Tomato Black Russian?



Hi everyone I'm looking for a bit of advise on the strain of tomato I have selected this year and was wondering if anyone had any experience with this strain of plant. I have planted 31 seeds and every one germinated and all of them bar one is establishing itself into a vigorous plant. I wanted to try something that I haven't grown before and something that would be a good pick for the UK weather as I grow outdoors but I'm new to tomatoes. I selected tomato black Russian for my main-crop. I did some research and this seems to be a perfect selection to withstand our dodgy climate and the tomatoes are said to be a good one for canning and also eaten off the vine and are said to have a somewhat smokey and good combination of sweet to acid ratio. They are said to have an old school flavor and were developed in Russia. I started them off in individual pots around 2 months ago then re potted them into larger pots around 6 or 7 inches tall around 2 weeks ago and ever since they have shot up and are now all about a foot or more tall. I keep them in windowsills at the moment and don't get 8 hours full intense sun but seem OK. The compost I used was one that said it had up to six weeks of feed in it but I'm not sure if I should feed them now as I was told this strain is a very greedy feeder so should I supplement the feed and if so what is a good organic feed? How often should I be feeding? and what are the signs  over and under watering? When should I start hardening them off and for how long before I start to leave them out all night? Does anyone know if this strain has resistance to some fungal problems I keep reading about we get over here in the UK? I live in the midlands in Derbyshire. Any advice will be appreciated thanx



  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Hi Christopher! I grew Black Russian here in Switzerland last year in my raised bed and was very pleased with them, grew well and were very tasty. They are indeterminate, i.e. get quite tall so need staking and breaking out the side shoots. Do NOT feed them until the first trusses of tomatoes appear and use tomato fertilizer, I think it's called Tomorite in the UK. Water sparingly, too wet is not good.

    I'm growing 4 different sorts this year just for the hell of it. They are now in 4" pots and about 6" tall and I have had them outside since about two weeks. I move them out into the sun during the day and under cover of the pergola roof at night. I will not plant mine out until about mid-May, although I have a home-made tomato house.

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Also, have a look here, very useful advice:


  • SwissSue Thank you for your reply I think ill start to put mine out on sunny days now then and Bring them in when its starts to cool down. The place I got my seeds from claims they can produce up to seven kilograms of tomatoes per plant and this seems a lot to me is that an accurate estimation or is it a bit far fetched? I have just planted some Amish paste tomatoes and they came up today. I don't Know if I'm a little late on those to get a good crop but time will tell. Thanx for the link ill check that out now

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Well, I think 7 kg per plant is stretching it a bit, you'd have to have at least 7 full trusses on it which might put a bit of strain on the plant, but I guess it depends on how happy it is, so you'll just have to wait and see!image Good luck!

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,353

    I've grown them for a few years in a cold greenhouse in central UK and they do quite well producing about 3kg per plant with some individual fruits up to about 3-400g.  They grow well outside in a good summer but, like any 'outdoor capable' tomato grown in the UK, in a poor wet summer they will produce a poor crop and likely get blight, so fingers crossed for decent weather this year! image  Sue is right - due to the weight of the fruits they do need good support so make sure you tie them with a soft twine or similar material which won't cut into the stems.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • I grew these last year for the first time and also Gardeners Delight which is my usual crop. I grew them in a cold greenhouse and was astonished at the quantity of tomatoes that appeared. The plants needed far more room than Gardeners Delight and a lot of support - these tomatoes are huge and heavy. They need a lot of support as not only are the tomatoes themselves huge and heavy but they grow away like trees. A cork on the end of the stakes is essential to avoid eye damage!

    They seemed to be more resistant to blight than Gardeners Delight and have a really gorgeous flavour - we were all very impressed and I shall definitely grow them again next year. This year I am trying my usual G Delight but also Maskotka and Roma as I make a lot of pasta sauces and am particularly addicted to tomato based sauces. I was going to grow Black Russian this year but could not obtain the seeds in time. However, I shall definitely do so next year.

  • iGrowiGrow Posts: 183
    I can't believe that you liked the variety so much that you could not sacrifice one fruit to save your own seed...
  • SwissSueBobTheGardenerSylvia Woolhouse Thanx for the cork trick that's a good idea as we are always inspecting our plants. I will make sure that I give my plants plenty of room to get the best out of them and if I manage to ripen them I will be collecting the seeds from my strongest biggest tomatoes. I've also germinated just a few Amish paste tomatoes to see what they are like. Back to the support thing would canes be sufficient if I make kind of a fence type structure on both sides of my plants going up the rows with supports every foot or so up  and tie the stems to this with soft string?

  • MelspadMelspad Posts: 73

    I don't tend to start my tomatoes off until April, my first lot are up and producing their first true leaf, but the others should be shooting through by Easter.  I was interested to read about the Black Russian as I am growing them for the first time this year - try a new variety every year.  Last year I grew (amongst others) Hungarian Strawberry, and was thrilled with the quality and taste.  Saved my own seeds and they are growing well.  Also tried Ildi, a small yellow tomato, that produces more tomatoes on each truss than you could ever imagine, so growing them again this year.  My trusty Sungold and Costa DeVoluta are also being grown.  Like you Sylvia I make loads of what I call 'Tommy Gunge'.  Just take out the majority of seeds and render down with garlic and herbs, then freeze in plastic containers and use in all my stews and curries.  So delicious and not at all bitter, but sweet and lovely.  Hope you have a good crop Christopher.  I always grow Tagetes in pots in the greenhouse and never have problems with pests.

  • INNAINNA Posts: 3


    Hello Christopher. My parents live in Latvia and have a big allotment with two greenhouses, where they grow different verities of tomatoes and papers, including Black Russian tomatoes too. They never grew tomatoes outdoor considering that the summer in Latvia is warmer, more sunny days, than in the UK. Black Russian can grow very tall, about 2 metres and weight of one tomato can be 400 grams.  

  • MelspadeINNA MC wow 2 meters I wish we could let ours grow that tall over here I don't think we get enough warm sunny days over here. Thats probably why it says you can get 7kg per plant where I got my seeds. 

  • Christopher...........I first grew Black Russian toms in the mid 90's..........lovely variety if you have the space............excellent flavour and large fruit  .....better than Marmande in my opinion. 

  • philippa smith2 Hi yes by the sounds of it there big plants but that's OK as I haven't got a huge garden but its big enough to grow about 30- 40 plants without giving up to much space to grow all the other veg and fruit I grow. I really pack my garden with plants but I put the tallest at the back and the smallest up front so to maximize the sunlight to all the plants. Onions start up front and at the back will be the tomatoes not many weeds survive in my garden when everything is established lol. But everything produces well and it helps keep the soil warm in cool spells and cool during heatwaves it also keeps the moisture in during the worst droughts too. Its the first time tomatoes will be grown in my garden but I think they will do fine if we get some nice weather and it doesn't rain for months on end

  • Can someone tell me what leaders are I just saw an article that said  Thirty days before last frost prune leaders to ripen. I know what suckers are but what are leaders? are these the tips of the side shoots?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,742

    What article was that?  I would have expected it to say 30 days before FIRST frost prune leaders to ripen.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    Leaders are the main stems with the growing tips. It's common practice to restrict plants to two leaders.

    I'm a bit baffled by the last frost advice, too.

  • DovefromaboveItalophile  I think they may mean first frost as it doesn't make senceimage

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    Christopher, I grew Amish Paste years ago back in Sydney to try them out. They're a meaty but pretty bland variety, not a lot of juice. Best for use in sauces.

    You only need a single, sturdy stake to support each plant. They come in all sorts these days, including aluminium. I stick to timber for sturdiness, and, for plants that I know to be big blokes, use 7' stakes. The bottom foot to 18" of it is driven into the soil for a solid anchor. For tying up, try to use something with a bit of give in it. Tying too tightly with a rigid material risks cutting into a stem as it grows and develops in size.

    If you're thinking of saving seeds from one of your pure varieties, be aware of the potential for cross-pollination. If you've got plants adjacent to each other, and insect activity, cross-pollination is on the cards.

    It's a good idea to "bag" the fruit you want to save seeds from. I buy packets of those ankle-length tights/stockings things. Cut off the bottom 3 or 4 inches so the toe-end creates the bag.

    Select a truss of flowers. The key is to do this before any of the flowers open. Once open, they are vulnerable to foraging insects. Nip off any foliage on or around the truss that will end up inside the bag. Any foliage you leave will only grow inside the bag and crowd things.

    Slip the bag over the truss, enclosing all the flowers, and tie it closed around the stem. Don't tie too tightly, just secure the bag to the stem. If you see any foliage developing inside the bag, slip it off and remove the foliage.

    The bag only stays in place until you see that one or more of the flowers has set fruit. Once the fruit has set, there's no more danger of cross-pollination. Remove the bag and nip off any flowers that didn't set fruit. Importantly, tie something like some coloured thread or wool to the truss to identify it as the one you bagged. By the time you come to harvest the bagged fruit to save the seed, the plant will have grown, changed shape, and you'll never know which truss was bagged. As I know to my cost.

    Not all flowers set fruit so it's a good idea to bag several trusses on a plant to increase your chances.


  • I grew them last year fab looking but all got blossom end rot, think I got 1 and wasn't that fussed with the flavour 

  • Italophile Thanx for that advice I will do as you said to ensure I get pure seed I'm also going to cross some to see what I get as a result that is if I don't have a disaster and something takes them all out 

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