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5 Top Tomatoes

With an enormous array of different varieties, how do you choose the ones that are best for you?  For many, that dilemma stops them enjoying the delights and incomparable taste and scent of freshly picked, homegrown tomatoes. 

Originally from warmer regions such as Mexico and the Mediterranean, tomatoes that do well in our northern climates have had to develop and adapt to our lower temperatures and light levels.    Here we're focusing on 5 varieties which are firm favourites in East Lothian and flourish in our local conditions. 

Read on or click here to shop our tomato plants

Gardener’s Delight

Possibly our best-selling tomato, the fruits of this variety are larger than most other cherry tomatoes making them ideal for slicing into salads or sandwiches.  A long-standing favourite over many decades, Gardener’s Delight is a reliable variety that produces prolific crops even in our cooler Scottish climate.  Although it can be grown outdoors in a sheltered, sunny position, best results will be achieved if some cover can be provided.


Holder of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Garden Merit (AGM), this yellow/orange fruit is consistently voted as the sweetest tomato. In East Lothian it can be grown in open ground or in containers.  A prolific cropper, it also has good disease resistance making it a reliable choice.   It is a versatile fruit with many uses from salads to roasting, but always tastes best when eaten straight from the vine!

Tumbling Tom

For those who have limited space, Tumbling Tom is your ideal variety being generally regarded as the best variety to grow in hanging baskets.  Requiring minimal expertise, this compact variety is perfect for first-time tomato growers. Popular for its tasty, sweet fruit, you can choose between the classic Tumbling Tom (Red) or opt for its cousin, the Tumbling Tom (Yellow) variety.

Ailsa Craig

We couldn’t talk about popular local varieties of tomato without mentioning Ailsa Craig, possibly the most popular Scottish Heritage variety.  Introduced about 100 years ago, it is still popular today because of its amazing mouthwatering flavour.  Whilst other varieties might have stronger stems or produce more fruit, the rich, tangy and sweet flavour of Ailsa Craig has kept its popularity because of its exceptional flavour.
Like many flavours of depth it takes time to develop and with our relatively short season in Scotland, providing cover extends the season allowing time for its unique flavour to fully mature.



It was very difficult to select only 5 from the many excellent varieties but we had to include Shirley for her ability to tolerate lower temperatures.  This salad tomato grows well in unheated greenhouses or in a sheltered, sunny location.  It produces fruit earlier- and for longer - than many other varieties and with good disease resistance it is a good choice in our northern latitudes.


Although each of the varieties mentioned above has been selected for a particular characteristic, there are many others that offer their own unique properties and our experienced Plant Team are only too happy to help you choose the variety that’s best for you.

Cultivation notes

We always suggest that you consider the natural habitat when deciding how to care for a plant. 
Tomatoes, being from southern climates, enjoy growing where they have full sun and good shelter. 
Watering is critical to successful tomato growing and it must be regular and consistent otherwise split (and consequently diseased) fruit can follow.
Feeding is also essential in producing a good crop.  Once the fruits start to form, feed regularly with a feed designed for tomatoes as it will have the right combination of nutrients that the plant requires.
Cordon tomatoes (those that grow upright on a single stem) need support from a wire or cane and sideshoots (the little shoots that grow where the leaf meets the main stem) should be pinched out to ensure that water and nutrients go to the main stem and fruit.


As always, we cannot possibly cover everything relating to home-grown tomatoes in this column.  If you need further information, you’ll find help on our website at, or pop in and have a chat with our experienced Plant Team who’ll be more than happy to help you.


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