Whilst preparing to enter what had previously been to me, the unexplored world of blogging, I was worried about how I would find an appropriate first topic to set the tone about what it is that I want to share. As it turns out, it came to me within hours of setting up my profile whilst kneeling on a gardening pillow, soaking up the Saturday sun and finally planting the seeds for this year’s vegetable garden.
I have wonderful memories of playing in the garden when I was younger whilst my mother planted fruits and vegetables, collecting scraps and bits for the compost and then harvesting them with her. Whilst she was capable producing huge crops of apples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, lemons, carrots, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and more, I could never claim to be a super-gardener. But I have grown to love growing vegetables - I see the point in it over flowers as with a bit of luck, you’ll ultimately be rewarded with some fine, tasty, pesticide–free, fresh vegetables that you can use to prepare fabulous dishes for your friends and be proud of.
It was last summer that I decided to have my first real bash at growing vegetables and there was at least some success. In the end, the crop that I got the best results from was the one vegetable I grew in-doors. Most likely, due to the warmer climate, the consistent temperatures and the admittedly the fact that all the action went on above ground - exciting but also reminding me to actually water them! I am now a huge fan of growing the tomato for a whole host of reasons and it is these that I wanted to share as well as some tips and ideas that I have picked up.
It's up to you whether you start from seeds or buy smaller, ready-started pot plants, although the former is obviously cheaper. Last year I started from scratch and had no problems but this year I was a bit late so have opted the speedier option. The great thing is that unlike most other veggies, you plant them all in one go so don't have to lay more down every couple of weeks but are still left with a continuous crop when it comes to harvest time.
I find they like direct sunlight and are not too fussy about being over-watered within reason but they will dry out after a couple of days so vigilance is key. The pain is the constant transferring, usually three-to-four times if you start from scratch, initially into bigger pots and then it’s best if you can put them outside as they really do start to take over any living space - even better if you have some soil to you can transfer them to in the final stages. Tomato feed is key to getting them big plump and juicy and can be used with other plants too – there are even some recipes out there to make your own, although I can’t say I’ve tried them.
For those that don’t turn.. do not do not despair. Two tricks I’ve learnt, the first from my grandmother to put them in brown paper bags and the second from my mother to place a browning banana next to them. There’s some science in there somewhere because it works! And for the stubborn one’s that refuse to transform themselves into the tasty fruit/vegetables that we can eat? There is an abundance of recipes out there for green tomato chutneys, which are all a simple case of bung in a pan and heat for several hours – no complex cooking methods involved. And what’s even better is that chutney is at its best when let to set for a few months so from the September harvest, it’ll be at it’s peak by Christmas for easy, inexpensive presents and a gorgeous accompaniment to gammon or other meats.
So there you have it, the highlights of the inviting tomato growing into your life - a 6-month tale with a fabulous range of rewards. Happy GYOing!