If you want to confuse your friends try feeding them Green Zebra Tomatoes. These were bred in the 1980’s by the famous tomato breeder Tom Wagner and whilst ripe tomatoes will take on a slightly yellow tone, they never stray far from the name that they are given.
In the kitchen: Green Zebra are a medium sized tomato, growing to about 2 inches across. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Be careful not to let them get too ripe as the texture becomes mealy, at which point they should only be used for making sauces. They look great in a mixed salad and I’ve used them for fried green tomatoes too. They are a tart tomato even when ripe and the texture is probably best slightly before they are slightly under ripe which makes them good frying tomatoes.
Yield and plant health: Germination was good and plant growth strong. Both indoor and outdoor tomatoes ripened well. Fruit didn’t suffer from splitting or blossom end rot. They are not blight resistant.
Grown again: I will grow these going forward as a fun novelty but wont dedicate large amounts of space to it.
Sow tomato seeds from January (for greenhouse/conservatory tomatoes) to April (outdoor tomatoes) and keep at a temperature of 18 a 20 degrees c. Germination should take 7 to 14 days.
I sow 6 seeds in a small seed tray, making sure there is at least an inch between seeds. I then cover with half a centimetre of vermiculite, water and place in a heated propagator in a location that receives plenty of light.
Once your tomatoes sprout the challenge is to give them sufficient light to stop them getting leggy. A sunny window ledge in a cool room, a heated conservatory or greenhouse kept above 12 degrees c are ideal. You will need to turn tomatoes grown on a window ledge often as they will grow towards the light. You can also use LED grow lights to supplement the light they get. Gently blowing the leaves daily may also encourage them to be more stocky.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle (2-4 leaves), transplant into individual 3 inch pots. Pot on as required. Plant out, 2-3 ft apart after al risk of frost has passed.
Cordon tomato plants require support from about 4 inches. They will then need further tying in as the plant grows. Pinch out the side shoots that grow between the stem and the leaves before they reach 2cm long. Take the tops off outdoor tomatoes after two trusses have set fruit. In unheated greenhouses after 4 trusses and in heated green houses, stop in September to allow remaining fruit to ripen.
When tomatoes are young keep the soil moist but not damp. Water from the base to reduce humid you around the leaves which encourages blight. As they start to fruit you will need to keep them consistently watered, daily if necessary to prevent fruit putting sudden spurts of growth on and splitting.