Tag Archives: yellow stuffer

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 time! #gdnbloggers

“Get them home before the blight comes.”

So said the Allotment Secretary as I trundled home with trug number of two of tomatoes. It started with trug number one and a couple of carrier bags.

We have had quite a few varieties on the plot. These are-if I remember correctly-tigerella, latah, moneymaker, yellow stuffer, cream sausage alisa craig and marmande. I may have missed out a few.

Anyway, I’ve been complaining acutely over the course of the growing season as to how little produce I have managed to sow and grow. I may have over looked the productivity of the thirty two-ish plants that were grown across the two family plots.

I remember having that many plants, and dividing them between my plot and mum’s. I had a feeling, that there would be quite a few if all things went well. Now, having seen a few of plants on neighbouring plots start to with and go all very baroque gothic with would be blight, I have harvested a fair amount.

For fair amount, read poundage and one big massive puddle. I have maybe one trug full left, which I might harvest next week if the airborne blight is still away in distance.

Some of the fruit are actually turning; there are splodges of red, yellow and orange floating around. I have to say, that it is the latah one’s that are by far the reddest of them all. Even moneymaker is somewhat orange hued and not red.

As you can see, there is an assortment of different shapes and sizes. Once you have sown and grown your own tomatoes, you cannot look at the generic shop bought ones in the same light. There is also the question of flavour-the distinct tomato-y-ness. The fibre of the fruit, is is squishy, solid or just a flesh that is held up up by sugars.  This lunchtime, as I sliced up a yellow stuffer for a side salad, I realised why it was a stuffer and not a salad tomato. It had been looking at me for days, pleading to be used. Although moneymaker is uniformly round, there are other varieties that are less pretty. And thank goodness that they are! There are quite a few knobbly marmande fruit, with their rather weird and wonderful shape. It is a shame, that in most instances, not many people will eat what is lovingly termed ‘ugly fruit’. It tastes the same, is of the same edible quality, and proves that nature loves wonkiness. There are far more wonky things, compared to the bland, uniform, tick all the boxes, don’t make a fuss variety.

That puddles is huge, and would probably make a lovely green tomato chutney. I’m not particularly feeling the chutney at the moment. I have some hope, that within the confines of a warm environment, these fruit will turn. In which case, they can be used in Mama F’s kitchen and I might even consider investigating pasta sauce  of some kind. There is also the option of ready made tarka mix as well, that could be interesting.

So the growing season hasn’t been an entire bust; the tomatoes are okay. I’m sure I have spuds to lift as well……

 

For now, it’s all okay, and smelling of tomatoes. (Trust me, that is not attractive….)

Glads to planting tomatos #gdnbloggers

plot.jpg

Doesn’t look too bad, does it?

This would be plot, as we approach the ides of May. Over the last few days, the calmer and warmer weather has allowed the plot to dry out a little. It looks less like what one of the ‘old boys’ of the allotment described as a paddy field. It is drier, yes, and I am able to see the wood for the trees. Especially, as the potatoes have stared to come, the odd previously sunk gladiolus are also coming up and the grapevines are starting to look alive.

I mention the glads, as more have been sunk today. I think I have read somewhere that glad’s have their naming roots in Gladiator swords. Actually makes me smile, but also think of Clash of the titans. In  the older Harryhausen movie, skeletal gladiators rose from the earth; so I often imagine this as I see thin green and scarlet tinged blades start to rise from the soil. More on the glads later though.

Fruit trees were looking frilly, the falstafff apple still is actually. I think the pear tree has somewhat suffered, and has been scorched by a frost. I was quite clad to see that the Morello cherry had blossomed out in bulk, as I wasn’t expecting it to be in bloom so soon after planting.

Today the task was to plant out this years cohort of tomatoes as well as sinking more gladiolus.

Having moved from home, this years tomato plants have been sat in the poly tunnel for a week or so. I did make an attempt to plant them out on Wednesday, only for the heavens to open whilst I planted just the one plant out. There were another fourteen plants to be planted out today, with seven additional plants being given to mum for her half plot. The first thing to keep in mind, is that whilst we are half way through May, a threat of frost still exists here in Birmingham. So if we do have a frost, these are probably for the high jump, and it truly be ‘good night, Vienna’ for them. There is an assortment of varieties, with yellow stuffer, aisla craig, marmande and cream sausage amongst the plants. Some of them have lost their labels, so I will have to take a rough guess if and when these do fruit. I did actually see a baby tomato on one of the plants on Mum’s half plot. All being well, they will be happy and won’t be frosted. Famous last words, I know.

The other job was to sink more gladiolus.

FullSizeRender
basket full of blooms

In the last couple of years, I must have sunk hundreds. There were a hundred that were sunk today. Thankfully,  of those sown over the years, are starting to sprout. These are however, largely in raised beds. Those there were in open ground are thin on the ground as Ma has dug over large patches where they might have been on the edges and scattered them around. That’s not a bad thing, they will appear if they want to. I have found that those in the heavy clay of the open ground may well have decayed and disintegrated over the winter; during the summer they did actually flower quite well.

  • Butterfly mix
  • Purple Flora
  • Black Surprise
  • Video
  • Green Star
  • Essential

The varieties that have been sunk, vary from being dwarf varieties to larger, giant varieties that are easily four to five high. I am intrigued as how the green variety are going to turn out, as well as the black surprise. I remember giving the latter ones away last year when I felt that I had too many to sink. The purple ones are a favourite, and always look rather pretty. There is a vast variety in the butterfly mix. A smaller dwarf variety, this selection usually contains many different colours.

 

In the next few months, garlic will be on the agenda. This is the garlic kindly supplied by Marshalls, and it’s not doing too badly. There is strong and healthy looking foliage, that indicates just how robust garlic can be and especially during rather erratic weather conditions. I am very glad to say that it hasn’t bolted; there are not signs yet of a flower forming on the top of the garlic scrapes. The foliage has certainly filled out and become more leafy. When it starts to go brown and hessian like and falls over, then it will time to harvest .garlic

Polytunnel potting up

Finally, I am moving the chillies from their warm sitting place to the poly tunnel. I have potted up twelve pots into larger flower buckets. This is half of this years chilli cohort, with another two dozen pots to be positioned in the poly tunnel. Potted up today were Purple Haze cayennes-two plants, with a third waiting at home-jalepenos, hungarian hot wax, prairie fire, patio sizzle and sparkler. These are plants that have had something of a growth surge recently, and one of the purple haze plants has even started to form flowers. I have taken this as an indicator that these are now ready to move home and head to the poly tunnel. These are the final pots for the plants, and I don’t anticipate potting them on again.

You can see the you tube version here.

Squashes also need to be potted on, and I didn’t realise quite how many I had. I counted just over two dozen plants; luckily for me, I can share these with Mum. There are four marrows in there, which she will no doubt have designs on. Marrows are really not my thing, but Ma can work magic with them.  I have yet to sow pumpkins and butter nut squashes; to be honest, I might cheat in those cases. I can never get pumpkins or butter nut squashes to actually germinate. Seedlings tend to be okay and I can look after them from that stage onwards. There are a few patty pans and yellow scallops, these become the coolest of space ship courgettes. There are the standard green courgettes as well as other yellow ones.

The poly tunnel is now occupied with a number of different seedlings. Tomatoes and Sweetcorn  have been basking in sunshine for the last few days, and I have taken the decision to move them to the poly tunnel by way of a half way house. The Latah variety and a few others have already started to flower, so moving might be useful. The tomato cohort as a whole are probably not as tall as they could be-they were sown later than usual-and are starting to look a bit weary of their pots. The aim is to plug these into raised beds in the coming week if the weather remains fair. I just need to keep an eye on them in the poly tunnel, as I remember having a small panic last year in nearly cooking plants as the poly got rather too hot. There should be enough water in the gravel trays though, for the next couple of days if the temperatures remain; the vents are also open.

You can see the youtube version here.

It was world naked gardening day today, apparently. I can assure you that I fully clothed all the time.

Windowsill Wednesday #gdnbloggers

March comes in like a lion, and leaves like a lamb. That is meant to the seasonal adage. There is most certainly roaring, as the weather displays it’s mood with rain, slush and sleet. You would not think that this was the start of Spring. With the inclement weather making it difficult to go play on the plot, all reflections are contained within four walls of home. In particular, reflecting on the window sills.

Despite being a little behind, the window sills are starting to fill up. Chillies and tomatoes now occupy the available space, and will need to be carefully observed as they start to grow. They all look very delicate and spindly. largely due the fact that it is still very cold and I don’t use grow lights. I never have, though the hardened chilli might do; grow lights have never been on my agenda. Maybe when I have my own castle and have won the lottery, I might invest in some.

There is still a lot to think about, so early on in the season. I have a long list of things to consider. I need to find some ‘orse poop so that I can sink all the seed potatoes that are currently waiting in the wings. With Easter being early, the planting of the seeds will scheduled in line with a break from school. Previously, I have spent the odd Good Friday and Easter Monday digging trenches for potatoes or building bean frames. No trenches on the plot, by way of learning and experiencing different things; and the beans go into wig-wam structures. All of the spuds are likely to go into raised beds that will be filled with ‘orse poop. ‘Orse poop that has decayed well, and isn’t steaming fresh as this can kill things dead and that’s not quite what we want.

This years Psychology Sunflower challenge will be kicked off as well. (You can find last years blog posts about that in the archive). As April swings in, one will need to consider squashes, runner beans and climbing French beans; and sow these into pellets. This will mean window sill shuffles and making sure that the four tier blowaway in the garden is in a fit state. It’s actually looking a bit battered and weather beaten, and the cover might have disintegrated in patches in addition to the zip on the one side having lost it’s teeth. Happens to all of the covers!  Sowing of the beans may take a while, even though in the past they have been sown around St.Patrick’s Day. We had a nice crop last year, though mum did pull faces at the Borlotti beans. I quite like them, and will probably sown a few seeds sneakily on the side. She won’t know til they vine!

Happy Wednesday folks!

 

Potting up baby tomatoes 2016

Only sown a week ago, tomato seeds have cracked, germinated and started to reach for the sky. There were a number of jiffy pellets used, and approximately eight different varieties sown and most of these have successfully come through. With the light levels still very low, and the temperatures low enough to produce snow; the seedlings were starting to get very leggy and demanded immediate potting up. In being gangly, the danger is that they get so tall, they stretch out and snap at the root to keel over. The stems become very spindly if they are left in the heated prop for too long, and most of the seedlings had in fact been fished out so that the lower heat levels might slow them down a little.

Having done the necessary school work for this week, I needed to pot them up. As ever, I have help in the shape of my mum.(Happy mothering Sunday, to all those Mum’s -and dads, grandma’s, uncles and aunties who might occupy that role-on Mama’s day). I was all set to pot up the plants, only for Mum to arrive and wave me out the way. I was having a small crisis in not having any newspaper to put across the floor, so we have had to improvise today.

You can see the youtube version here.

I have lost count of how many seedlings there are. Suffice to say, there a quite a few. Tomatoes do grow rather quickly when they have optimum growing conditions. For now, I have potted the seedlings into 7cm pots. I-well, Mum has-potted them very deeply and right up to the seed leaves. All being well, this fragile stem-they turn purple when they are cold-will send out root hairs that will in turn anchor the plant into it’s soil and allow it it feed better.

At the moment, they do look very tiny and very small. All being well, these will start to become a little more robust and the true leaves will start to develop.They have interesting lacy quality that makes them instantly recognisable as being baby tomatoes.

Sowing tomatoes 2016

We’re running a little behind scheduled! Looking back at this point last year, it would appear that I behind where I should be. The chillies are definitely smaller, and I am only getting around to sowing tomatoes. That was the job for today! There are quite a few jiffy pellets sown, more than usual. If they don’t end up on the plot, I am sure that they will go to happy homes. All being well, I will put these into the open ground of the plot, rather than in the poly tunnel. Last year all of the tomato plants were in there, and the subsequent yield was far lower than expected.

IMG_7434

Click here for the youtube channel version.

The range that we have sown today is as follows:

  • Aisla Craig
  • Marmande
  • Tigerella
  • Yellow Stuffer
  • Money maker
  • Black Cherry
  • Latah

I was ably assisted by mum, who requested that we have the staple of red, round tomatoes. She kindly put all the seeds into the jiffy pellets after I had labelled them. You can’t see her on the video, but I assure you that she was standing there waving her hands at me to make the video longer! May be next time!

 

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.

 

 

Finally: Poly tunnel plugged in and potted up

Today is something of a red-letter day. The polytunnel on the plot now has everything tucked into it. The Growing season is officially ready to rock and roll. Unless the weather or the world has a huge great big episode. If you have a look at the tags, you will see just how much is plugged in or potted up.

With exception of two plants-the Dorset Naga and Purple haze chillies-everything in that polytunnel has been sown and grown from seed. That tomatoes, chillies and aubergines. All of which have had some form of drama attached to it. The tomatoes got dehydrated, the chillies had aphids, the aubergines were and are somewhat developmentally delayed.

The chillies are now starting to flower, even the tiniest of the pots that contain the chocolate and orange habaneros have flower buds on. The Cayenne’s have a clutch of white flowers, and the purple haze is a spot purple.

The last of the chillies was potted up today, pettie belle, as were the four aubergine babies. The aubergines are a little smaller than I would have expected, but I did sow them later than I could have and on a whim.

Our challenge now, is to keep everything happy. Watered, fed, happy and not too hot. There is one vent open to help cool and offer some form of ventilation. Valuable lessons are incorporated into all of this. The chillies are in pots, and will stay that way, as will the aubergines. Previously both of these have been in the ground, and not a lot has happened. Tomatoes are plugged in, they have worked well outside in the ground. The added bonus of being under cover might help them this year. Copper tape is around most of the pots, as well as little blue pellets of doom.

Tomatoes are now looking happy, and they are sending out little yellow flowers. So this with the white chilli flowers is a sign of some positive things. I am not too sure about the Aubergines, they might catch up, they might not.

With everything plugged in, let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Polytunnel Plug in Post @Maroon5 concert

poly

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.

Tomatoes:

  • moneymaker
  • marmande
  • yellow stuffer
  • cherokee purple
  • true black brandy wine
  • cream sausage

Chillies:

  • cayenne
  • orange habanero
  • orange and chocolate habanero
  • pumpkin
  • raindrop
  • bellaforma
  • aji limo
  • serrano
  • apricot
  • purple haze

purplehazechilli

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.