Ailsa Craig tomato
Ailsa Craig tomato is an old English Heirloom variety which originates from the Scottish island with the same name. Produces bright red, rounded tomatoes with delicious sweet flavour with a slight acidic tomato aftertaste.
The plants are strong, prolific and very reliable and they produce a large amount of tomatoes. They weigh around 30 – 70 grams. An early ripening tomato that can handle fairly ordinary spring weather. An indeterminate that needs staking.
2021/22 season: Sown Aug 5, planted outside Oct 21, ripening began early January. Bulk harvest in Feb. Was one of the few plants that was not protected from snowfall in mid Nov and pushed through. Would ripen earlier in seasons with better spring weather.
Sow – Start on a heat mat ideally in late August to October and plant out after frost risk and soils around 10 deg at night (after 7 days consecutively).
Can start earlier if planting in a hothouse. 8 weeks on average from sowing to planting if using a heat-mat.
Spacing – 60-100cm
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- The wild ancestor of the tomato is native to western South America. These wild versions were the size of peas. Aztecs and other peoples in Mesoamerica were the first to have domesticated the fruit and used in their cooking.
- The Spanish first introduced tomatoes to Europe, where they became used in Spanish food.
- In France, Italy and northern Europe, the tomato was initially grown as an ornamental plant. It was regarded with suspicion as a food because botanists recognized it as a nightshade, a relative of the poisonous belladonna.
- This was exacerbated by the interaction of the tomato’s acidic juice with pewter plates.
- The leaves and immature fruit contains tomatine, which in large quantities would be toxic. However, the ripe fruit contains no tomatine.