The Tomato Report 2011
As usual, there’s a tale to be told of tomatoes, fortunately mostly good this year. For the 2nd year running, blight has been less troublesome and my tomatoes got away scot free. Unfortunately, the cool summer weather kept yields down but the warm autumn has meant they mostly ripened. Once again, Ferline was a star with sweet fresh tomatoes plus lots of bottled & frozen pulp to take us through the winter. Most of my plants were outside in my garden for ease of TLC and I did treat them with Bordeaux mixture as a precaution. What was a revelation, though, was another type of tomato recommended on Gardener’s World the year before last – Rosada. This is a Thomson & Morgan F1 hybrid, a largish elongated cherry which is hideously expensive at £3.49 for 6 seeds and of superb flavour. I mostly grew them in the greenhouse and Rosada are still ripening in there as I write this on November 29th despite the fact they were the first tomatoes to be picked back in the distant summer! Rosada is determinate – basically a tall stringy bush which requires a little support from strings or long canes. Mine are 7’ high and running along the greenhouse roof clinging to anything they can find.
“Mostly” I said at the top. I was unable to change the earth/compost mixture in part of my greenhouse due to an experimental crop of indoor autumn onions. The onions did well, but the tomatoes in that bed suffered from starvation despite an attempt to fertilise with Growmore. Lesson learned. The onion experiment was to pack autumn onion sets in at 1” spacing, then thinning and using the small onions as spring onions. The last ones can then go full-term. This planting can be done inside or out. The inside ones (in buckets this year) will be ready for Christmas then used through the winter. I’ve planted 500, in and out which takes very little room – under 4 sq feet total – say 4 buckets! The autumn onion sets produce very sweet onions which are well worth growing however you use them.
Another recommendation I’ve taken onboard is to plant pea seeds at 1” spacing 3/4” deep in a seed tray and harvest the shoots at 4” high. They are ready in about 2 weeks. As I buy pea seeds in bulk (typical cost £4.50 for 4,500), a tray will cost me 10p and is a very tasty addition to a salad any time of the year, and particularly so in the winter months. They have an intense pea flavour. You can also use peas sold for soaking (“Bigga” & similar) which are even cheaper. This time of year the shoots are elongated and pale due to lack of light, but possibly better as a result.
The final news is that I’ve decided to give up the plot. This is a combination of hay fever, gross over-production, more growing space allowed at home plus access to an extra garden as my daughter has bought a house locally. My shed is being moved to the car park for use by the Association, though is proving at this time to be better built that I’d remembered. Anyway, I hope to keep in touch so you might well see more articles in the future. Thanks for everything.