Successfully growing tomatoes in an area with a relatively short growing season such as the UK involves planning ahead. A polytunnel can really help to prolong the growing season as much as possible and can make it easier to grow tomatoes well. Still, most gardeners will start sowing tomato seeds indoors early next year, in order to have the best chance possible of a good harvest before the cold weather arrives once more.
As the cold weather creeps in this year, many gardener's thoughts will be turning to ordering seed for the following year. Before you do order seeds for sowing early next year, however, you may wish to carefully consider which seeds you are going to buy. Choosing which tomato varieties to grow in a polytunnel is not always an easy process. There are a number of different decisions to make.
Firstly, gardeners will have to decide whether they would like to go for heritage seeds, or modern hybrid varieties. Hybrid seeds sometimes have the advantage that they are more resistant to blight, or other pests and diseases. Unfortunately, hybrid seeds cannot be collected, so are not a good option if you would like to collect your own seed for next year. There are many advantages to growing heritage varieties organically. For one thing, growing old varieties can help to maintain and preserve the biodiversity of our seed stock, which is vital to our futures. Also, heritage varieties offer the chance to collect seed and gradually create a tomato that is even better suited to the conditions in your polytunnel.
After you have made that decision, of course you will also have to narrow it down further and work out what sort of tomatoes you would like to grow. Tomatoes come in a wide range of different shapes, sizes and even colours and each variety has different strengths and may be better for different uses in the kitchen.
If you would like cherry tomatoes, then Gardener's Delight is one highly regarded option, though many others are also available, each with its own strengths. Cherry tomatoes are great for raw eating and salads.
Most tomatoes are vining types and can be neatly cordoned. However, you can also choose a bush variety. Legend is one bush type that has good blight resistance and matures early and so is good for a short growing season.
If you would like to grow for canning and making tomato paste then plum or giant tomatoes could offer higher yield and fruit suited to this purpose. 'Amish Paste' is one huge variety that can grow fruits whose slices can almost cover a whole a slice of toast!
Red is not the only option for tomatoes. You could enjoy some variety with highly regarded Purple Cherokee, Orange Banana and many other colourful options. Choosing some more rare or unusual tomato varieties could mean that you are playing your part in saving them for posterity.