Posts Tagged ‘tomato seeds’

Mr Fothergill’s Easy Grow Guides: How To Grow Tomatoes

April 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments



There’s nothing like the taste of sweet, juicy home grown tomatoes. One of our most popular varieties and actually a fruit rather than a vegetable, they are also incredibly easy to grow. Although we believe that the prospect of growing and picking their own delicious tomatoes is one of the main reasons many people invest in a greenhouse, the good news is you do not require one. The plants will usually do well, even in our unpredictable British summer, especially when given a warm sheltered spot, plenty of moisture and regular feeding.

You can start the seed off indoors from January, whether on a sunny windowsill, in a heated propagator or warm greenhouse.  Or if you are growing for outdoors then sowing in March and April will ensure you aren’t left tending huge plants that end up blocking out the light on your windowsill!

You’ll be surprised how quickly the seedlings grow and the impressive size they reach in just a few weeks to give you a delicious crop from late summer onwards. Even if you only have room for a few plants, a little effort now will pay dividends later!

It’s often said that the difference between ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’ is that ‘knowledge’ is knowing that tomatoes are fruit but ‘wisdom’ is knowing not to put them in a fruit salad!

Our best selling standard indoor & outdoor varieties are reliable for beginner tomato growers and seasoned gardeners alike, so think about trying from the following selection if you growing for the first time, or if you want to try something new then explore the many tomato varieties on offer in our website.

  • Moneymaker: For many this is the gardeners’ standard choice as it is a heavy cropper of fine tasty fruits approximately 60g/2oz
  • Shirley F1: A true favourite, excellent show bench performer with heavy crops of tasty, high quality fruits. Disease resistance to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Cladosporium ABC & Fusarium.
  • Ferline F1: Superb quality standard sized fruit with a wonderful flavour & the added benefit of showing tolerance of blight, Fusarium & Verticillium.
  • Sweet Baby: Excellent source of vitamin C & antioxidants, this cordon cherry tomato is well suited either outside or in the greenhouse
  • Sungold F1: Attractive golden fruits which have a very high sugar content balanced with some acidity.
  • Sakura F1: Amazing sweet & delicious flavour, produces lots of fruits that hang in trusses on vigorous plants.

Tomato Cherry Sweet Baby


Tomato Shirley F1


Tomato Cherry Sungold F1


Tomato Ferline F1

























Saving Tomato Seeds: How to Prepare and Store Seeds from Your Tomato Plants [video]

September 13th, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Nation of Gardeners - Saving Tomato SeedsTomatoes are important to all gardeners, every one has a favourite. You can easily save the seeds from your favourite tomato plants in preparation for next year. This post and the video below offers tips on saving tomato seeds. 

  • Most tomatoes hold 100 or more seeds. So you only need to save a few tomatoes.
  • Only save seeds from traditional, open pollinated tomatoes.
  • Collect seeds from fully ripened fruits. Cut them open and scoop out the pulp from inside the tomato. Top this up with water and label the jar with the tomato variety.
  • It is important to remove the gel surrounding the seeds. Leave for two to five days, to begin fermenting which will kill off any harmful bacteria. It will also break down the seed coat.
  • Check the seeds daily, the seeds are ready for cleaning when the pulp floats to the top. Carefully skim of the pulp from the top and tip the liquid and seeds into a strainer.
  • Wash the seeds under running water, using a wooden spoon. This will remove any of the remaining pulp.
  • To dry the seeds, spread them across a paper towel to remove the majority of the water.
  • Transfer onto a non stick surface, dry the seeds in a warm place out of direct sunlight. It will take two to three weeks for the seeds to completely dry.
  • Store the seeds into labelled paper envelopes. Store them in a dry place. They can store for up to five years.

This is just a basic outline of saving tomato seeds, the video below offers further detail. If you have any tips for saving tomato seeds, do let us know in the comments below or on our social media. 

GrowVeg – Saving Tomato Seeds: How to Prepare and Store Seeds from Your Tomato Plants

Red Bodyguard – Taste the Tomato, Read the Book

February 11th, 2016 | News, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Ron Levin, author of The Red Bodyguard

A book written about the beneficial properties of the tomato has given its name to a new British-bred variety launched exclusively for the 2016 season by Suffolk seedsman Mr Fothergill’s. “The Red Bodyguard: The Amazing Health-promoting Properties of the Tomato” by Ron Levin is published in its third edition by IRIS (International)  Ltd.

Ron’s daughter-in-law Sarah Levin contacted Mr Fothergill’s to see if a new tomato might be named in honour of her father-on-law’s 90th birthday. Staff at the company read Ron’s book and liked the idea. Tomato Red Bodyguard F1 is the result of various crosses made by renowned breeder Simon Crawford using seed harvested from Mr Fothergill’s trial ground. The result is an indeterminate, early cropping, high yielding, new strain, with some resistance to late blight, which produces medium-sized, juicy, delicious and aromatic fruits.

“We have developed strong links with Simon through the years, and are delighted to have launched his excellent Red Bodyguard F1 for 2016, especially as this has been nominated internationally as the Year of the Tomato, which we shall be emphasising through our retail stockists”, says Mr Fothergill’s technical manager Alison Mulvaney.

Ron Levin, a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, was intrigued by the World Health Organisation’s promotion of eating portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and wondered whether some were better than others for human health. He read hundreds of studies on tomatoes, and the more he read the more he was convinced of the remarkable properties of the tomato. “The ripe red tomato is surely a health gift from Nature”, says Ron. It was this huge amount of research which spurred him to write “The Red Bodyguard” in the hope of making as many people as possible aware of it.

A packet of 10 seeds of tomato Red Bodyguard F1 costs £1.95. It is available from garden centres and other retail outlets throughout the UK, and from Mr Fothergill’s mail order catalogue.

Nation of Gardeners April planting update: follow the Cucamelon craze!

May 22nd, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Live plants delivery for #nationofgardenersThe weather in April was warm and mild.  When the sun came out, a foretaste of summer was gifted to us and the showers that accompanied the warm weather made for a perfect Spring in gardening terms.  This has certainly helped our Nation of Gardeners to raise some healthy plants for Mr Fothergill’s trials.

During the previous two months, our group of gardeners have been sent tomato seeds, totalling 6 varieties. Everyone has been getting along rather well with tomato growing on the whole, with some very impressive plants being seen from some of gardeners around the UK.  We certainly seem to have the green-fingered amongst us that is for sure.

In the April parcel there were yet more tomatoes for our Nation of Gardeners to grow. This time they were supplied in plug plant form having been grown in the Mr Fothergill’s nurseries in optimum growing conditions.

We also sent out sweet peas and garlic, which had been received before in the autumn in order our group of gardeners could make more comparisons between spring and autumn planting.   And, since everyone seems to be talking about them this year, we also included a pack of Cucamelons in the April parcel in order to see if these plants live up to their hype!

You can follow the gardener’s progress as they post regular updates to the Facebook wall or by following the #nationofgardeners hashtag on Twitter.  Feel free to post your own garden updates to Mr Fothergill’s too.


A round up of April’s planting tasks

A new species has hit the headlines in 2014, most probably due to the efforts of James Wong!   In 2014 Mr Fothergill’s is proud to present to the public the Cucamelon!

We have found at Mr Fothergill’s a huge increase in interest in this greenhouse crop, so much so that we have run out of supplies of Cucamelon once already this year and have had to restock. We thought we would give this newly available plant a run through with our Nation of Gardeners to see how they got on with it.

Cucamelons germinating

Bristol Cucamelons starting to climb

The variety is Cucamelon Mexican Gherkin, which promises an abundance of fruit that resemble tiny watermelons.   With a taste that is similar to cucumber but with a citrus-y, lime-y tang, they will be perfect for scattering whole on summer salads.  Unless the taste is an acquired one!

Our gardeners sowed their cucamelons in mid-April, though for some germination was erratic.  This was mostly due to a lack of sufficient heat.  Cucamelons need a constant 20 degrees C to get going, whereupon they can tolerate lower temperatures thereafter.  So a bottom heat supply is the best way of getting this seed to germinate well.

Bristol Cucamelons

Shown above are the newly emerged seedlings in Devon and in Bristol.  Above and to the right here are the same Bristol seedlings on 10 May, and to the left here by 18 May.

Heat again seems to have separated the field on this crop once they had started to grow as small plants.  We have seen in a short space of time some large-and-already-climbing plants like these ones pictured to the left that are being grown in Bristol, whereas others are still only small.  As the vines start to establish themselves we shall be able to see who gets the best results out of these plants, and whether they are a taste that is to everyone’s liking!


A fourth and final shipment of Garlic Solent Wight was sent out in April.   After the autumn and spring planted Garlic Solent Wight from bulbs in October and February, and a planting of pot grown garlic in March, Mr Fothergill’s supplied the gardeners with a final set of three pot grown garlic plants to test whether the plants supplied in this way will bolt.


Parcel arrival in AprilOur group also received tomato plants grown in the Mr Fothergill’s nurseries this month.  These were the same three varieties that the gardeners had already received the month before in seed form.  Three young plants each of Tomato Ferline F1, Tomato Sakura F1 and Tomato Sungold F1 were sent out in order to compare growth and yield against the plants raised from seed.

The plants arrived moist and unruffled by Royal Mail as the picture here to the left shows and so they were given the best start they could have.  At only 5-6 inches high upon receipt, these plants have shot off in the month our gardeners have had them.  Many of these supplied plants are now blooming ahead of the seed raised plants of the same varieties and are standing now at about 2 feet tall.

The pictures below show some of our first tomato blooms in Pontypridd and Buckinghamshire.

Tomatoes in bloom May


The gardeners were also supplied with fresh batches of Sweet Pea Sir Henry Cecil and Sweet Pea Old Spice Mixed so that they could test the sowing of these seeds in the Spring against the plants they sowed back in the Autumn of 2013.  Germination rates were very good for these seeds with everyone – apart from our gardener in Pontypridd! – producing healthy seedlings very quickly.


With the first blooms being seen on the autumn sown plants for many of our gardeners, there is no doubt that these spring sown seeds will ever be able to catch up with their autumn cousins though!

Autumn sown sweet peas


October through to March updates

There is now so much going on in the gardens of our Nation of Gardeners that we can merely pick out edited highlights for you here:

  • Autumn sown sweet peas were planted into the ground during early April for some of our gardeners and many more have followed suit as the warmth of May has become a persistent feature in our gardens.   The few frosts we have experienced don’t appear to have had a lasting damaging effect and we have seen our first sweet pea blooms during April and May.
  • Potatoes in planters in PontypriddPotatoes across the country are doing really well for most.  The first shoots started to push their way through the soil in patio planters and in the ground around the UK in late March.  By mid May many of our gardeners have huge top growth on their plants and no more space in their planters for any more earthing up to be done.
  • Basil PiccolinoGarlic – planted out twice from individual cloves in autumn and again in the spring – is looking to be growing at a similar rate for many gardeners.  Whilst we only have the top growth to make our judgements on at this stage, it may well be that all the differences will be underground where the new bulbs for this summer’s crops are developing.
  • Basil Piccolino was sent out in December to our group of gardeners and progress on these plants has been pretty slow, but now Basil Piccolino seems ready to grow!  This plant has a slow growing and compact habit, but once it starts to mature, it creates a dense bush of aromatic basil leaves.  It’s a pretty bush and is an excellent variety to grow for basil plant afficionados who would like a change from the more common Genovese types.
  • Antirrhinums growing in RenfrewshireOur gardener in Renfrewshire has giant antirrhinums now hardening off in her garden.  Our gardeners in Cheshire, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Pontpridd, Worcestershire and Suffolk have all managed to grow some specimens and so summer will show us how these new and exclusive snapdragons perform.
  • Cimicifugas are starting to show more top growth after a very slow start for these plants.  This plant has been very reticent to show any promise all winter and so it is with some excitement that the gardeners are greeting these plants into their borders.

Keep an eye on the hashtag #nationofgardeners on Twitter for more updates as the gardeners post them, or follow the postings to the Facebook wall where you can also find a gallery of plant pictures that chronicle the Nation of Gardeners activities to date.

April 2014′s planting

March 2014′s planting

February 2014′s planting

January 2014′s planting

December 2013′s planting

November 2013′s planting

October 2013′s planting


Nation of Gardeners results: Tomato Ferline plants

May 22nd, 2014 | Nation of Gardeners, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Tomato Ferline F1Tomato Ferline F1  are a blight tolerant variety that produces superb quality standard sized fruit with a wonderful flavour.  Tolerance to blight, Fusarium and Verticillium, this is an indeterminate variety, for healthier crops outdoors or in a greenhouse.

Our Nation of Gardeners were asked to sow Tomato Ferline F1 in March 2014 for, predominantly, outdoor growing, though the gardeners may also choose to grow some of their plants in a greenhouse if they wish.  In April, the same variety was supplied again as plants as a comparative trial against the March sown seeds.  Mr Fothergill’s are looking for reports on yield and flavour, but also disease resistance if any of the gardeners previously have experienced problems with blight and other diseases this variety is bred for tolerance against.

The table below charts their progress.

Location Elevation Date planted Date first bloom/fruit Notes
Cheshire 49m 10 April Planted straight to open ground. West facing position.
Renfrewshire 28m 10 April Placed in plastic grow house
North Devon 30-50m 13 April Potted on to east facing windowsill.
Worcestershire 55m 10 April 15 May Planted out 3 May in west facing position. The first flowers have appeared 15/5
Herefordshire 11 April Potted and left by front door- west facing. 30 April: very slow to put on growth so moved to the poly tunnel
Cumbria 90m 10 April Planted into greenhouse.
Ceredigion 131m 11 April Planted into greenhouse – strong, speedy plants.
Bristol 55m 10 April Planted into conservatory
Suffolk 6m 10 April Planted into the greenhouse
Hertfordshire 150m 11 April Planted into greenhouse in growbags. Planted into growbag outside on the 5th May
Surrey 58m 10 April Planted into greenhouse in south west facing position. A strong plant, very healthy. Grown in pots. 16/05/14
Pontypridd 157m 10 April Supplied as strong established plants. Have doubled in size since first planted. In process of hardening off and will go into final positions in a few weeks time.
Buckinghamshire 66m
Guildford 56m
Gloucestershire 74m 17 April Planted into the greenhouse. South facing position
Moray 10 April Planted into greenhouse. South facing position
Derbyshire 241m 10 April 17 May 15/04/2014 – all well established a few days after potting on to compost – indoors overnight, outside during the days to keep hardened off.  30 April: Stronger plants that are more hardy looking than the seed sown plants from previous month. 17 May: first yellow flowers