Tag Archives: gardeners delight

To talk tomatoes #gdnbloggers

It’s okay, I am not thinking about sowing them; it is still too early, and I am inclined to wait at least another four weeks before I start sorting out runners and riders. Even then, I will be thinking about tomatoes and their sixth cousin, the aubergine. For now, I am thinking and reflecting on what might be whilst taking stock of what has already been experienced on the plot.

In 20 16, thirty two plants made it passed the initial seed and germination stage. Think these were sown in late february-most likely started off in the heated prop-as by March, the seedlings had already sent out their baby seed leaves and were about to send out their frilly first true leaves. These were then pampered and kept safe at home on a window sill so that the might establish and be sufficiently robust enough to be planted out. As you can see, we had a fair bit of fruit. Trouble is, very few turned red on the vine. In addition, there were fairly early blight warnings that led to plants being stripped of fruit and cast aside before it struck. Blight struck tomatoes are not particularly pleasant to look at; a putrid shade of puce and stomach turning. This has meant that much of the crop is ripened at home, somewhere warm and light. Ripening does happen eventually, it just takes some time to get going.

You’d think a red tomato was a red tomato. On the contrary, there are  many different varieties, each with their own unique qualities that determine productivity, attractiveness to the taste buds and what you might eventually do with the end product. Not all tomatoes are red, and I have sown and grown some rather nice yellow ones as well. Also, you get the odd ugly one that is really quite amusing. Doesn’t look particularly attractive, but that does nothing to hamper the taste. Food becomes that more interesting when it’s not perfect, but beautifully ugly. You can still eat it after all, there is no supermarket or political mandate as to how your fruit and veg might look. Wonky, uglu fruit and veg is something to shout about and not to be dismissed. (Trust me, I once wondered why I had curly beans; turns out they were never straight to begin with.)

The very first variety that ever tried was a cherry tomato called ‘Minibel’ and that was a fairly simple, straight forward introduction to growing tomatoes. Since then, I have decided to experiment and sown quite a few different varieties. Such as:

  • Latah
  • Money maker
  • Gardeners delight
  • Cream sausage
  • Tigerella
  • Marmade
  • Aisla Craig
  • black cherry
  • Yellow Stuffer
  • Brandywine
  • Shirley.

And those are the ones that I can remember, there is probably a list somewhere. These have been used in salads, Indian dishes; I even made a sage and tomato soup that was rather nice. I am still a little curious about beefsteak varieties though; I rather like marmande with it’s tendency to be sizeable with rather intriguing green shoulders. Brandywine tomatoes are something that I might look into a little further; these take time and with mega-bloom like flowers the development of fruit is somewhat delayed; that or I like something of a quick response when it comes to tomatoes. I have definitely noted the lower yield with these as well; it is much lower than other varieties and I suspect this is why I haven’t made many sowings in recent years.

It would be entirely odd to not have tomatoes on the allotment. I tend to transplant them into raised beds, occasionally they might get plugged into the open ground. I do find however, that productivity is somewhat hampered with the clay, so raised beds are a safer, more equitable bet. I did try transplanting into the poly tunnel; alas, that was a learning curve. We had triffids, yes, but not many tomato fruit. So back we went outside with all subsequent tomato growing.

As mentioned above, there are no plans to sow any tomatoes yet. The heated prop is currently full, and I am going to wait a short while. This allows me to have a look at the tomato seeds and see which ones are going to be sown. Marmade may well feature, but I also fancy trying Roma VF alongside.  I have not sown and grown this variety before, and a request was made by a sibling that we could try a plum variety.

We can talk tomatoes, but we’re not sowing them just yet.

Tomato explosion

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The heat and light has caused something of an tomato explosion. There have been increasing number of yellow flowers. Some of they quite dainty, others such as the beefsteak are fuzzy little things. The citrina tomatoes are cute. Little lemon shaped things, compared to the beautifully ugly marmande ones.

Team Tomato

Over the last few weeks, these darlings have been battered and bruised by the wind and rain. I had thought, that they would all cease to exist. So much so, additional reinforcements of cherokee, brandywine, citrina, sunstripe and another yellow one have been called in. There are smaller specimens of katiebell, lizziebell, luciebell and flamingo

The plants are on a spectrum of leafiness and healthiness. To be fair, I always suffer this developmental delay on planting out. They simply don’t like the windy heavy clay. That said, once they get a bit robust, have been fed a bit; they start to unfurl themselves, One thing is for certain, they are not pretty. The conditions make them battle hardened and haggard. The leaves have a spikey quality to them. Some are in open ground, some are positioned in raises beds. There is on, singular, black cherry, is in the poly tunnel by way of experiment.

That does, make for a lot of tomatoes. A few of which are starting to flower. Have arm pitted a few times, the gardeners delight and moneymaker. I know, that for some, these are generic, yucky tomato varieties. In the first time that I am growing these, I shall see just how yucky they might be.

Looking forward to the yellow, and pink ones, as well as the green and red stripey things. But the whoppers, have to be the marmande, cherokee and brandywine’s. Big wibbly tomatos, that you don’t get in the shops.

Taking chances

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Am taking chances with the tomatoes and putting them into the 4TB. They will be nestled within fleece, this will hopefully protect them whilst allowing them grow a bit more hardy. I know that they are still quite small, and we may still get a frost. The 4TB does however get quite warm at the moment. Have just taken out a tray of squashes and cukes, they were wonderfully warm. There are still three very tiny tomato babies still being held in side. Will keep an eye on the 4TB over the next few days, just in case.

Tiddler tomatoes 2014

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This years tomato babies are only just starting to get their proper leaves. Some of them are a little bit taller than expected; didn’t quite pot them up as well as I could have. Also they are stretching towards the light a bit. I am debating putting them into the 4TB; mainly as it is still quite cold at night. Should I then cover them with a fleece and leave them to it?

Debating this morning as to whether I should modularise running beans and broadies. All too eager….

Go, little greenhouse

Finally, the cover for the 4TB has arrived. A little bigger than expected, but that is a lot better than smaller. I had purchased one that did turn out to be smaller, and of no use. This may be bigger, but it is also made of the same reinforced material as the wendy house and the poly tunnel. I am hoping, therein, that it lasts a while. That said, the cover that was replaced is in fact five years old. Apparently, the shop that made the 4TB has changed the dimensions, so I couldn’t an appropriate replacement. That said, to their credit, the company was very good about making amends. In the poly tunnel yesterday, it was a rather balmy twenty degrees. The best thing, that it was still there, and hadn’t floated off. The wendy house was there also, for which we are also thankful. The lyon prizewinner leeks are still there and quite snug too.

Tomatoes aren’t doing too badly at the moment. The vast majority of the seeds that were modularised have come through. The module was sat on the not very warm window sill, and so they did take their time. The babies were also a little leggy, which resulted in them having to be demodularised and then potted up. No mean feat, as I am not very good at pricking out and potting up. Which is why, I only sank singular seeds to begin with. In essence, at the moment, we have the same number of tomato plants as we did last year. It remains to be seen, if these will all achieve maturity.

On the next window sill, we have the the aubergines. Dancer, diamond, tres hative de barbentane  and black beauty have all come through. I am still waiting for early long purple to germinate. There was a pleasant surprise in how quickly the aubergine seeds have come up.

Of the chillies and superhots, I have yet to see any of yellow scotch bonnet and orange habanero. Fire has been temporarily written off in failing to come off entirely. The dorset naga looked a bit precarious, having caught a cold; it looked as though it was going to keel over. I checked this afternoon, and it did appear to have rallied. I’m not hedging my bets. I would like it to survive, one has a dorset naga chilli challenge to try! Have resown some california wonder, as i had somewhat neglected to re-sow a sweet pepper. All those hot chillies, and no sweetness. One is thinking of all the possible chilli jam to be made.

I have kept all the babies in foodbag cloches. Mainly, as they are on window sills that don’t always stay warm. With some heat and light trapped, the cloche offers something of a security blanket. I am conscious that a sudden drop in temperature could wipe everything out. I would like to place the tomato babies in the 4TB, under a fleece. Just not sure if they would survive, would be a tragedy for them to be annihilated after being pampered for so long.

Tomato progess

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I had a peek yesterday at the modularised tomato seeds, and found a few babies had germinated and were actually a little leggy. In order to prevent the legginess from increasing and causing them to keel over, I have potted them up today up to their baby leaves. All being well, the stem will send out some stabilising roots and the babies will become a little more solid and robust. There were quite a few modularised, but only ten babies have come up so far. Hopefully, a few more will come through. I did see a couple of contenders coming through their seed cases.

At the moment, there are babies belonging to aisla craig, yellow stuffer, black cherry, marmande and gardeners delight. These are of course a very early sowing, and the danger remains that these will be cold and keel over. The plan is, to keep them inside for a short while, and then transfer to the 4TB once that has had it’s cover replaced. I am always some what saddened when baby seedlings keel over.

Last year, I didn’t label them, or separate them out as seedlings, They were transplanted outside and into raised beds. This year, we have labels, and I deliberately didn’t sow lots and lots. I’m not very good at pricking them out, so the potting up process was done with care and very slowly. it will be interesting to see which ones are the most productive. Depending on how many grow, it may be possible to carry out a further experiment. Half the cohort could be once again placed outside into raised beds, with the other half grown in the poly tunnel if there is enough room. Last year, there was a bumper crop of tomatoes, they all remained green and had to be ripened indoors. Based purely on the appearance, I think marmande was the most prolific. If there is the same level of cropping, it might be useful to have a recipe for a relish or chutney.