Showing posts with label Tomato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tomato. Show all posts

24 Nov 2012

Sub-Arctic, Canadian Wonder and Striped Pyjamas


Abundance is not the word I'd reach for when describing the past year's veg successes. It's been more a little taste of this and that when the weather has obliged. In choosing my 2012 veg, I envisaged a nice prolonged warm summer (like last year) with the right conditions for tomatoes, chillies, sweetcorn, squashes, courgettes and exotic pulses such as LabLab beans and purple podded peas.  Foiled (or fooled?) again!

My sweetcorn grew but the cobs didn't fatten, the fennel has seeded itself all over the garden thanks to high winds, peas and pole beans amounted to nothing much.

On the other hand, the Canadian Wonder (red kidney) beans that I ordered have been a triumph; they produced a huge number of slim pods over a long period so that I had plenty to give to friends and neighbours. I picked the pods young (about 3 - 6 inches long) for eating - they were delicious.  I had hoped to grow several plants for mature pods so that I could save the kidney beans over winter (I love a good bean stew or chillied beans) but it didn't happen. I guess much more warmth was needed for that.

~ Canadian Wonder beans, late August 2012~
Most of my courgettes rotted before they grew much more than a few inches high - apart from the Sicilian Long White on my balcony :)  but a spaghetti squash planted close to the wall struggled through to September when it was rewarded with a few weeks of warmer weather. That did the trick nicely and it went on to produce several huge squashes, the biggest weighing nearly 3 kilos, probably enough to feed at least 6 people! Is that a big achievement? It certainly felt like it to me.  I chose this vegetable purely for it's name - Striped Squash Pyjamas. Sometimes a total lack of logic is best.

~Spaghetti squash: Striped Pyjamas ~
My tomatoes were very deliberately chosen - Sub Arctic Plenty.  Touted as fruiting within 9 weeks of planting and being able to set fruit in cooler conditions, surely this was the tomato for me!  It didn't, however, live up to expectations, producing only a couple of dozen tomatoes between the 2 surviving plants - and those after several months of nurturing. I blame the weather.  It's a lovely looking tomato though, like a small beefsteak and with a very good flavour, thin-skinned and lovely squiggly insides - I'll be growing this one again in 2013 and hoping the weather is kinder. (All my veg are grown outside and at the mercy of whatever the weather may thrown at them.)  Incidentally, the other two seed choices, Red Alert and Principe Borghese, either didn't grow or didn't fruit. What a year!

Tomatoes sliced
~ Sub-Arctic Plenty. Very pretty determinate tomato. ~
I also had a bonus tomato plant in the patch, grown from the seed of one of last year's dropped Cherriettes of Fire tomatoes.  This time, knowing its dendency to droop, I potted the little found plant into a large pot where it flourished to produce lots of very late mini tomatoes. Even now in November, I'm still able to pick a small handful from this plant although it's now on the way out.

Cherriettes of fire
~ Cherriettes of Fire, tiny cherry tomatoes ~
So what about next year?  I'm thinking only about the vegetables I buy in quantity:  purple sprouting broccoli, beans, squashes, beetroot, blueberries, raspberries and, of course, plenty of herbs and edible flowers. Potatoes break up the soil and carrots take up very little space if grown in tubs but both are cheap to buy, as are onions (but I've already bought white onion sets). I'll grow lots more salad leaves on my balcony (far far away from those pesky slugs!) and broad beans (red flowered, hopefully) as they get the season off to a good start.  As to varieties, I'm already reading through the catalogues to see what's new, thinking about weather protection for my crops and dreaming of a greenhouse.

7 Jun 2011

Cherriettes of Fire

Meet my new tomato ...

Cherriettes of Fire, June 2011

I'd like to say that this is all my own work but that would be telling porkies.  After several attempts I've thrown in the towel with my own efforts and resorted to buying in a few plants.  After no less than three attempts at growing a bush tomato from seed, I have been forced to admit defeat.  Oh the seeds germinated alright and grew strong and upright until the tiny first proper leaves appeared.  The next morning, just a stem.  Or a half eaten leaf.  I persevered and nurtured but night after night mysterious munchings carried on until there were only stems.  I tried again - twice. But this is the current state of my third attempt:

Just tomato stalks

Really just too frustrating!  I've since discovered from Emma Cooper's blog that this could be the work of Fungus Gnats - those irritating little flies that hop swiftly around when you water indoor plants. Their eggs hatch just under the soil and the maggoty larvae munch through roots or whatever vegetation is available. A suggested solution is to let the soil dry out between waterings, a better one is apparently yellow sticky traps. (I might check that one out!)

So, during a visit to a well-known home'n'garden centre to pick up more potting soil, I found myself examining the labels in the tomato section ... and picking up a couple of sturdy, leafy plants to bring home.  (Nice to see that said emporium has embraced Heritage toms.) I bought rescued a vine tomato called Auriga (looking very abandoned and sorry for itself) and another Heritage tom "Tornado" - although whether I'm the best person to nurture these plants, based on previous form, remains to be seen!

But how could I resist a tomato that was called "Cherriettes of Fire"?  I've had the soundtrack to that movie running through my head ever since. It's not a heritage variety but given the abundant flowers already forming, at last I have hopes of a tomato crop this summer.  (Fingers crossed against blight, that is!)

My new tomato plant, June 2011
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