I ripped out 3 of my tomato plants earlier in the week. The Broad Ripple Currant, the Sweet F1 Hybrid and the Baby Red Pear were all looking pretty much dead, so all came out and I can give that part of the bed a rest before I plant garlic. Of these 3 the only one I would bother growing again is the Broad Ripple Currant, the other 2 weren’t prolific enough or interesting enough to justify a repeat performance. The Broad Ripple Currant had the distinction of being my first tomato this year and supplied a reasonable amount of fruit before giving in to our variable weather and my erratic watering. The other thing the variety has going for it is the kids loved it.
For anyone unfamiliar with these varieties all are small tomatoes: Broad Ripple Currant is a tall growing yellow currant sized tomato. Sweet F1 Hybrid is a relatively short (mine grew to about 1 metre) bushy plant with red currant sized fruit and Baby Red Pear is a very tall growing plant with a cherry sized, pear shaped tomato.
In a different climate Baby Red Pear may be worth growing as the fruit were nice but it really didn’t like the heat at all, most of the foliage died on our first day above 38 (100F) degrees.
The other thing to note is that my garden never gets full sun and it may be that these varieties would perform better in full sun, or indeed in a slightly cooler climate. For instance Purple Russian is certainly performing better for my father than for me.
Both came from the same packet of seed and both looked like good seedlings when they were planted. The pathetic looking one (unfortunately mine) gets about 5 hours sun a day. The thick luxuriant one (my fathers) gets full sun and a cooler climate (they are about 4 degrees cooler, on average, than Melbourne). I think my fathers probably also gets more food – I do need to add more organic matter to my beds but they are not so depleted that it would make this much difference. His are also mulched a lot more thickly than mine. It would be interesting if anyone knows which of these variables is most likely to impact on the plants performance. I started writing this thinking it was the sun but the more I think about it the more I think it might be the mulch protecting the root system. I have since upped the levels of mulch on my other plants and the blackbirds have helpfully moved it away from the tomato plants and spread it all over my lawn, grrrrrr….
Not all my tomato plants look quite as pathetic as the Purple Russian.
Of my other tomatoes the one that is currently looking the healthiest is the Black Cherry which is one of the youngest plants and also co-incidently (?) is the one which I used the tomato rings on. I have been really happy using them I have to say, but more on that and the veggie cage which I am finally using in a post to come. The plant has a few dying leaves but is both happily growing and setting fruit which is all one can ask for really.
I gave all of my remaining tomato plants a prune, feed with fish emulsion and a water earlier in the week – hopefully that will prolong the crop well into Autumn. The Rouge de Marmande is already rewarding me with new shoots.