Tomato Principe Borghese

The weather in the UK is rarely good enough to sun dry tomatoes but having recently bought a dehydrator I decided to grow some tomatoes specifically bread for sun drying. Principe Borghese is a cherry size, plum shaped. Italian tomato that ripens early. I’ve grown in indoors and in the poly tunnel with equal success. It’s thin skin and few seeds make it a good candidate for drying. It’s a bush tomato but as its quite prolific you may need to give it some support, especially to lift the tomatoes off the ground.

Eating: Unusually for a plum it’s quite nice eat raw as it is not floury. However, it’s thin skin and lack of seeds however make it ideal for drying or making tomato paste. This makes it very versatile if you don’t have room to grow many tomatoes.

Yield and plant health: Plants are easy to grow from seed but you will need to start them in a heated propagator or warm place indoors and it might take a little longer than other tomatoes. Yield is good but its thin skins mean it can damage easily so be especially careful picking when very ripe, you may end up with a tomato explosion. Principe Borghese is not resistant to blight.

Grow again: Every year

Growing:

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 propegator 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.