Tomato Tales

Having had a mild panic last week with the tomatoes nearly dying, five of them have been transplanted. Think there are are dozen or so plants left to sink in the poly tunnel. Think the one’s in the photo’s are marmande, true black brandy wine, money maker and cream sausage. A majority of the plants are tall, and leafy; with some now starting to bloom and set trusses. The true black brandywine, is a heritage variety, a number of them are this year in fact; and that has just started to form fuzzy yellow flowers. These are quite different from your average tomato flower with its propeller blade shaped blooms. The plan is to sink the rest of the plants in the coming days having refreshed the soil a little. The tomatoes will then be bunk mates with potted chillies and maybe, maybe even this years aubergines that are only just getting a wiggle on.

First flush: Roses 2015

There are lots of roses on the plot. Over twenty at the last count. On the first half, we have the roses that we have labels for, we know vaguely what they are. On the second half however, contains roses that are lost label roses. I have no idea what their names are, or even what variety they are. What I do know, is that they are pretty. From what I remember, they are pretty in pink, but there are a few yellow ones in there.

These have now been on the plot for three years, so they are getting more established. In essence, the second half the plot, Project othello, has an avenue of roses and fruit trees that line the central path.

I am going to take it as good omen, that the roses are kicking off the growing season. Can’t eat them, no, but they do look pretty and add a spot of ambience to the plot.

First aloo harvest: Red Duke of York


I have somewhat lost patience with the poly tunnel potatoes. Whilst I understand that this is for an early crop, I am not sure  that I would repeat the exercise. The tiddly tiny crop, is a lovely shade of red. Rather matches Mum’s nail varnish. But ntot very big. I could have left them in a bit longer, I realise that. But the room is needed for tomatoes and chillies now, so they didn’t stand a chance really. The ground is to be refreshed with a spot of farmyard manure, and the tomatoes are going in as soon as possible.

plant out day: Squashes and beans

With the end of May, being the closing of our frost window; today was plant out day. This was the result of plants being hardened off over the last week or so in quiet anticipation. Plus the plants were starting to get a bit too big to be stashed in the 4TB.

First thing first, three of the metre square beds had to be filled up, these were filled with well decayed farmyard manure. Then, sixteen squash plants, yes, sixteen, have been sunk. There’s half and half split, with some being plugged into raised beds, with the others being plugged into open ground. These were the seeds sown the second time around as the first batch had become cold and damp. Compared to what squashes have looked like at the same time in previous years, they are a bit smaller. I haven’t managed to sow and germinate pumpkins or butternut squashes, so this may be a jet episode.

Next came the beans. We had about thirty plants. These were the traditional scarlet emperor runner bean, as well as cobra and blue lake french climbing bean. All of these three varieties have in the past been very productive. I have another tray sat on the window sill germinating, so I may need to make some more wig wams at somepoint.

Preserving pan playing




Over the weekend mum and I have been playing with the jam pan. Hoping to get over the runny jellies from before, we used this opportunity to get things right. Plus with all the soft fruit on the plot; this was something of a dress rehearsal for when do have excess crops that we don’t know what to do with. There was a fair bit of rhubharb on the plots so this has been used for two preserves.

We have also learned how to use powdered pectin properly. Rhubarb, raspberries and strawberries aren’t full of pectin. So it was somewhat necessary for set preserves. There were two jellies made as well as two jams. Chutneys and chilli jams are on the schedule in the coming weeks.

soft fruit flowers

pears raspberryfloower

The fruit trees were positively frilly with blossom. The blossom has long since disappeared with the wind, and it is now possible to see whether or not the fruit has set. The concorde pear tree, which has til now had not a lot going for it; does appear have set something. Not many nobbly bits are visible on the otherwise quite leafy tree. But they are there. The braeburn, falstaff and worcester pearmain are also showing signs of fruit setting.

Then there are the raspberries. Now, we have a number of different varieties, which span the growing season. What you see is the first flower on the summer fruiting canes. Not many of the all season collection have sent out green shoots and runners. So it was a surprise to see a white bloom. I know that the canes have to be so old before they send out shoots and runners. All of the canes are what I believe to be two years old.

The varieties that I have are:

  • Tulameen
  • Malling Jewel
  • Glen Cova
  • fall gold
  • Autumn bliss

The latter two are the autumnal ones. Sadly, I can’t remember which bed had which other summer raspberries in. I have also seen the autumn raspberries start to develop white blooms. A bit early, but I won’t argue with mother nature. I remember last year that the autumn bliss were really an abundant cropper, even with two single canes.

Rosemary re-homing

Mum has rather successfully cultivated two epic sized rosemary bushes. And they were taking over the garden path. So armed with my fork, she dug them up. We then trundled down to the plot with them. Again, she took up a gardening spade and dug two holes to plug them in.

There was a lot rosemary fragrance wafting around.



The runner beans and climbing beans have germinated and shot up. I think I might need to harden them off in the coming week. This means having to build a frame at somepoint as well. Debating at this moment, whether I would like to sow more. I have scarlet emperor, cobra and blue lake in the picture, and about dozen plants each. They are very productive, when they get going, that is what I do know.

tomato tears…almost

Had a spot of drama today. Hadn’t been able to go down to the plot for a few days, so karma turned around and bit me. My previously pride of joy tomatoes had dehydrated in the heat of the wendy house. Whilst it is ventilated, these were still fleeced so cooked. I did feel a big stomach flip, and sadness, at having possibly lost them. Emergency hydration was required. These are all currently sat in a lot of water in the poly tunnel. I did check them this afternoon, and they were starting to revive.

I can safely say, that my heart did sink. One of them, is a gonner with the main stem. But did have side shoots; so this may be a saving grace. I have learned my lesson. Not to leave them so long. They started out being pampered and precious, this will have to be the case once again!