered irregularly.

If you grow a tomato variety that is prone to producing tomatoes with split skins, it’s important to check your plants regularly, as ripe fruit won’t keep if it is damaged.  A split tomato skin, or any kind of damage on the fruits provides an open invitation to pathogens.

To reduce the possibility of your tomato plants producing split tomatoes, I would advise you to water your plants regularly – if a plant goes from being too dry and thirsty, to suddenly receiving a large quantity of water, the fruits will naturally swell and the risk of the fruit splitting is greatly exacerbated.  Tomato fruit that are split need to be consumed promptly, I find that these tomatoes are a rather lovely reward for gardeners while they work!

Some of these Tomato ‘Honeycomb’ fruits have split. This photograph was taken on the 2nd September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
A closer look at a mouldy Tomato ‘Green Envy’ fruit, pictured on the 19th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This table shows the number of tomatoes which exhibited splits when harvested. The number of splits for some varieties is very high – part of which is due to the challenges of keeping watering consistent during such a hot summer. The cherry and cocktail tomato varieties were more prone to splitting, whereas the plum varieties and beefsteak/slicing tomatoes were far less prone to splits.
This chart shows the number of tomatoes harvested during my Tomato Trial with fruits that had split skins. This chart shows the tomatoes broken down by their variety – so you can see that Tomato ‘Honeycomb’ produced lots of fruits with split skins, whereas Tomato ‘Super Mama’ produced far fewer tomatoes with split skins, during my Tomato Trial.
This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes (fruit that had spit or was damaged by slugs and snails), produced by the tomato plants grown in each of the three growing methods that were used for this Tomato Trial.

Best Tasting Tomato Varieties

We each favour different flavours, so taste is subjective.  The taste of tomatoes can also be influenced by the weather, the temperature, the amount of water and nutrients the plants receive, and the light and growing conditions the plants experience.

Naturally, tomato varieties vary greatly in their taste, flavour, and texture.  The tomato variety itself has the greatest influence on the taste of the plant’s harvested tomato fruit.

I’ve described the character of my favourite tasting tomato varieties from this Tomato Trial below.  I hope this Tomato Trial helps you to discover a new favourite tomato!  These tomato varieties were particularly delicious:

Tomato ‘Honeycomb’

‘Honeycomb’ tomatoes are exceptionally sweet, with a delicious fruity flavour!  These ‘Honeycomb’ tomatoes are pictured on the 19th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

At every tasting, ‘Honeycomb’ tomatoes were my favourite tasting tomatoes out of all the tomatoes in this Tomato Trial!  ‘Honeycomb’ is a cherry tomato with an intense flavour, it’s so sweet, with a great balance of acidity.  ‘Honeycomb’ tomatoes are full of flavour, they are surprisingly sweet but deliciously tangy, with a really fruity flavour!  This is a juicy little tomato, the fruits have a paper-thin skin, which dissolves in your mouth.

Tomato ‘Shimmer’

‘Shimmer’ tomatoes have a silky texture and a sweet flavour, without any acidity. Tomato ‘Shimmer’ pictured on the 19th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

‘Shimmer’ tomatoes are juicy, with a rather lovely, silky texture.  I enjoyed this tomato’s gentle, but sweet taste and faint floral perfume.  This tomato is sweet tasting, but not at all acidic, so if you favour less acidic tomatoes, then I am sure that ‘Shimmer’ will be a tomato variety that you’ll savour!

Tomato ‘Consuelo’

‘Consuelo’ tomatoes are juicy, crunchy, and tasty! This Tomato ‘Consuelo’ plant was grown in a Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planter for my Tomato Trial. This photograph was taken on the 8th September 2018.

‘Consuelo’ is sweet tasting tomato, with a greater degree of acidity.  This tomato has a sweet, but earthy flavour, with a distinct tang and a hint of pepperiness.  ‘Consuelo’ tomatoes have a firm outer and a soft textured, juicy centre.  These plump tomatoes make a satisfying crunch as you bite into the fruit!

Tomato ‘Cherry Baby’

‘Cherry Baby’ tomatoes are sweet and tangy. This Tomato ‘Cherry Baby’ plant was grown directly in the soil, for my Tomato Trial. Pictured on the 14th September 2018.

I found that the ‘Cherry Baby’ tomatoes that were grown for this Tomato Trial improved in flavour, the longer they were on the plant.  The tomatoes that ripened later in autumn were far more flavourful that those harvested earlier in the season.

‘Cherry Baby’ tomatoes are sweet and slightly tangy, these cherry tomatoes have a good balance of flavour, without being too acidic.  If you plan to grow this variety, do ensure that you allow your tomato fruits to ripen fully, to enjoy ‘Cherry Baby’ tomatoes with a fully developed flavour.

Tomato ‘Orange Wellington’

‘Orange Wellington’ is a great tasting beefsteak tomato! These tomato ‘Orange Wellington’ fruits are pictured on the 15th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

‘Orange Wellington’ is a beefsteak tomato; I really enjoyed eating this tomato!  ‘Orange Wellington’ tomatoes have a very mild but delicious flavour, they’re slightly tangy, without any acidity.  This meaty tomato’s flesh is so succulent and soft in texture, it melts in your mouth.  Sometimes, I found that ‘Orange Wellington tomatoes were more floury in texture and on occasions the fruits were a little sugary, which I enjoyed.  The flavour of ‘Orange Wellington’ tomatoes was consistently good.  This is a juicy tomato, it’s good for eating on its own, ideal to slice for sandwiches or salads, and it’s great for cooking too!

Tomato Trial Results

Best Tomato Growing Methods

This chart shows the average weight (in kilos) of the tomatoes harvested (excluding fruit with blossom end rot or slug damage) per plant, for all of the different tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial, from the three different growing environments that were tested during my Tomato Trial: tomatoes planted directly in the soil, tomatoes grown in plastic pots, and tomatoes grown in Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters.

The most productive growing method for almost all of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial was to grow the plants directly in the soil, in my Trials Bed.  There was an exception though, ‘Big Daddy’ tomato plants were fractionally more productive when they were grown in a plastic container, but it was a close call!

This chart shows the average yield produced per trialled tomato plant, broken down by the tomato variety and the plant’s growing location. (I have highlighted the figures of the best yield produced by the container grown plants in blue. I’ve listed the best overall harvest for every trialled tomato variety in red text.) The best yield overall (shown in red bold text) was generally produced by the tomato plants grown in the trials bed, although there were some exceptions – Orange Wellington produced a much larger harvest in the Haxnicks pots, and Big Daddy produced the greatest yield-per-plant in the Plastic Pot.  Of the container grown plants, Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters tended to produce more productive plants, although the larger ‘Big Daddy’ and plum tomato ‘15029’ (Nagina) plants performed well in the plastic pots.
This table shows the comparative harvest of the different planting locations. The average harvest per plant shows a big difference between the locations, with the trials bed producing nearly twice as large a harvest as both types of container.

Growing Tomatoes in the Ground

Apart from ‘Orange Wellington’ and ‘Big Daddy’ tomatoes, the tomato plants that were planted directly in the soil for this Tomato Trial produced a greater harvest than the tomatoes grown in both the plastic containers and the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters.

Container Grown Tomatoes

Apart from ‘Big Daddy’, Summer Frolic’, and Tomato ‘Nagina’, of the container grown plants, the tomato plants that were grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters produced a greater harvest than the tomato plants that were grown in the plastic containers.

‘Patio Plum’ was the only trialled tomato variety not to be trialled in containers – this variety was just grown directly in the soil, in the trials bed, as I ran out of containers.

Tomatoes grown in 40cm diameter plastic containers

‘Big Daddy’, ‘Summer Frolic’, and ‘Nagina’ plants produced a greater harvest of tomatoes when grown in the plastic containers than plants of these tomato varieties produced in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters.

Tomatoes grown in Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

‘Shimmer’, ‘Cocktail Crush’, ‘Crimson Crush’, 14096, 14091, ‘Orange Wellington’, ‘Super Mama’, ‘Oh Happy Day’, ‘Consuelo’, ‘Green Envy’, ‘Cherry Baby’, and ‘Honeycomb’, were all shown to be more productive when grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters than the plastic containers.

Best Performing Tomato Varieties

For these next six charts, I have divided up the Tomato Trial results, to compare the performance of tomato varieties that produce similarly sized tomatoes against each other.  I have also included the percentages of tomato fruit that were affected by blossom end rot and damaged by slugs and snails and the percentages of tomato fruits with split tomato skins, so you can more easily select and grow the tomato varieties with the best performance.

Most Productive Small Cherry Tomatoes

This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of damaged tomatoes, produced by the cherry tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial.
These Tomato ‘Consuelo’ fruits were grown for my Tomato Trial. This photograph was taken on the 14th September 2018.

Most Productive Large Cherry (Cocktail) Tomatoes

This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes, produced by the cocktail tomato (large cherry tomato) varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial.
‘Shimmer’ tomato plants produce small plum, cocktail-type, cherry tomatoes. In this photograph, Tomato ‘Shimmer’ is pictured on the 15th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Most Productive Cherry (Small and Large Cherry) Tomatoes

This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes, produced by the cherry and cocktail (small and large cherry tomato varieties) tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial.

Most Productive Salad or Slicing Tomatoes

This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes, produced by the regular, salad (medium sized tomato varieties) tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial.
Tomato ‘Summer Frolic’ pictured on the 2nd September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Most Productive Roma – Large Plum Tomatoes

This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes, produced by the two Roma – large plum tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial. (15029 = ‘Nagina’ – this tomato is also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’).
This Tomato ‘Nagina’ plant is pictured on the 8th September 2018, during my Tomato Trial.

Most Productive Beefsteak – large slicing Tomatoes

This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes, produced by the two beefsteak – large slicing tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial.
This ‘Big Daddy’ tomato was grown for my Tomato Trial. Pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Most Productive Tomato Varieties of all Tomatoes Trialled

Tomato ‘Nagina’ (also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’) is an incredibly productive tomato! These ‘Nagina’ tomato plants are pictured on the 15th August 2018, during my Tomato Trial.
This chart shows the weight of the tomatoes harvested per plant, during my Tomato Trial. You can see the total weight of tomatoes harvested for each tomato variety broken down for each growing method.
This chart shows the details of the tomato harvest gathered during my Tomato Trial, broken down by variety. You can see the total harvest of tomatoes for each variety, the number of tomatoes harvested, the average weight per tomato, the average harvest per plant and the total harvest for each tomato variety grown for this Tomato Trial. (15029 – ‘Nagina’, which is also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’).
This chart shows the comparative yield, including the percentages of any damaged tomatoes, produced by all of the tomato varieties that were grown for this Tomato Trial. (15029 = ‘Nagina’ – which is also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’).

Conclusions

  • The most productive tomato variety that was grown for this Tomato Trial was Tomato ‘Nagina’ (this variety is also sold as ‘Crimson Plum’, which produced an average of 3.59KG of tomatoes per plant when grown in the soil, an average of 3.04KG of tomatoes per plant when grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters, and an average of 0.98KG of tomatoes per plant, when grown in a plastic container.
  • ‘Patio Plum’ was the least productive tomato variety grown for this Tomato Trial, the three tomato plants that were grown in the Trials Bed for this Tomato Trial produced a combined harvest that weighed just 30g.
  • 1868 tomatoes were produced by the tomato plants that were grown in the Trials Bed during this Tomato Trial.
  • 998 tomatoes were produced by the container (plants grown in both plastic pots and Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters) grown plants.
  • The same number of plants were grown in containers as in the Trials Bed.  So, you can see that for the majority of the trialled tomato varieties, the most productive growing method was growing the tomato plants directly in the soil, during this Tomato Trial.
  • Of the two types of containers that featured in this Tomato Trial, the tomato plants grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato planters produced a higher yield and harvest than the tomato plants that were grown in the plastic containers, with the exception of ‘Big Daddy’, ‘Summer Frolic’, and ‘Nagina’ tomatoes, which produced a greater harvest when grown in a plastic pot.
  • The average harvest per plant was 1.82KG for the tomato plants grown in the Trials Bed, 1.10KG for the tomato plants grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters, and 0.84KG for the tomato plants grown in the plastic containers.
  • The heaviest tomato produced during this Tomato Trial was a ‘Big Daddy’ tomato weighing 477g.
  • The tomato plants that were grown in the plastic containers produced a greater number of fruits with blossom end rot – 17% of tomatoes produced by the plants grown in plastic pots had blossom end rot, compared to just 5% of the tomatoes produced by the plants that were grown in the Haxnicks Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters, and 2% of the tomatoes that were produced by the tomato plants grown directly in the soil.
  • None of the fruit grown by the tomato plants that were planted in the soil were damaged by slugs and snails, while 1% of the harvest from the tomato plants that were grown in containers were damaged by slugs and snails.
  • ‘Oh Happy Day’ tomato plants produced the greatest number of fruits suffering from blossom end root, with 31 affected tomatoes discarded.
  • ‘Crimson Crush’ tomatoes were the most popular tomatoes with the slugs and snails, 5 of this tomato variety’s fruits were destroyed by slugs and snails..
  • ‘Honeycomb’, ‘Consuelo’, and ‘Patio Plum’ tomatoes were not affected by blossom end rot, these tomatoes’ fruits also escaped damage from slugs and snails.
  • ‘Honeycomb’ and ‘Consuelo’ tomatoes produced a greater number of fruit with split skins, if you plan to grow these tomato varieties yourself, it’s important to water and check your plants regularly.  Remove and consume any ripe fruit with split skins, promptly, as damaged tomatoes do not keep.
  • The harvest of all of the tomato plants that were grown for this Tomato Trial would have been far greater had I not experienced so many problems with my water supply and watering systems.  Many of the tomato fruits that were grown for this Tomato Trial were discarded, as they suffered from blossom end rot.
This comical Tomato 14091 is pictured on the 25th July 2018; this tomato was grown during my Tomato Trial.

Further Trials

You may be interested in some of the other trials that I have conducted:

More Tomato Trials

To see all of my Tomato Trials, please click here.

Vegetable Trials

To see all of my Vegetable Trials, please click here.

Flower Trials

To see all my Flower Trials, please click here.

Compost Trial Reports

To see all of my Compost Trials, please click here.

To read advice on planting up containers, please click here.

Twine Trial

If you’re looking for a strong, lasting twine, to use to support your tomato plants or to support any other fruit or vegetables you’re growing, you might be interested to see the results of my Twine Trial, here’s a link.

Scented Daffodil Trial Reports

To see the results of my third Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my Scented Daffodil Container Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my first Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.

Slug and Snail Trials

To see the results of my Slug and Snail Trial and discover the best methods of protecting your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

To read about using nematodes to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

Sweet Pea Trial Reports

To read the results of my third Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my second Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my first Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

Terrarium, Vivarium, and Orchidarium Trials

To see how my Orchidarium was created, please click here.

To see the design of my Rainforest Terrarium, please click here.

To read the first part of my White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read the first part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To see a planting list of ferns, orchids, and other plants that are perfectly suited to growing inside terrariums and bottle gardens, please click here.

To read about the general care I give to my orchids and terrarium plants, and the general maintenance I give to my BiOrbAir terrariums, please click here.

To read how I track the temperature, humidity, and light conditions inside my terrariums, please click here.

Other articles that may interest you…………………..

For a list of snowdrop nurseries please click here.

To read tips and advice for growing Sweet Peas, please click here.

To read about growing mushrooms indoors, please click here.

For gardening advice, tips, and lovely ideas of what you could do in your garden, or at your allotment, in February, please click here.

For gardening advice, tips, and lovely ideas of what you could do in your garden, or at your allotment, from mid-February to mid-March, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

One thought on “Trial of New Tomato Varieties

  1. Haxnicks

    July 3, 2019 at 10:24am

    Hi Beth, Great trial – that’s a LOT of tomatoes!

    In respect of your comment about Haxnicks Vigoroot pots needing a support system I just wanted to let you know that we have launched a Support System for growing tomatoes called the Haxnicks Tomato Crop Booster. It is perfect for Vigoroot pots but will also work with all other pots, grow bags or over tomatoes in the ground. It is called the Tomato Crop Booster Frame and has adjustable clips that allow you to fully support the plant leading to bigger yields. It also has a plastic cover which can be bought separately to turn it into a mini greenhouse. Please let us know if you would like to include them in a trial in the future.

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