The long awaited…Tomato trial results!!!

Well it’s been a long time coming, apologies for that, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, hope you all had a great Easter…told you it was a long time coming…anyway here are the results. Drum roll please!!!

And what a mixed bag of results I have for you. Unfortunately, we were hit by what I think was blight, but maybe not, so I had an emergency harvest of lots of green tomatoes.

But regardless of this I can happily give you some definitive results.

The seed grown plant, Ali, produced a fair crop but it has to be said that the grafted plant, Ele, produced a bumper crop.

I picked the first ripe fruits of each plant on 23rd August. Ele produced a tomato weighing in at 49g and Ali produced a tomato weighing 21g.
Ali’s smaller fruit was lovely and sweet. Ele’s larger fruit, I thought had less flavour. My husband described it as watery but I would of said more tart, less sweet.

1st fruits

1st fruits

1st fruits

A few ripe fruits here and there. I was very much enjoying the fresh flavours of a regular serving of tomatoes with mozzarella and basil infusion olive oil throughout the summer. Yum!!

fresh garden tomato salad

fresh garden tomato salad

Sizes of fruits from both plants varied some smaller than others but neither plant really developing larger fruit than the other. I’ve used a pound coin token as the size reference in the photos.

image

tomato size comparison

tomato size comparison

Then, Ele started to develop larger fruit.

Ele's larger one.

Ele’s larger one.

I was waiting for the fruit to ripen but, unfortunately, in mid September the plants were hit by what I believe was blight which wiped out my other tomato plants in other beds so I picked all the unaffected fruit off the plants. I believe I lost a third of the crop from each plant.

blighted crop

blighted crop

<

image

image

image

image

blight stricken tomatoes

blight stricken tomatoes

Based on the amount that was harvested, you can see that Ele was well on her way to producing a bumper crop as I harvested a bucket full of fruit opposed to Ali’s smaller harvest. I would estimate that Ele (grafted plant) produced 50% more fruit than Ali (seed grown plant).

image

image

salvaged crop

salvaged crop

But to turn a bad situation into a positive I now know how easy it is to make green tomato chutney and how utterly yummy it is. I have included the recipe I used at the bottom of this post from a book called ‘Using the Plot’ by Paul Merrett, lent to me by a friend. Paul if you’re out there I’d love a copy!! (desperate plea over)

green tomato chutney

green tomato chutney

So to summarise, the grafted plant was a beast and next time I will plant them in deeper pots (I have since found out that this is recommended) and use stronger supports, but by golly they do produce a lot more fruit than the seed grown plants. There is a cost implication to consider, as the grafted plants would be more of an investment, but if I can grow fewer plants and get the same amount of fruit then for me that is a real bonus. I have an average house plot and by growing more productive plants in a smaller area I can then use the other space to grow a larger variety of vegetables.

And to put my money where my mouth is I, indeed, visited Huntingdon Garden and Leisure Centre over the Bank holiday weekend and purchased 2 grafted plants at £4.99 each. I’ve gone with a Beefsteak variety – F1 belriccio and a Plum variety – F1 giulietta. The labels say ‘produce up to 75% more fruit’ which in the right growing conditions I would believe.

newly purchased grafted tomato plants

newly purchased grafted tomato plants

grafted 2

I do have to confess I have also planted some seeds and plan to use them as a slower follow-on crop, if they take and survive by amateur gardening techniques. Well that’s the plan…I’ll keep you posted.

Just a quick thank you to Huntingdon Garden and Leisure Centre for giving me the opportunity to conduct this trial. I’m a convert to grafted and would recommend others to give them a go!!

Recipe as promised. (Hope Paul Merrett doesn’t mind me sharing it from his fab book ‘Using the Plot’)

green tomato chutney recipe

green tomato chutney recipe

Ali and Ele update time.

Hello it’s that time again. A growth update on Ali & Ele for my tomato plant trail, seed grown versus grafted on behalf of Huntingdon Garden & Leisure Centre.

Now, first things first, I need to confess something. I’ve never used grow bags before and I followed the instructions and planted the plants without punching any holes in the grow bag. Problem is, with all this rain the plants got waterlogged and were suffering from leaf yellowing. In my defence, the instructions on the bag actually say “be careful not to pierce the bag’. Anyhow, after some consultation with my friendly garden centre people, I have now pierced the bags. So fingers crossed now for a return to full health for Ele & Ali. Suggestions as to whether I should remove the yellowed leaves or not would be helpful, thank you.

So growth update – Ali (seed) hasn’t done anything since last measure a couple of weeks ago and is still 35cm whereas Ele (graft) has added another 5cm now measuring 60cm.  You can see from the photo Ele really is towering over Ali now.

Ali & Ele 3/6

Ali & Ele 3/6Ali & Ele 3/6

I have given them another feed today, feeding them weekly as per instructions on the bottle.

And so it continues. . .

 

 

Ali & Ele update.

For those of you just joining me, I’m conducting a seed grown versus grafted tomato plant trial for Huntingdon Graden & Leisure Centre, Ali (seed) and Ele (graft).

This first update sees Ali and Ele both adding a few centimetres since they first arrived home (5/5).  Ele is now measuring 55cm (added 6cm) and Ali is now measuring 35cm (added 8cm). Ele has 2 trusses developing so far, Ali has one. 

Now they are all settled in I’ve given them their first feed today.

Ali, Ele & friend

Ali, Ele & friend

Their friend’s a cherry bush variety, we’re calling Sweetie, my daughter planted up at Huntingdon Garden & Leisure’s Free Kids Club – Grow your own tomatoes (5/5).

 

 

Meet Ali & Ele

As promised the trial has begun – grafted versus seed grown tomato plants.  Huntingdon Garden and Leisure Centre invited me to conduct a trial for them.  What produces more fruit, a grafted plant or a seed grown plant.

Here are my test subjects, F1 Elegance (who shall be known as Ele), a grafted plant, and Alicante (who shall be known as Ali), a seed grown plant.

5th May – the two plants have been planted into a grow bag. At the time of planting Ele measured 49cm in height and Ali measured 27cm.  Already the grafted plant is looking a stronger specimen.  But we shall see!

Image

DIY cell plant pots

It was time to start sowing the veg seeds at last. I was at the garden centre and stood musing over whether I should buy some cell plant pots for the veg plants.  I just could not bring myself to part with the money and then I was struck with inspiration so I left without making a purchase and went home.  Luckily, at home, I had a collection of cardboard toilet roll inners (don’t ask!) so I gathered the collection and off I went to the shed. I have also been collecting plastic containers that the soft fruit comes in at the supermarket and thus combining the two, I created homemade plant cell inserts.

DIY plant cell inserts

DIY plant cell inserts

I cut the toilet roll inners in half to sow leeks, I plan to leave them in one piece to sow beans. I put grit in the bottom of the plastic trays and then put in the cardboard rolls and secured them in place with more grit around them. I filled the rolls with compost and sowed the seeds.

Filled DIY cell inserts

Filled DIY cell inserts

Hopefully the cardboard will hold together long enough to transplant the seedlings into the veggie beds and more so I hope the plants grow well in them. I’ll let you know.