I confess to not knowing a lot about heritage veg. I am trying it though, especially tomatoes. There are few varieties that I have sown beyond the usually money maker. I have yellow stuffer, as well as marmande, cream sausage and true black brandywine. The seeds for cream sausage and true black brandywine were from nicky’s nursery.
The true black and marmande beefsteak tomatoes. I have a little success marmande, there were lots of green tomatoes of this variety last year. Which is why, I have put the tomatoes in the poly tunnel this year. The first thing that you notice, is the shape of the flowers. On the cream sausage tomato-this a yellow, pear drop type fruit apparently, you have the traditional propeller blade flowers. On the other hand, the beefsteak tomatoes have a fuzzy sunflower type flower. The leaves are also different. I am intrigued as to how black the true black brandywine beefsteak will be, as I know that the yellow tomatoes really are a bright sunny yellow. These were ripened on the sill last year, and made into hot yellow sun chutney. With the exception of the smaller, plants, the vast majority of the tomato plants are starting to form buds and unleash bright yellow flowers. They are small still, less than 30cm high, but I am hoping that if we have warm bright weather, they will start shooting up and out. When I remember, I am trying to armpit them. When the plants were outside last year, they did take their time getting go, so we shall see how long it takes before everything starts flourishing.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing Maroon5 again. Prior to this, I spent time in the poly tunnel by way of a warm up. Singing,rather loudly, I might add. This involved putting manure into the poly tunnel and refreshing the soil. I also plugged in the vast majority of tomato plants bar one. Bar one, as the plants are still only two inches high.
The concert was epic, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Have now seen Maroon5 four times in ten years, and I was twice the age of their current fans. Maroon5 on shuffle tends to be what I have playing on the plot, all the time. Many slugs, have been slain, to the sound of Maroon5. Something about the vocals and guitar.
Anyway. the poly tunnel. This morning, I went to water the contents. We have vast variety of plants in there as listed below.
true black brandy wine
orange and chocolate habanero
Above is the purple haze. This along with the Dorset Naga was purchased from sea spring seeds when they had a stall at the edible garden show. I bought plug plants of these two as the time had passed to sow from seed. Otherwise, I have sown and grown all the plants from seed. As you can see, there are two tiny purple chillies on the plant. So far, this is the most productive chilli plant, those are chillies number two and three! making this year already more successful than last year. We have had a spot of drama though, in having an aphid attack. The poor plants are only just starting to recover and send out new leaves. Lessons have been learned from last year. The chillies are in pots, and not in open ground. The result being, that the plants look happier, are more productive and don’t send out lots of bushy foliage with no flowers. Even the small plants in the brown pots are sending out flower buds. The additional benefit is that the pots can be moved around as things-fingers crossed-grow. I have one absent chilli-pettie belle-that is still to move on, plus four aubergine plants that are still being nursed at home.
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.
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!
Window sill shuffle is happening once more. The tomato plants, the first batch, had been sat in the four tier blowaway for some time. They have largely been growing quite vigorously, were becoming quite large for the small green house. There is a second, more diminutive batch remaining. The larger ones have now been transferred to the wendy house, the larger green house on the plot. They are still fleeced, as I really don’t want to take any chances at all. They are eventually going to go into the poly tunnel, once the red duke of york potatoes have been dug up. That might not be too long, since the leafy red and green foliage is quite rampant at the moment.
Five of the remaining habanero plants that are at home, have now taken the place of the larger tomatoes. There are still about half a dozen smaller tomato plants, that have yet to get a wriggle on.
We had a horrible frost the night before last, and I was worried that the babies in the 4 tier blowaway may have experienced jack frost’s kiss of death. They were however, nestled beneath two layers of fleece and had warm water bottles to keep them company. The picture above, doesn’t particularly do them justice. I was waiting for the wind to stop batting them around as a gust had come past. Most of them, are reasonably tall, but not gangly. I suspect they may actually need potting up, so that they can stretch that bit more. I might however, wait them out for the rest of the month, and then move them into the poly tunnel. That is if the Red Duke of York potatoes that currently occupy it have decided to come up and out. There are also some chillies already in there, that for now, have also survived the frost.
Today has been a rather sunny Easter Monday Bank Holiday. As it was rather warm, I had a check of the tomatoes. As you can see, there is fleece, black trays and recycled milk bottles filled with water. The tomatoes are still there, looking a bit purple stemmed, but still there. Whilst it was lovely and warm during the day, there sun has disappeared and there is a chill with thee being no clouds. I think I have another half a dozen tomatoes sat inside that would benefit from being potted up. Then I will have a full complement of tomatoes to be pampered in the 4TB, They are going to be in there a while, I don’t plant to stick them in the poly tunnel any time soon. Even then, the chillies and tomatoes are likely to be sent out together. That’s if they both survive. There was a spot of chilli drama today, with the cayennes nearly dying through intense heat. These had to retrieved and hydrated pretty quickly. I think they are still soaking as there was very near crispiness for a couple of plants.
The lovely Not Just Jams was talking about how she had put her tomatoes into her insulated greenhouse, with fleece. And I thought I might risk it. Not Just Jams also that she had had hot water bottles. Think that was milk bottles with water in, that heat up naturally. And since she is lovely, and has given me a lot of valuable ‘lotment and preserving advice, thought I might try some of her ideas. I didn’t get as far as the hot bottles. If only I had nabbed some out of the recycling that went out yesterday.
So I scampered this morning to tidy up the four tier blowaway, that has housed nothing but trays and things since last summer. I also need the window sill space. In the coming month, different things are going to get sown.
I did fleece the top deck of the 4TB though, and line it black bin bag. From GCSE science, that absorbs heat and light, as does the black trays. So here’s hoping to trap the heat.
And now I am a scared. That these pampered things are not going to make it til sunrise. They were starting to sulk whilst they were just sat on the flagstones whilst the sun was out.
They are fleeced. In that I have managed to create a box with it on the top shelf. Two sheets of cut down fleece are placed at right angles to one another to cover the four sides.
Closed the door, and I shall try and sleep tonight. The poor things.
After what has been an intense week, things are getting back to normal. I have found myself some compost, and got around to potting things up. The tomatoes were looking as though they were ready to bend and break, so needed to be potted up as matter of urgency. So putting down some newspaper-i did it before my mum instructed me to, and I even hoovered up after-I set about potting up.
I’m not very good at potting up, as you may have garnered. I even managed to decapitate one of the true black brandywine seedlings. To be fair it had already started to keel over a the soil point in having grown leggy. There was no hope for it anyway. Therefore, potting up is something of a delicate operation. I had to concentrate, so pops got a bit worried when I was walking around wearing a scowl and looking rather unhappy. That would be my concentration face.
The tomatoes were planted deep into new pots, right up to or close to their baby leaves. There are still another dozen or so baby tomatoes that are still at their baby leaf stage. But these were starting to send out their second or third set of proper leaves. They still have some time yet before they are move. I daresay that they will probably be potted up once more before they get planted into the poly.
Then, then we have the chillies. You have heard a fair bit of them lately. But they too needed potting up to varying levels. They are all incredibly leafy, and healthy looking. I did have a mild panic when earlier this week, a couple of the specimens were a bit wrinkly and dehydrated. So had to have a lot of water poured into their gravel tray. I rather like my chilli babies, and will be heartbroken if they keel over. Most of them now look a little more respectable having graduated from their yogurt pots and into the 7 cm pots. The habaneros were also potted up, they are sending out leaf pairs three and four, even though they are smaller in size compared to the rest of their cohort. I think that is trend for habaneros, as the other varieties are growing at a much speedier rate. I also had not realised quite how many Hungarian Hot wax chillies I had sown. There a number of Aji Limo, together with few cayenne babies.
Due to a very close family bereavement, the last week has been somewhat non horticultural. Haven’t been able to wander down to the plot to have a look. I did however, have to do some emergency potting up last week, and the task remains to pot up the rest. There was an emergency pot up of cayenne and the five aji limos. I think I have a serrano baby to pot up as well, so will have to get some MPC and start potting up. As you can see, some of them and lolling to one side as though they were a little bit drunk. The non-habanero chillies are flourishing, whereas the habaneros are still quite tiny, and very slow growing. The plan remains to have all of these in pots in the polytunnel.
The potting up process will also need to happen to the tomatoes. These are looking rather tall and leggy, and would benefit from a deep seat in larger pots. The tomatoes are going slower than the chillies, simply because I am being mean. I haven’t put them into direct warmth and heat, but will shortly when I run out of window sill space, so they haven’t had a sprint to start. Once potted up, I will perhaps move them to a brighter and warmer position. I have held off sowing more tomatoes, and I am pampering these somewhat and hoping that they survive.