Choosing the right tomato variety can make all the difference for gardeners aiming to maximise their harvest. Some types of tomatoes are known for their prolific production, providing an abundance of fruits throughout the growing season.
Let’s explore the tomato varieties that are famed for their bountiful yields.
Understanding Tomato Plant Types
Before delving into specific varieties, it’s crucial to understand the two primary types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate or ‘bush’ tomatoes tend to grow to a certain height, set all their fruit quickly, and then die back. Indeterminate or ‘vine’ tomatoes, on the other hand, continue growing, flowering, and setting fruit throughout the growing season until frost kills them.
Indeterminate varieties are typically the best choice for the most abundant and prolonged harvest. They will continue producing new fruits as long as they have the right growing conditions.
Champion Tomato Producers
There are many indeterminate tomato varieties known for their high yields. Here are a few favourites:
- ‘Sweet Million’: As the name suggests, Sweet Million is a champion producer. This variety can produce up to hundreds of small, cherry-sized tomatoes per plant. The fruits are sweet and perfect for salads.
- ‘Sungold’: This is another prolific cherry tomato variety. Sungold tomatoes have a unique, tangy-sweet flavour and a beautiful orange colour. The plants are vigorous and consistently high-yielding.
- ‘Gardener’s Delight’: This old favourite is loved for its reliable and generous crops of tasty, bite-sized fruits. It’s a popular choice among UK gardeners for its productivity and flavour.
- ‘Supersteak’: If you’re after large tomatoes, Supersteak might be your variety. Despite the size of the fruits – which can reach up to 2 lbs – the plants are impressively productive.
- ‘Roma’: Roma tomatoes, or Italian plum tomatoes, are an excellent choice for sauces and pastes. The plants are prolific producers, and the fruits are meaty with fewer seeds.
- ‘Beefsteak’: This group of tomato varieties is known for their large, meaty fruits. Some types of beefsteak tomatoes, like ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Big Boy’, are also famed for their productivity.
Remember, quantity shouldn’t be the only consideration. There’s no point having hundreds of tomatoes if they have no taste (like many supermarket tomatoes – don’t get me started!).
Tips to Increase Your Tomato Yields
Even the most prolific tomato varieties need the right care and conditions to reach their full potential. Let’s delve into some effective practices that can help increase your tomato yield:
Location and Sunlight
Tomatoes are sun-loving plants and need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Choose a planting location that receives plenty of sun throughout the day. More sunlight means more photosynthesis, producing more energy for growth and fruit production.
Soil and Nutrition
Tomatoes thrive in fertile, well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Before planting, it’s worth enriching your soil with compost or well-rotted manure.
As the plant grows and starts setting fruit, regular feeding with a tomato-specific fertiliser can boost yield. These fertilisers typically have a higher potassium content, which promotes flowering and fruiting.
Consistent watering is critical for a bountiful harvest. Tomatoes don’t like to dry out, but they also don’t appreciate waterlogged soil. Try to keep the soil moist but not wet. Using mulch can help retain soil moisture and prevent the growth of weeds.
Staking and Pruning
Indeterminate or vine tomatoes benefit significantly from staking or caging. Supporting your plants in this way encourages vertical growth, enhances air circulation, and makes it easier for sunlight to reach all parts of the plant.
Pruning your tomatoes can also increase yield. Remove the lower leaves and any non-fruiting branches to direct the plant’s energy towards fruit production.
Pest and Disease Management
Keeping your plants healthy is essential for a good yield. Regularly check for signs of pests or diseases. Common tomato pests include aphids and tomato hornworms, while common diseases include blight and blossom end rot.
Implementing preventative measures and promptly addressing any problems that arise can save your harvest. Using a greenhouse also helps to keep the tomato plants healthy and protected.
Optimal Planting Density
While squeezing in as many plants as possible might be tempting, giving your tomatoes enough space is crucial for their productivity. Overcrowded plants compete for resources and are more susceptible to diseases. As a rule of thumb, indeterminate tomatoes should be spaced about 60-90 cm apart.
Focusing on these aspects can significantly enhance your tomato yield, turning an average harvest into a bountiful one. So, while choosing a productive variety is essential, remember that your care and attention play a huge role in the final result.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!