Tomato Problems: Blossom End Rot

White Zebra with Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot

If you've got tomatoes that look like the above pictures, you've got Blossom End Rot.

Now, this isn't a disease or insect damage or anything terrible like that but its to do with the way you've been treating your plants and is recoverable so don't despair.

The actual cause is lack of calcium but what you've probably done wrong is uneven watering. I don't know why but tomatoes like to be watered evenly throughout the season, keeping them damp down to a depth of about six inches is what you're trying to achieve. In fact you're best to water them from below, encouraging roots to grow as deep as possible (but of course you can't do that if you're growing in the greenhouse border or growbags which is why I tend to grow in pots filled with growbag compost).

Different varieties are more susceptible and we've found that long, paste, Italian varieties are more likely to succumb than round and beefsteak varieties (however, as you can see from the pictures above, we had problems with White Zebra in 2018).

As well as uneven watering, there is a suggestion that putting the plants out in cold soil could contribute to the problem so it will probably go away later on in the season.

There isn't a lot you can do about it, try to make sure that you are watering evenly, throw the affected fruit away and hope for the best.

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2018 – Mid September Update

Greenhouse 1
Greenhouse 2

So, here we are in the middle of September, the days are beginning to get shorter and (this year at least) the tomatoes are starting to slow down. So far may greenhouses have produced about 26kg of tomatoes, a mixture of all sorts and colours and I've been reasonably pleased.

Many of the tomatoes are in the freezer chopped ready to supply us through the winter although many have been eaten as we go with a mixture salads and cooking.

For whatever reason, many of this years tomatoes are paste varieties which don't taste as nice unless they are cooked although we've had plenty of cherry tomatoes (mainly yellow) and a good crop of various beefsteak varieties (of which I think my favourite ones are Moonglow and Big Rainbow).

If you look at the pictures, you'll see that the greenhouses aren't very tidy. This year I haven't bothered to grow the plants as a single cordon just putting strings around to hold the plants back to the walls. It seems to have worked fine but I think that the warm (hot & sunny) weather has contributed. Had it been cooler and damper, my guess is that I would have had Blight at some stage.

I have had quite a bit of Blossom End Rot but its been concentrated on a few varieties (Orange Banana, White Zebra, Zhefen Short) and the others have been reasonably free. However, I have had some splitting in the cherry tomatoes (Peacevine have been the worst) so they've either had to be thrown away or cooked.

It will be interesting to see how long they go on cropping.

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Recipe: Roast Vegetables & Salmon

I love tray bakes, they're simple and (usually) just need you to put it all together and leave it alone. This recipe isn't quite that simple but takes about 40 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 100g (or more) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large courgette
  • 60g (or more) french beans
  • 2 peppers ( 1 red, 1 yellow) for the colour
  • 2 x 140g skinned salmon fillets
  • 25g pitted black olives
  • 1-2tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2tsp herbs de provence
  • 1tsp oregano
  • olive oil spay
  • other vegetables if you want (we add things like cauliflower, broccoli, etc. depending on what's available and will cook consistently)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C
  2. Chop the onion, garlic, peppers, courgettes and add to the roasting tray with the herbs. Season (we don't use salt) and spray with a little oil.
  3. Mix it all together and put it into the oven for about 20 minutes until the vegetables seem cooked but not too soft
  4. Cut the other vegetables into bite sized pieces and boil them until nearly cooked (say 5-10 minutes)
  5. Take the baking tray out of the oven and add the salmon fillets, cooked vegetables and cherry tomatoes. Spray a little more oil
  6. Put it all back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the salmon is cooked.

There you are, done with minimal amount of effort serve with rice if you want.

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Recipe: Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Whilst this recipe doesn't include tomatoes (or in fact anything we commonly grow) its extremely simple, filling and cheap. We make it and have it two days running although you can freeze it if you want.

Ingredients

  • Butternut Squash (1kg makes a generous four helpings)
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tbs coriander seeds
  • 2tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli (more or less to taste)
  • 1ltr chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 rashers smoke bacon (to decorate)
Butternut Squash Soup Decorated with bacon

Method

  1. Get out your slow cooker and assemble
  2. Peel & chop the butternut squash into 1-2 cm cubes add to the cooker
  3. Peel & chop the onion add to the cooker
  4. Grind the spices - add to the cooker
  5. Crush the garlic & add to the cooker
  6. Put enough vegetable stock to cover the rest of the ingredients in the cooker
  7. Set the cooker on high for 3-4 hours at the end check that the squash is soft & cooked
  8. Whizz it all up with a stick blender until smooth
  9. Fry the bacon & chop into bite sized pieces (you can do this at any time the bacon doesn't have to be hot

There you are, done with minimal amount of effort serve with bread, toast or anything you like. If you want it spicier, add some Tabasco sauce when you serve, this has the advantage that you can make it differently spicy depending on how people like it.

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Recipe: Fish Tagine

A quick and easy risotto that uses plenty of tomatoes and so is good during August when there are plenty of ripe tomatoes coming from the garden.

Ingredients (for 4)

  • 400+g ripe tomatoes
  • 150g carrots
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 small potatoes
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or less if you don't want it too spicy)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300ml fish stock
  • 350g White Fish (cod or basa filet)
  • Oil for frying

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan with a dash of water and add the carrots, potatoes, onion, mushrooms & celery. Cook stirring for about 2 minutes then add the spices and bay leaves.
  2. Add the tomatoes and stock then cover and bring to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes) the add the fish and cook until the fish is cooked (5-10 minutes).
  3. Serve in bowls with heated bread rolls.
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Recipe: Tomato & Corgette Risotto

This is a very flexible recipe to which you can add more or less any of the summer vegetables you have (french beans for example)

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 400g ripe tomatoes
  • Additional Cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1-2 courgettes
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 1/2 Onion
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 500ml vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Oil for frying
  • Grated Parmesan

Method

  1. Finely dice the onion and put it to fry with the oil over a low heat in a wide frying pan.
  2. Fry gently until soft (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic & coriander seeds
  4. Stir in the rice until all coated with oil and onion
  5. Add half the stock and simmer gently
  6. Meanwhile skin the tomatoes by scoring them and putting them in boiling water for a minute or two and dice them.
  7. If you want, you can remove the seeds (but keep the juice it adds flavour).
  8. Add the chopped tomatoes and juice to the pan and simmer until all the tomato juice is absorbed
  9. Meanwhile put the chopped courgettes and cherry tomatoes in a roasting pan in the oven at 180/200C and roast for 10-12 minutes until just soft
  10. Add the remaining stock to the rice and continue to simmer until its all absorbed and the rice is cooked.
  11. When the rice is cooked stir in the parmesan and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Server topped with the courgettes and cherry tomatoes

There you go, about 30-40 minutes from start to end and the risotto using tomatoes & courgettes.

As far as we can see, you can stir in any vegetables you have, just cut them up so they will cook either in the oven with the cherry tomatoes or in the rice base.

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Recipe: Tomato Risotto

A quick and easy risotto that uses plenty of tomatoes and so is good during August when there are plenty of ripe tomatoes coming from the garden.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 250g - 400g ripe tomatoes
  • 200g Risotto Rice
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 500ml vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Grated Parmesan
  • 50ml Red wine (optional)

Method

  1. Finley dice the onion and put it to fry with the oil over a low heat in a wide frying pan.
  2. Fry gently until soft (about 10 minutes).
  3. If you want to be proper, heat the stock in a separate pan so that you can add it a bit at a time.
  4. Meanwhile skin the tomatoes by scoring them and putting them in boiling water for a minute or two and dice them.
  5. If you want, you can remove the seeds (but keep the juice it adds flavour).
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and juice to the onions and fry until it forms a thick paste.
  7. Add the rice, rosemary and seasoning.
  8. Then (to do it properly) you can add a couple of ladles of stock and simmer it until its all absorbed into the rice then repeat with more stock until the rice is cooked and tender (about 20 minutes). Or, you can do as we do which is to add all the stock and simmer it gently, stirring occasionally until the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender. Personally I haven't ever been able to tell the difference.
  9. When the rice is cooked stir in the parmesan, serve and sprinkle some more parmesan over the risotto.

There you go, about 30-40 minutes from start to end and a thick, creamy risotto using lots of tomatoes.

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2018 Update

Simple announcement, I’ve now updated the list of tomato cultivars to include those I’ve grown in 2018. That brings to 161 the number listed.

2018 has been a somewhat peculiar year, the tomatoes are early because of the weather. Which is probably a good job because I didn’t do much in the way of thinning out this year and so I have a mess of plants in the greenhouses. I’ve also grown a lot of cultivars that I didn’t know what they were going to be so its been fun finding out what they looked & tasted like. A few pleasant surprises.

Best taste: Moonglow, Artisan Pink Tiger, Darby Striped

Biggest: Moonglow, Carotina, True Black Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter

Disappointment: Peacevine (split on picking), White Zebra (lots of Blossom End Rot)

However, even they were good to eat.

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Tomato Pink Tiger (Artisan Pink Tiger)

A pointed, red and pink striped open pollinated tomato on indeterminate plants.

Description

We got this from the 2017 seed swap (possibly from the same source as Blush Tiger) and again it was a pleasant surprise (well, less of a surprise following Blush last year).

I presume its part of the family of tomatoes bred by Fred Hempel in California and released into the market in 2011. The pink/red stripe fruits are the same shape as Blush and but the flesh is pink with a similar (as far as I remember) outstanding flavour. Mildly Sweet and with complex flavours in the background it immediately struck our grandchildren as something nice to eat. They are best eaten on their own (they’re too delicate for cooking and get swamped by other sharper flavours if you eat them in a salad).

It cropped relatively heavily with many fruit on a truss. The plant itself was similarly uncontrollable, with many vines growing in all directions.

A tomato we have grown again and would recommend you to try.

Its one of the "Artisan" family of seeds. If the rest are all this good, life is better.

Artisan Pink Tiger
Artisan Pink Tiger
Artisan Pink Tiger
Artisan Pink Tiger

Quick Facts

  • Fruit Type: Salad
  • Fruit Shape: Oval/Pointed
  • Fruit Size: Small/Medium
  • Fruit Colour: Pink/Red Stripe
  • Flesh Colour: Pink
  • Plant Type: Indeterminate
  • Seed Type: Open Pollinated?
  • Leaf Type: Regular
  • Time to Ripe: Mid
  • Taste: Sweet/Mild Complex
  • Fruit per Truss: 10-15
  • Truss Spacing: 12-18 inches
  • Alternatives:
  • Our Source: 2017 Seed Swap

Buy Your Seeds Here

Prices given are for a packet of seeds (and may be wrong) different suppliers have different numbers of seeds in a packet.

Buy Your Plants Here

Prices may be wrong and will be for different numbers of different sized plants.

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Tomato Lima Korai

Red, Plum shaped paste/salad tomato on Indeterminate plants.

Description

Grown for the first time in 2018 with seeds from a seed swap, we were interested to see how this grew.

These plum shaped tomatoes were halfway in size between King Humbert and Radana. My guess is that they are a small paste tomato because (although there was some juice in the fruit) their taste was somewhat bland and the plants were not especially productive.

At least they didn't get Blossom End Rot or split, both of which seem to have been problems through 2018.

Not one I would grow again, simply because there are lots of similar tomatoes and it didn't leave me desperately wanting to eat them in preference to most of the cherry tomatoes.

Lima Korai - 2018
Lima Korai - 2018
Lima Korai - 2018
Lima Korai - 2018

Quick Facts

  • Fruit Type: Paste
  • Fruit Shape: Plum
  • Fruit Size: 1 - 1.5 inches
  • Fruit Colour: Red
  • Flesh Colour: Red
  • Plant Type: Indeterminate
  • Seed Type: Open Pollinated
  • Leaf Type: Regular
  • Time to Ripe: Early/Mid (65-70 days)
  • Taste: Cooking
  • Fruit per Truss: 4-8
  • Truss Spacing: 15-18 inches
  • Alternatives: King Humbert, Kibits Ukranian
  • Our Source: 2017 Seed Swap

Buy Your Seeds Here

Buy Your Plants Here

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