Tomato - Solanum lycopersicum

The taste of a ripe, sun-warmed, homegrown tomato is hard to beat.

They are easy to grow and other than regular watering and occasional feeding require little additional care.

Worldwide, there's estimated to be over 10,000 varieties of tomato with fruit of various shapes, sizes, sweet or sharp flavours to use in summer salads or to cook with, and red, orange, yellow and even black. They can be grown as upright/cordon so it can be difficult to choose which variety to choose there are over 10,000 varieties, of bright red, orange and yellow fruit. If you are planning to grow tomatoes outside pick a variety with smaller fruit. Large tomatoes take quite a while to ripen and the chance of blight or cold weather affecting them before they are fully ripe, particularly towards the end of summer, is quite large.

Sow seeds indoors on a tray of seed compost, from the beginning of the year until mid-April, water well and put on a sunny windowsill. The seeds should germinate within a couple of weeks. When they are about 10cm tall, prick them out into individual pots, moving them into their final pots, growbags or open ground in mid to late May. When they begin to flower, feed them weekly with a high potash fertiliser.

Cherry tomato varieties should be ripe and ready to pick from mid-summer, regular sized and beefsteak tomatoes take longer to ripen.

If you are growing bush tomato plants, don't pinch out the side shoots as you would for 'cordon' or vine grown tomatoes, else you'll only have one 'truss' of fruit at the top of the plant.

Try to water tomato plants in the morning, watering later in the day may cause them to sit in water overnight.

If the leaves of your tomato plant begin to turn yellow, water with a Epsom Salts solution of 1 teaspoon per gallon (4.5 L) of water.

Blight is a disease that spreads in warm, wet conditions. Growing tomatoes in the greenhouse or conservatory does seem to delay plants succumbing to the disease.

Tomatoes contain melatonin, which aids sleeping, beefsteak tomatoes having higher levels than other types.

Culinary use:

Great to eat straight from the vine or use in a number of recipes. For the best flavour, store tomatoes at room temperature. If stored in the fridge, they should be left on the side to warm before using.

Cultivars and varieties:

Solanum lycopersicum 'Ailsa Craig'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Alfresco' F1 hybrid

Solanum lycopersicum 'Alicante' (Vine type) - Heavy cropping, slicing tomato with a good flavour.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Andine Cornue' (A plum variety) - A long plum-shaped tomato, good for cooking.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Aviditas' (Vine type) - A mini, plum tomato variety. Available as a grafted plant from Suttons.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Beefmaster' - A really good flavour, but it's a large tomato and will need a longer growing time than a cherry tomato, so may get blight before it ripens, particularly if grown outside.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Black Cherry' (Cherry type) - A delicious, small tomato with dark purple skin and dark red flesh.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Black Krim' - Large purple-coloured fruit.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Black Russian' - Dark coloured fruit with green veining at the top of the tomato.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Brandywine'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Cherry Baby' (Cherry) - Small, bright red, sweet tomato grown as a cordon.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Chocolate Cherry' (Cherry type) - Purple-coloured cherry tomato.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Costoluto Fiorentino'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Country Taste'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Crimson Cherry' - A blight resistant, large cherry tomato. Available as a grafted plant from Suttons.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Crimson Crush' - A compact plant with mid-sized tomatoes, a good flavour and blight resistance. Available from mid-April as small grafted plants from garden centres, mail-order and some retail stores.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Crimson Plum' - A blight resistant, mid-sized, plum tomato. Available as a grafted plant from Suttons.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Dombello' F1 hybrid

Solanum lycopersicum 'Fandango' - An outdoor f1 hybrid that show resistance to blight.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Garden Pearl' (Vine type with cherry sized fruit) - Sweet tasting, cherry tomatoes that hang down in clusters making them a perfect variety for hanging baskets or window boxes.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Gardener's Delight' (Vine type with cherry sized fruit) - Sweet tasting, cherry tomato with a good flavour. One of the most frequently home-grown varieties due to its reliability and plentiful crop.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Gold Nugget' (Bush/cherry type) - A yellow skinned tomato. An early ripening variety.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Golden Sunrise' (Vine type with cherry sized fruit) - A bright yellow, mid-size, salad tomato with a super-sweet, fruity flavour.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Indigo Rose' - Dark-blue fruit, sweet with a thin skin.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Marmande'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Moneymaker' - Heavy cropping variety.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Montello' (Bush type) - A prolific cropping F1 bush tomato with miniature oval tomatoes. Don't pinch out the side shoots.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Olivade' (Plum type) - A heavy fruiting, dark red, plum tomato that ripens early. A good variety to grow outdoors.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Orange Rapture' (A cherry variety) - An orange, cherry tomato.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Outdoor Girl' (Vine type) - Early ripening, so are good for outside. Good flavour.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Patio Plum' (Plum variety) - Miniature plum tomato that can be grown in a smallish container on the patio and will crop until the first frosts.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Pear Drop' - Small, pear drop shaped, yellow fruits with a sweet flavour. An heirloom variety.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Pink Temptation'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Premio' F1 hybrid

Solanum lycopersicum 'Purple Calabash' - A sweet tasting tomato with purple-brown colour skin.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Red Alert' (Bush/plum type)

Solanum lycopersicum 'Roma' (Bush/plum type)

Solanum lycopersicum 'San Marzano' (Plum variety) - An Italian, heirloom, plum tomato, perfect for cooking with as it has a lower water content.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Santonio' (Plum variety) - A plum tomato, perfect for cooking with.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Shirley'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Sugardrop' (Cherry variety) - A sweet, juicy cherry tomato.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Summer Sweet' (Plum type) - A small plum-shaped tomatoes that ripens quickly so is a good variety for growing outside.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Sungold' (Vine type with cherry sized tomatoes) - Orange skinned, cherry tomato with a sweet taste. The flavour reminds me of Heinz tomato soup. The fruit takes 57 days to mature so is a good variety to grow outside if you don't have a greenhouse.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Super Marmande' (Beefsteak variety) - Beefsteak.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Sweet Aperitif'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Sweet Million'

Solanum lycopersicum 'Tasty Tumbler' - Ideal for hanging baskets.

Solanum lycopersicum 'The Amateur' (Bush variety) - Bush variety.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Tiger' - An heirloom cultivar with distinctive stripes on the fruit. Firm flesh making it ideal for baking.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Tornado' - Good in pots and planters.

Solanum lycopersicum 'Tumbling Tom' - A compact, trailing, red cherry tomato with a sweet flavour. Ideal for hanging baskets.

Solanum lycopersicum ‘Rainbow Cascade’

Seeds to sow now:

Indoor or in a heated greenhouse




Ornamental pepper


Alpine wallflower



Aubretia, Rock cress, Aubrieta, Aubrietia


Beet, Beetroot, Chard



Canterbury bell,



Common wallflower



Double daisy


French bean, Fine bean

Kohl rabi



Ornamental winter kale



Runner bean


Spring onion

Sweet William


Other things to plant outside now:

Outside under cover



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