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One of the most popular vegetables (or fruits) to grow and eat, tomatoes are a joy! Many people look to grow this delish treat and in this blog, we’re going to look at the top 5 tomato varieties to grow in the UK.
Generally, tomatoes enjoy lots of sun, water and feed – they’re quite needy plants and not all varieties are suitable for our climate. The varieties we’re going to look at today are happy to grow in a northern climate, either outside or in a greenhouse.
The Shirley Tomato is a popular tomato variety that is well-suited to the UK climate. It was developed in the UK in the 1970s and is a determinate (bush style) variety that produces medium-sized, round fruit.
The Shirley Tomato is a high-yielding plant that is resistant to many common tomato diseases, making it a great choice for gardeners who want to avoid using pesticides or those just starting out on a tomato journey. It is easy to grow and suitable for growing both indoors and outdoors, happy in a hanging basket, windowsill or greenhouse.
Shirley Tomatoes will begin to ripen in mid-summer and will continue to produce fruit for several weeks. The plant typically grows to a height of around 1.2 meters, making it a good choice for gardeners with limited space such as a patio or balcony.
The Roma Tomato, also known as the Italian Plum Tomato, is a popular tomato variety that is well-suited to the UK climate. It is also a bush type of tomato and therefore is suitable for growing in places such as window boxes.
The Roma is a high-yielding variety that is resistant to many common tomato diseases including blight resistance, leaving you with plump red fruits that are free of the headaches that can come with tomato disease. It has a sweet, rich flavour that is perfect for cooking and making sauces, well known for making tomato puree.
The Roma Tomato is a versatile variety that can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It typically grows to a height of around 1 meter, and as bush tomatoes, it can be grown in pots wherever you like.
The Beefsteak Tomato is a large, meaty tomato that is well-suited to the UK climate and growing to huge sizes, it can be a joy to grow! It is an heirloom variety that has been grown in the US since the mid-1800s but is now popular worldwide.
The Beefsteak Tomato is a high-yielding variety that produces large, juicy fruit with a rich, sweet flavour – perfect for a Caprese salad for example. It can be a more challenging variety to grow than others, as it requires plenty of space, nutrients, and water to grow properly, and can be more susceptible to disease and pests.
The Beefsteak Tomato is suitable for growing both indoors and outdoors but is a good choice for outdoors due to its size and will grow well in a greenhouse with plenty of feeding and enough water to fill up the giant fruit that it grows.
Gardeners Delight Tomato
The Gardeners Delight Tomato is an extremely popular sweet cherry tomato variety that is well-suited to growing here in the UK and many start off with this variety. It was introduced in the UK in the 1950s and is an indeterminate variety that produces small, sweet fruit – as a vining variety, it can need lots of space and pinch out top shoots and suckers.
The Gardeners Delight Tomato is a high-yielding variety that is easy to grow and is best suited for growing outdoors, especially as it will need support growing, the best of which is to string up to a roof. It is resistant to many common tomato diseases and will begin to ripen in mid-summer, if grown well and fed it will give the grower a huge bounty of fruits all summer.
The plant typically grows to a height of around 2 meters, making it a good choice for gardeners with plenty of space, you need to monitor the suckers (growth between branches) and pinch them out to encourage fruiting and it’s worth stopping upward growth when it gets to 2 meters.
Another very popular UK tomato variety is the Moneymaker, one that is often grown by us here at Wonky HQ and delivers plenty of great fruit every year. It was introduced in the UK in the 1950s and is an indeterminate (vining) variety that produces medium-sized, round fruit – the type that are great all-around tomatoes.
The Moneymaker Tomato is a high-yielding variety that is easy to grow and although it can be grown indoors and out, we would advise growing outside so that you have space to give it supports and all the water and feed it requires. It has a mild flavour that is perfect for eating fresh or cooking.
The Moneymaker Tomato is resistant to many common tomato diseases and will begin to ripen in mid-summer. The plant typically grows to a height of around 2 meters, making it a good choice for gardeners with plenty of space – if you’re looking to give this one a go, then head over to our blog that focuses on the history and growing guide for moneymaker tomatoes.
Ailsa Craig Tomato
When it comes to heritage tomatoes with a historical pedigree, the Ailsa Craig variety stands in a league of its own. Named after a small island off the coast of Scotland, Ailsa Craig tomatoes have been gracing vegetable gardens and delighting tomato aficionados since their introduction in the early 20th century. Known for their balanced sweet-tart flavour and firm, juicy flesh, they make a versatile addition to any kitchen garden.
This indeterminate variety grows on vigorous vines that can reach up to 5 feet, or even more with optimal care, and produce a plentiful harvest of medium-sized fruits from mid to late summer. The tomatoes themselves are beautifully round and smooth, displaying an appealing bright red hue when fully ripe. They’re just the right size for slicing onto sandwiches or tossing into salads, and their robust flavour makes them an excellent choice for cooking as well.
Caring for Ailsa Craig tomatoes involves similar practices to most other tomato varieties. They prefer a sunny location with well-draining soil, and regular watering is crucial, especially during dry spells. As an indeterminate variety, they benefit from staking or caging for support, and routine pruning helps maintain plant health and maximise fruit production. With a little attention and care, the Ailsa Craig tomato can offer a prolific, flavourful harvest that pays a delightful tribute to its storied past.