Allotment Associations & Horticultural Groups in Harrow, Middlesex


tomatotrials

Setting up
Blight
Update 20th June
Update 7th July
Fruit trusses 16th July
Update 4th August
Ripe Tomatoes
Update 3rd September
Taste tests
Update 16th September
Update and conclusions 5th October

Introduction

Each year we hope to trial several varieties of one vegetable or fruit, and this year we have decided to start by trialling tomatoes. It is hoped to have a taste test of the varieties grown at our Annual Show in August.

Although this trial is not large enough to have any scientific validity, we do hope that it will be of some interest to you in comparing the vigour, disease-resistance, yield and taste of several different tomato cultivars, grown in the local area.

Over the year we hope to have a series of articles on how the trials are progressing, and how solar power may be used in the allotment or garden.

We would like to hear your tips on how you grow tomatoes, what your favourite varieties are, and how you avoid blight on your plants. You can make comments and pass on your tips and recipes via our forum. If you use solar power in your home or garden, we would love to hear about that.

Veolia grassroots

 

Setting up the Trial

Having decided to carry out these tomato trials, the issue of regular watering was addressed by applying to Veolia Water for a grant to run a solar-powered automatic system. An article detailing the system will appear shortly.
A location was chosen for the trials bed which would allow sunlight for most of the day, and over two mornings some volunteers dug a long, narrow bed from the grass. The turf was piled up for composting, and to improve the soil some well-rotted horse manure and compost was dug into the bed, and piles of stones removed.
Because the bed is located some distance from the building where the rainwater is harvested, a long trench also had to be dug to bury the pipe carrying the water to irrigate the system.
It was decided to use 6 plants of each variety of tomatoes being trialled.

We are growing the following varieties and hope to use most of them in the trial.

Costoluto Fiorentino – a red, ribbed beef tomato
Chadwick’s Cherry – 1” indeterminate red fruit
Ferline – indeterminate, deep red, round, allegedly shows some blight resistance
Gardeners Delight – small, red, round fruit, indeterminate
Garden Pearl – bush, red cherry
Marmande – a red, semi-scalloped beef tomato
Moneymaker – red round semi-bush
Principe Borghese – an egg-shaped red vine tomato
Rio Grande – small red pear-shaped tomatoes
Roma – a meaty, red mid-sized oblong tomato
Tamina – a standard, mid-red tomato.

tomatoes

Regular updates and more details will appear on this page
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Blight

We all know what a problem tomato blight has become in recent years; in fact it seems almost impossible to grow a healthy crop on an allotment without spraying.

Bordeaux mixture is a copper-based fungicide used by organic growers. It is not recommended by Garden Organic because it has to be sprayed regularly as a preventative measure onto healthy plants before the disease has struck, and there are concerns about build-up of copper in the soil when used regularly on the same ground. It cannot cure the disease once it has taken hold.

One of our members has given us the following recipe to use for prevention and cure of blight;
1 head of garlic
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons of oil
4 hot peppers
1 lemon
Blitz everything in the blender. Stand overnight and strain through muslin. Dilute 4 tablespoons in 1 gallon of water. Drench the plants and then spray again the next day.

Half of the plants in our trial were sprayed on 11th July with Bordeaux and half with the garlic and chilli recipe, and we will continue to spray fortnightly over the season.

One of the varieties in the trial, Ferline, supposedly has some resistance to blight, and we will be comparing the health of these groups of plants, along with other allotment holder’s plants on the site, over the rest of the season.

The plants were sprayed again as above, on 25th July, 8th August, 22nd August and 8th September.
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Update 20th June 2010

The varieties named above were planted out on 29th May, and were being trained as cordons, ie side shoots were removed, apart from Garden Pearl, a bush variety which was allowed to grow naturally.
By 20th June good growth had been put on, and the plants were starting to show their characteristics.
All the plants were healthy and growing well.
Garden Pearl showed its bushy habit with many side branches producing flower clusters, and Moneymaker and Chadwicks Cherry being particularly tall and slim-stemmed with longer stems between leaves.
There were flowers on all varieties although not all the plants, with the most flowers on Moneymaker and Garden Pearl.
There was some fruit starting to form on Garden Pearl.
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Update 7th July 2010

All the plants were healthy and growing well

Ferline                 26” high,  flowers but no fruit formed
Tamina                26” high, flowers, fruit forming on one plant, large leaves, less lobed than other varieties
Gardeners Delight  28” high, 2-3 flowers, fruit forming on the lower trusses
Marmande             26” high, 2-3 flower trusses, ribbed fruit getting larger on bottom truss
Rio Grande            28” high, 2-3 flower trusses, small fruit on bottom truss
Moneymaker         30” high, 3 flower trusses, well developed fruit on bottom truss
Roma                     16” high, 1-2 flower trusses, plum shaped tomatoes on bottom truss, plants showing a very short
sturdy growth pattern, with thick short stems between leaves, and a tendency to bush
Chadwicks Cherry 34” high, 3-4 flower trusses, with fruit on the bottom one
Principe Borghese 30” high, 3 flower trusses, fruit on the bottom truss
Garden Pearl          12” high, bush, 8-9 flower trusses, with fruit forming on 5-6 trusses on each plant
Costoluto Fiorentino  28” high, 3-4 flower trusses, with fruit on the lower one.

The first 6 varieties above were sprayed with the garlic and chilli recipe, and the other 5 with Bordeaux mixture on 11th July.
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16th July 2010

Clockwise from top left -  fruit trusses growing on Gardeners Delight, Moneymaker, Roma, Garden Pearl.

gdnrs delight moneymaker
gardenpearl roma

The plants were sprayed again on 25th July as before
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Update 4th August 2010


Name

Height Inches

No of trusses Fruit/fl

Fruit per truss

Ripeness

Sprayed with

Health

Ferline 58 6 10   Garlic & Chilli Yellowing  lower leaves
Tamina 45 4 8-10   Garlic & Chilli Healthy
Gardeners Delight 50 5 20 Starting Garlic & Chilli Healthy
Marmande 30 4 5-7   Garlic & Chilli Blotching lower leaves
Rio Grande 36 5 6   Garlic & Chilli Blotches lower leaves
Money maker 48 5-6 12   Garlic & Chilli Healthy
Roma 18 3-4 6   Bordeaux Lots of blotchy leaves
Chadwicks Cherry 60 7 8   Bordeaux Healthy
Principe Borghese 45 6 6-8   Bordeaux Curled leaves
Garden Pearl 12 10 10-12 Lots ripe Bordeaux Healthy
Costoluto Fiorentino 36 5 6   Bordeaux Dry rolled leaves, dark blotches

The plants were sprayed again on 8th August, 22nd August and 8th September
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Ripe tomatoes

Chadwicks Cherry Cost Fiorentino Ferline G Delight
G pearl Marmande Moneymaker P Borghese
Rio Grande Roma Tamina From l-r, and top to bottom

Chadwicks Cherry, Costoluto Fiorentino, Ferline, Gardeners Delight, Garden Pearl, Marmande, Moneymaker, Principe Borghese, Rio Grande, Roma and Tamina

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Update 3rd September


Name Sprayed with Health Remarks
Ferline Garlic & Chilli 8 Good green, some blotches on lower leaves
Tamina Garlic & Chilli 7 Pale, blotchy leaves, stems slightly affected
Gardeners Delight Garlic & Chilli 6 Pale leaves, blighted, stems affected
Marmande Garlic & Chilli 5 Lots of blight on leaves, not on stems
Rio Grande Garlic & Chilli 6 Blighted leaves, not on stems
Moneymaker Garlic & Chilli 6 Blight on stems and leaves
Roma Bordeaux 7 Good green with very little blight
Chadwicks Cherry Bordeaux 4 Very blighted leaves, with leaves dropping
Principe Borghese Bordeaux 7 Rolled leaves with some blight, but not a bad green
Garden Pearl Bordeaux 6 Yellow blighty leaves, stems slightly affected
Costoluto Fiorentino Bordeaux 6 Rolled leaves, some blight, not on stems


At this point most of the tomatoes were showing some signs of blight, with Ferline, the blight resistant variety appearing the healthiest, along with Roma. There did not appear to be much difference between the results of the two different spraying regimes.
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Taste Tests

The eleven varieties of tomatoes were blind tasted at our annual show over the August bank holiday weekend.
130 people took part in the taste tests, and the results were as follows, being the average scores for the varieties.

tastetest
Letter in Taste test Name Score
D Gardeners Delight 7.3
E Garden Pearl 6.7
A Chadwicks Cherry 6.7
H Principe Borghese 6.3
G Moneymaker 5.7
F Marmande 5.6
K Tamina 5.6
B Costoluto Fiorentino 5.1
I Rio Grande 5.1
J Roma 4.8
C Ferline 4.8

The three cherry varieties came out top in the tests, with that evergreen favourite, Gardeners Delight, a clear winner with our testers.
Thank you to everyone who took part. We really enjoyed chatting to you, and hope you'll be back next year. Please email us or make a suggestion on the forum if you have any suggestions for next year's trials.
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Update 16th September

The plants at this point are really suffering from blight, with the group sprayed with the garlic and chilli recipe being far more blighted than the group sprayed with Bordeaux, with the exception of the blight resistant variety, Ferline, which looked much greener and healthier than the rest. This is the variety, however, that came bottom in our taste test.

blightgarlic blightbordeaux

Blight on the tomatoes sprayed with the garlic & chilli recipe, left, and with Bordeaux mixture, right.

At this point, the two worst affected varieties, Gardeners Delight and Marmande, which had blight on the tomatoes, were dug up.
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Update 5th October

All the tomatoes sprayed with the garlic and chilli recipe were dug up by 24th September.
The varieties sprayed with Bordeaux mixture lasted longer and were dug up on 2nd October, with the unaffected tomatoes left to ripen indoors.

Name

Sprayed with

Yield per plant

Position in taste test

Start of cropping

No of weeks cropping

Ferline G&C 3lb 5oz 11 25 August 4.5 weeks
Tamina G&C 3lb 4oz 7 25 August 3.5 weeks
Gardeners Delight G&C 2lb 3oz 1 11 August 5 weeks
Marmande G&C 3lb 7oz 6 11 August 5 weeks
Rio Grande G&C 2lb 14oz 9 25 August 4.5 weeks
Money maker G&C 3lb 6oz 5 7 August 7 weeks
Roma Bordeaux 2lb 5oz 10 11 August 7.5 weeks
Chadwicks Cherry Bordeaux 2lb 4oz 3 11 August 7.5 weeks
Principe Borghese Bordeaux 2lb 12oz 4 31 July 9 weeks
Garden Pearl Bordeaux 2lb 5oz 2 21 July 11 weeks
Costoluto Fiorentino Bordeaux 3lb 11oz 8 14 August 6 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ferline and Tamina were raised on a window sill and were smaller when planted out than the varieties raised in a greenhouse, and this would explain their later ripening.
Garden Pearl ripened by far the earliest, cropped for the longest period, and came second in the taste test. However it is a small bushy variety and would be better grown in a pot or hanging basket.
Costoluto Fiorentino had the largest yield, at 3lb 11oz per plant, but stopped ripening on the plant earlier than the other varieties, and had to be ripened indoors. It may be better grown in a greenhouse.
The blight resistant variety, Ferline certainly stayed a healthier colour and showed less blight for some time. It then collapsed very suddenly, but may have lasted longer had it been sprayed with Bordeaux mixture. It came bottom of the taste tests.
Of the Italian varieties, Principe Borghese, which came 4th after the cherry varieties in the taste tests, is also recommended for drying, and some of the others are meatier and recommended for cooking.

Conclusions

Blight - the garlic and chilli recipe was generally ineffective. The plants sprayed with Bordeaux mixture cropped for longer. The blight resistant variety, Ferline, looked healthy for longer than the others, but then collapsed very suddenly.
Yield – The cherry tomatoes had the lowest yields, around 2lb 4oz per plant. Gardeners Delight may have cropped for longer had it been sprayed with Bordeaux mixture.
Costoluto Fiorentino had the largest yield, at 3lb 11oz per plant
Taste – As may be expected given their juiciness and sweetness,  the three cherry tomatoes, Gardeners Delight, Garden Pearl and Chadwicks Cherry came out on top in the taste tests.

We hope you have enjoyed following our tomato trials.
We will be back next year with a trial of another crop – if you have any suggestions for our trials, please post your ideas on the forum

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