Saturday, 29 August 2009

Tomato revelations

I'm not sure when I grew my first tomato. I was probably an adult, I was probably in my early twenties and although I can't remember the event, I have a fairly shrewd idea of what happened. I imagine that I planted the seeds indoors, got very excited when they actually germinated, carefully nurtured them through transplantation and growing on to planting out size and then...well, then I probably did what I usually do, which involves planting them out a bit too late and then watching them grow into monster plants outdoors, with the occasional titillatingly gorgeous ripe tomato, and a slew of green ones that either never reach full ripeness before the frosts or succumb to blight before the season even gets that far.

There have been variations on a theme. There was the Year of Green Tomato Chutney, when version a) of events above occurred on a sliver of land I had appropriated by my boyfriend's mooring (mine was on hardstanding, so no good there). I used to cruise my boat up to his, breast up and tend the garden. I had an amazing harvest...of green tomatos. I was so keen not to waste them that I set about creating Canal Tomato Chutney. I learnt the hard way that if you make chutney on a boat, the smell lingers. For weeks, people passing my boat commented on it, whilst I smelt like a spice shop. The chutney itself was inedible, which I put down to flirting with a friend of mine whilst putting in the chilli powder. There is, however, a happy ending. I stashed it all under my bed and about a year later in a state of desperate no chutneyness, I broke into a jar - and it was lovely!

Recent years have seen a run of Version B - where blight has got the plants before I could harvest everything. I vowed last year that I would never grow tomatos outside again. This year I grew a vast number of plants, sold quite a few from a table outside my house and planted most of the rest in my conservatory and greenhouses. I have a great range, from the Black Seaman to Big Rainbow with Tigerella and Gardeners Delight in between. Most of them are either saved seed or from the HDRA or an eccentric seed supply in the States.

I think tho that I might have begun to crack the tomato connundrum. I will tell more....but after I've gone foraging for elderberries by the reservoirs....

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