We all love growing tomatoes, those sweet, juicy fruits of summer. They are slow-growing, so sow seed now if you haven’t already done so.

There’s always a much wider choice of seeds than plants to buy. But these South American plants are frost-tender and always need heat, preferably about 20C. Although you can easily put a seed tray on a window sill, young plants need the extra light of a greenhouse or conservatory to grow on.

So, how do you choose a variety from the dazzling array on offer?

Where you live and what warmth, shelter and sunlight

you have determines the most suitable type of plant. The world’s your oyster if your garden is in a sunny, sheltered spot. You’ll be well placed to enjoy a steady, summer-long succession of whatever you fancy.

There are two main types of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate ones grow to a predetermined size, fruit and die back. Bush varieties do this, while indeterminate ones are grown as cordons and could keep going till felled by frost.

Home-grown tomatoes ripen from June till October and, like their relatives, potatoes, mature at different speeds. So, with careful planning you could have a succulent succession from seed all sown at the same time.

One golden rule of tomato-growing is: the smaller the plant, the quicker it grows to maturity. Bush tomatoes are also usually fairly small-fruited, so come early, while dwarf varieties, like Tumbling Tom, produce tiny nibble-worthy delights by early June. We have one in the greenhouse placed so you can’t pass without a surreptitious graze.

My polytunnel accommodates larger bush varieties, poised to harvest from July till late August. Living 200m up in the Borders, the sun isn’t strong enough to let me grow them outdoors, but you could manage in a lower, more sheltered place. You might even be one of the few Scots able to grow cordons successfully outdoors but, like the rest of us, will probably get better results in a greenhouse. Inevitably, larger beefsteaks like Big Daddy ripen too slowly for me, but they are delicious.

As you browse through the seemingly endless list of varieties, you might be tempted to try some of the more exotic colours on offer, like Indigo Blue or yellow Gazy. But don’t try out more than one new variety at a time: many of them don’t get a high score on my flavour test.

Perhaps inevitably, every new catalogue variety is the tastiest ever. Tomato flavour depends on a balance of acid and sweet and this is only partly dependant on the variety. How you grow them is probably more important.

I’ve noticed over the years that home-made compost with its fertility topped up with pelleted or liquid comfrey produces the tastiest results. [www.organiccatalogue.com]. The plants thrive better in living soil, crammed with micro-organisms.

In a mini trial last year, I compared the new Sylvagrow compost from Melcourt with my own compost and another commercial organic brand. Sylvagrow cropped nearly as well as mine, but flavour was poorer. New Horizons performed appallingly. On both fronts

Even if you don’t have enough of your own compost for all your tomatoes, try mixing some with a good peat-free commercial variety. Which? Gardening assesses commercial composts every year, and be warned, they can differ from season to season.

Watering is also important. Overwatered plants are often less flavoursome, but inadequate or uneven watering in pots and especially growbags, stresses the plants and may cause blossom end rot, a condition where a hard dark blotch forms at the blossom point of the fruit.

Plant of the week

Peach Peregrine blossom. Grown in a greenhouse, the blossom of peach Peregrine fills the space with an exquisite fragrance. Hand pollinate for a good crop if there are no bumble bee queens available.