Alicante tomatoes are one the most popular tomato varieties that home gardeners grow. It’s reliable, delicious and dead easy to grow. Do you want your own tomatoes to bring success to the table?
What are Alicante Tomatoes?
Alicante tomatoes is a popular variety of red tomato. They are large and abundantly produced. They have a traditional tomato flavor and texture, and they are considered to be quite sweet.
These tomatoes were awarded the RHS Award for Garden Merit. They are considered a superior variety that gardeners novice and experienced alike can rely on.
Alicante tomatoes can be grown on support structures, but they are cordon-type tomato plants. They can reach a height of approximately 2m and a spread of 50cm.
Characteristics of Alicante Tomatoes
F1 OR OPEN POLLINATED?: Alicante Tomatoes are open-pollinated, and it will grow true from the saved seed.
GROWTH TYPE: Cordon, vigorous grower
WHERE TO GROW: Outdoors does very well and also in a greenhouse.
USE: Salads, sandwiches and as a cooker
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Deep red, medium thin skin
FLESH COLOUR: Red
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Traditional tomato texture and taste, cuts well
STORAGE: Exceptionally good for ripening on a window sill
TOMATO SIZE: Medium
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: A good yield is achieved by regularly cropping
Advantages of Growing Alicante Tomato
- Even for the least experienced gardener, they are more likely to germinate and produce a reliable crop.
- You can grow this tomato variety in a greenhouse, polytunnel or outside in a sunny spot.
- These seeds are a more affordable choice than F1 and are generally cheaper to buy.
- This variety is very common in the UK and it is easy to obtain seeds or plants.
- Open-pollinated varieties allow you to save your Alicante tomatoes’ seeds and not have to purchase more next year.
- These tomatoes are delicious and have a great texture. These tomatoes can be used raw or in various cooking methods. They are multi-purpose, which is a benefit over other tomato types that are limited to a specific use.
Disadvantages of Growing Alicante Tomato
- Alicante, like many tomato varieties, isn’t blight-resistant. It can also succumb to the fungal disease and face a variety of other problems. F1 varieties can sometimes be more resistant.
- This variety is very common so it may not be as exciting or enjoyable to grow as other heritage varieties. This variety is not as different from the store-bought varieties as other varieties.
- This type of cordon requires a support structure. It is more labor-intensive than a bush type.
- They are an early-cropping variety, but there are varieties that will produce more consistent yields in areas with shorter growing seasons.
Where To Grow Alicante Tomato Plants
This variety can be grown indoors or outdoors, as mentioned previously.
Cordon tomatoes can be grown in pots, but this tall and vigorous variety is not suitable for small-scale container gardening. It can, however, be grown in grow bags and other containers that are lower than a support structure to allow for cordoning as the plants grow.
Sowing Alicante Tomatoes
Alicante tomatoes, like other tomato varieties, are typically sown in late winter or early spring. Usually, they are sown between February and April in the UK. As mentioned above, for those who have not yet sown tomatoes this year, there is the option of choosing pot-grown starter plants. This can also be an option where it is difficult for you to sow seeds indoors before the last frost date in your area.
The key dates for sowing and planting out Alicante seeds are:
- Sow seeds in pots indoors 2nd week of March
- Pot up young plants – 2nd week of April
- Harden off young plants – 1st week of May
- Plant out young plants – 3rd week of May
Care Tips for Alicante Tomato Plants
Cordoning is a good way to grow some cordon tomatoes, but it’s not necessary.
Cordoning is simply the act of tying the plant to a stake, wire, or string as they grow. You can also pinch off any side shoots so that you are focusing on one central leader. A polytunnel that grows Alicante tomatoes should have wire between the crop bars. These wires should be tied with jute twine. As the tomatoes grow, tie them to this twine.
Planting Out Tomato Plant
Plant Alicante tomatoes by digging each plant a bit deeper into the soil than in its container. This encourages stronger root systems which is particularly important for cordoned tomatoes plants. Harden tomatoes that have been grown indoors and monitor the weather. Plant out only after the weather is stable and frost-free.
Watering the Tomato
It is important that you water your tomatoes deeply and less often than with other tomatoes. This will encourage the growth of stronger root systems. Watering at the base of the plants is better than watering from the top. Although late blight can be fatal in some cases, it is possible to reduce wetting and prevent severe infestations.
Alicante tomatoes are vigorous and very hungry. You must ensure that they have been provided with fertile growing conditions. Mulch tomatoes newly planted with comfrey and other potassium rich dynamic accumulation plants such as Chenopodium album (Lambsquarters/Fat hen).
The tomato plants should be fed a comfrey liquid food during flowering and again after the fruit have formed. It is better to use a fertilizer rich in potassium than one that is too high-in nitrogen for tomatoes. Excessive nitrogen can promote leaf growth, which can be detrimental to flowers and fruits.
Harvesting Alicante Tomato
Alicante tomatoes are ready to harvest from July and can often grow right through October. Be vigilant during the late summer and be aware of blight. Take tomatoes when they are mature. Once you’ve harvested the tomatoes, make sure you are keeping some and preserving them, and enjoy all year!
Save Alicante Tomato Seeds
Alicante is an open-pollinated heritage or heirloom tomato variety. This means that you can save your seeds to sow next year.
You can save the seeds by choosing a fully ripe, healthy red tomato. You can cut it open and scoop the seeds out into a small container of water. The seeds will mold if left in the water for a few more days. This allows the gelatinous seed coating of the seeds to begin to dissolve, increasing chances of successful germination.
Place the seeds in a sieve. Run it under the tap to remove any mould. Next, dry the seeds on a towel. Store the seeds in a paper bag in a cool dark place.
Green Alicante Tomatoes
It is possible that Alicante will produce green tomatoes at the end of the growing season. There are a few things you can do to ensure that green tomatoes ripen on your plant.
- To increase the temperature around tomatoes and to give them more protection.
- Place bananas or other ripening fruits under the tomato plants. They emit ethylene gas, which will cause tomatoes to ripen faster. If possible, cover the plants to concentrate this gas.
- Reduce watering
- Reduce lower leaves, remove new flowers, and trim tiny fruits that are unlikely to ripen in the given time.
- Give your tomato plants a quick tug to let them loosen their root. Focus on the fruit and ripening.
If all else fails, you can still ripen tomatoes indoors if they are fully sized and not too green. For the best flavor, keep them on the vine. Hang the plant upside down and place it somewhere warm. This will help speed up the process if there are other ripening fruits nearby.
If there aren’t any green tomatoes left at the end, it is worth remembering that they can be used in many different recipes. Two of the most popular options are green tomato salsa and green tomato chutney