IT WAS a summer battle where all the contestants were in the red corner. And there was a clear winner among the contenders, both in my opinion, and all that tried a truly tasty tomato.

I planted seven varieties this year, tried and tested ones against new toms on the block, and Ruby Falls was a clear victor. Ruby Falls, in the Dobies Rob Smith range, not only tastes the biz — it looks it too with a deep red colour and greeny-black shoulders.

It looks very similar to another of my modern faves, Rosella, produced by Thompson and Morgan, which also has even more intense flavour when cooked.

Rob discovered it at a specialist breeder and decided it was worthy of a wider gardening audience.

He has a range of new and heritage varieties and this year I was lucky enough to be able to grow just a single plant from old Stanley Jackson’s contribution to gardening history, Queen of Hearts.

Just one of Stanley’s seed, which I had saved for several years, popped up its head and has produced a good crop of beautifully formed heart-shaped fruit which he hybridised as a love token for his wife.

It has a lovely non-woolly consistency and subtle taste, not unlike Moneymaker, which I also tried again this year — but to my abused palate, I like something a little sweeter and more acid too.

In the beefsteak stakes, tomatoes are often produced for texture rather than taste, but the Italsementi tomato Costoluto Fiorentino has proved tastier than most of its kind this year.

l Stalwarts of the charity National Garden Scheme, John and Christine Harrison, open the lovely gardens at Northcourt Manor, Shorwell, on Sunday, from noon to 5pm.