A Guide to Some Popular Heirloom Tomato Varieties in the UK

When it comes to choosing tomato seeds, more and more people are recognising the benefits of growing heirloom varieties rather than modern hybrids. While hybrids can have certain advantages, heirlooms are important to retaining biodiversity and will also allow you to collect the seeds and grow plants that come true from seed, gradually improving your tomato stock and allowing for the creation of strains that are best suited to the conditions where you live. There are a wide range of heritage varieties out there. To give you just a small taste of the variety you can expect, here are just a few of the heirloom tomatoes that are highly regarded in the UK:


Brandwine tomatoBrandywine (Beefsteak)


This large, beefsteak tomato is considered to be one of the most delicious tomatoes of this type. It can be grown outside or in a polytunnel or greenhouse. Best grown as cordons, these plants will flower and fruit between July and September. The fruits will take longer to mature than other varieties but the high yield and robustness of this variety means that, since it appeared in Victorian times, it has been an organic garden favourite.


Gardener's Delight tomatoesGardener's Delight (Cherry)


One of the most lauded of all heirloom cherry tomato varieties, this is a heritage variety that offers high yields and a sweet flavour. Their taste is the thing that is said to make them the cream of the crop when it comes to smaller, cherry-type tomatoes.


Galina tomatoesGalina (Yellow Variety)


Tomatoes are not all red and one of the joys of growing different heirloom or heritage varieties is that you can experiment and grow tomatoes in a wide range of different colours, shapes and sizes. Galina are one of the highly regarded yellow tomatoes – considered to be a heritage seed alternative to favourite hybrid, Sungold.


Cherokee purple tomatoCherokee Purple (Dark-Coloured Variety)


Deep purple, huge and utterly beautiful, this variety dates from the 19th Century and are prized not just for their looks but also for their taste and their long growing period. Slow to start, these tomato plants can be really abundant, especially under cover, once they get going.


Orange banana tomatoesOrange Banana (Orange-Coloured Plum Tomato)


These quirky plum tomatoes offer something a little different. They are good for both eating fresh in salads and for cooking and making into sauces and pastes. These are vigorous and productive plants with high yields, though they are best grown undercover as the large fruits can take a while to mature.


Experimenting with heirloom seeds can be a great way to learn more about gardening and discover the best tomato varieties for where you live. Shop online for organic seeds and try something a little different to see which heritage varieties will become your favourites.

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