Tag Archives: heritage

Tomatoes on my mind

 

It’s that time of the year again. I’m thinking about what tomatoes to grow. At the moment, I have a handful of chillies, growing very slowly and pretty much left to their own devices. They are relatively happy, so it’s logical to think of the next phase of sowing.

There are tonnes and tonnes of tomato varieties out there, and I’ve certainly collected a few varieties to have them in my seedbox. These have all been road tested in different forms over the years, so choosing the annual crop is actually quite challenging.

I’ve gravitated away from the dwarf, bushy varieties that produce cherry type tomatoes. This was, in the first instance, about sowing something different. Cherry tomatoes are certainly a good starting point; they are easy growing, abundant and offer a tasty harvest. As a salad tomato, they do serve a purpose and are quite effective plate fillers. I grew a variety called Minibel for a long time, and I suspect I will try another cherry tomato in the future at some point.

Seeds have been located, and wait to be sorted in my seed box. There are standard seeds such as Gardener’s delight and money maker; varieties that have been part of the GYO armada for many, many years. There are also heritage varieties; tomatoes that for one reason another, we don’t find in supermarkets, that are older in origin. I find these varieties really interesting, particularly when it comes to the Beefsteak types. In my experience, these are slow-growing and the crop is quite small. The plant puts so much power into a handful of whopper fruits, you need quite plants to have a substantial harvest.

Heritage tomatoes also open your world up to different shapes, sizes and colours of tomato. My favourite non-red tomato, has to be yellow stuffer. This, when combined with sweet yellow peppers, makes a fantastic chutney. You won’t find yellow tomatoes very often in the supermarket or fruit and veg markets, so growing your own is rather magical. I need to get some more yellow stuffer seeds, I rather fancy making that chutney again! We shall see if yellow brandy wine, yellow pear and cream sausage are in anyway comparable.

There are two varieties that I know I will definitely have on my list. These would be Marmande and Roma. I have found that Marmande is a brilliant cropper; it is wonderfully abundant. Roma is  a plum tomato, really very resilient and also a good cropper. In sorting out seeds, I did stumble across tomatillo seeds as well. I’ve been meaning to  sow these, as an experiment to see if they would actually work. I’m rather intrigued as to how this small piece of Mexico might take off in the middle of England.

You might ask, how many different plants does any one allotment need. All of the tomatoes that are grown will get used. Be it in chutney, salads or used in the base of Indian dishes.  Growing different varieties, having lots of plants does make for an interesting experiment, and any extras do got to good home.

At some point this week, I will take the plunge and sow tomato seeds. As with all the seedlings, I will be keeping an eye on them in case we have a cold snap. In comparison to the chillies, tomatoes do tend to be more resilient and less susceptible to keeling over-she says, crossing her fingers- but do need monitoring anyway. They do grow quickly and will need potting up as they develop. It will be late May before anything is planted outside to they will need to be hardened off in time.

I do tend to grow tomatoes outdoors, with no cover. I did try to cultivate them in a polytunnel, but found that they became leafy and didn’t crop that well. With being outdoors, plants are exposed to pollinators and the winds. There is a lower level of maintenance too. You do get cordon/indeterminate tomato varieties, those that need shoots removing. I have defoliate plants when there has been a lot of foliage to help ventilation. Having too much foliage can also be a product of what you feed and water the plans with as well. So make sure to see what is in the make up of any fertiliser if you are using it.

More Bollywood than gardener!

It’s been such a long time since I last donned anything remotely bollywood. I was feeling a bit wistful, and remembering some of the outfits that I have worn. These are three saris that I loved wearing and are rather special to me. Purple, as my favourite colour. Pink and polka dots was something of a vintage look, and a green one that I could just about breathe in.

 

No, I don’t wander down the plot wearing these. Wouldn’t go with the red wellingtons, now would they!

 

@MarshallsSeeds Heritage Garlic update

There is allegedly some rather nasty weather forecast for the Easter weekend. However, Good Friday has so far presented itself as being fair. There has been pottering around done today, but I have also  been double checking the heritage garlic provided by Marshalls.

You can also find the youtube version here.

The varieties are as follows:

  • Garlic Bohemian Rose
  • Mikulov
  • Red Duke

With the drier weather, the garlic appears to be doing well. It has most certainly taken root and the foliage is rather lush and green. It does have some level of resilience and should survive well. It will be really nice to see how this crop progresses and to have a good crop of garlic in the summer. I will most likely give it a feed in the coming months, and will have to ensure that the ground around the garlic remains weed free.

 

#NABLOPOMO: Garlic Planting part one @MarshallsSeeds

Thanks to Marshall Seeds who kindly send me some heritage garlic varieties; and start with with arguably the first planting for next years growing season.

In general, Heritage fruit and vegetable varieties are still very new to me. Something that I tried to do this year and am looking to carry on into the future. Garlic is no different. It is staple part of many Indian dishes, and Ma will always use the crops that we produce on the plot in her kitchen.

Over the years, I have sown and grown many different varieties. The varieties in this batch are:

  • Red Duke
  • Garlic Mikulov
  • Garlic Bohemian rose.

I have broken up the cloves from the bulbs. Each individual clove is then dibbed into the freshly dug over earth that we prepared last week. I say we, but in reality it was my mum digging it over and removing the weeds and grass that offended her by just growing. She doesn’t the weeds and is always trying to make the plot what she terms to be ‘tidy’, I do not know how the grass even dares, in knowing that it will be unscrupulously pulled out.

I am conscious that there is a risk of bird pulling the cloves out, so they are covered with only the tiniest bit of clove sticking out. Hopefully, they should be okay.

Tomato tribulations 2015

I had a lot of hope for my tomatoes this year. I would sown them when the conditions were useful, plant them into the poly tunnel. Take on board on the learning from the last few years. See if I could really maximize the potential crop.

As I write, there are still tomato plants in the poly tunnel. Whilst the weather is starting to turn, and the plot now dons it autumn winter apparel and has a rather miserable visage; I am hanging onto the tomatoes to see how far they go.

It feels a distant memory, but planting out the growing plants was the start of the possible adventure. Positioned in the poly tunnel, I aimed for two things. First, ripe tomatoes; they were all planted under cover for that very reason.In previous years, whilst there was an abundance outside, they were all green. Second, green tomatoes would be a bonus.

So the things grew. I had a number of different varieties. Some were new, the heritage brandywines and cream sausage. There were also some staples, I had stuck with yellow stuffer.

The tomatoes grew like triffids.

There is a bit of confusion, that I will gladly admit to. To defoliate or not to defoliate. There are some varieties that do need the side shoots removing, some that don’t. Also, the argument for photosynthesis does make sense. So where do you draw the line? How far you go in removing foliage, if you remove foliage at all? There were times, where it near enough impossible to move in the poly tunnel without having a yellow flower or green leaf tickle your nose.

The key at all points in the process was fruits.

In previous years I have been swimming in green tomatoes. Naturally this has lent itself to chutney.  So there was something of a disappointment in not having many fruit and even then, not many green ones.

I am not sure quite sure what went wrong this year. There are a number of variables that need reflecting on. Was having slow maturing beefstakes a step too far? Was the poly tunnel too congests, or did the weather scupper all hope.

Shall be looking at the seedboxes to make a decision about what varieties will be sown next year. To think tomatoes are meant to simple.

Far from it.

 

 

Tomatos: Heritage and brandywines

Sat here with the FA Cup on in the background, I am seed shuffling. Seed shuffling tomato seeds. I have now got 12 baby seedlings, sat nervously on the window sill. I am hoping to sow some more in the coming weeks, The plan, is to have tomatos and chilli peppers in the poly tunnel.

So far, I have sown a money maker, true black brandywine, purple cherokee, yellow stuffer, marmande, and cream sausage. A few of these are heritage varieties, and some of them the big beefsteak variety. They are also a diverse range in terms of their colour spectrum.

Last year, Marmande were lovely. Just a bit green. They have a lovely knobbly surface that you just don’t find in the supermarket. I also had purple cherokee. Again, this was a productive cropper. There were tomatoes, big ones too. Smudges of purple. rather than fully, failed to move much from green.  The tomatoes that we see in the supermarket, are those beautifully round, smooth, spherical creatures. Yet not all veg is smooth, uniform and standard. The vast majority of it, is actually wonky. Yet we don’t buy it, and it sadly goes to waste.

Having rooted around the seed stashers, I have located my tomato seeds. Once more, I am trying to select the varieties that I would like to sow.  Have already sown a few yellow tomatoes, but there is a yellow brandywine that I quite like the look of. There is already a pinkish one, that rules out the pink brandywine. There is something definitely more solid about a beefsteak tomato. The plants are different too, in terms of the leaf shape and they get quite tall.

I have quite a few tigerella seeds, freebies, I think. Might try these to see what kind of fruit they are, beyond their novelty stripes. It is a heritage variety, interestingly. Lastly, there is Roma VF. Meant to be good for sauces, so we shall see as to how productive it. Most likely going to be used just like a conventional red tomato.