Lessons in…

…Tomatoes!

This is not a pretty picture, but:

It proves one of the things I learnt about growing tomatoes this summer:  Tomatoes don’t need foliage to survive.  Dad told me that once the tomato plants are strong with flowers, start picking off new leaf-shoots on the stem/branches, below the level of any tomato flowers.  This means nutrients will be diverted to the flowers and tomatoes, rather than leaves.  So that’s just what I did, and it worked!

I also learnt that where there is dead foliage – as above – it can be removed.  Again, nutrients will go to the fruits and flowers of the plant, not be wasted in other leaves/stems.  I didn’t remove the dead stuff on this plant, but I did on some cherry tomato plants which I grew.  No harm caused – it actually made the plant a bit lighter, so it didn’t topple over.  And from a previous post, you will see I had several bowls of cherry tomatoes which were superb!

I grew cherry tomato plants this year.  Last year I grew standard tomatoes without much success.  The ‘propping them up with a cane thing’ was a nuisance – I couldn’t get it to work.  And I didn’t judge the amount of watering right, either.  So I gave the cherry tomatoes a go this year – success!  They are more like a small bush – which does not need a cane for support.  I grew them in pots(no need for a Gro-Bag, and no heavy Gro-Bag to dispose of at the end of the season).  The packet says they can be grown in hanging baskets too, though I didn’t try that.

They seemed to take a while to start ripening – the fruits were plentiful:  Lesson number 4 – be patient!  Once a few ripened, I harvested them.  Each time they were harvested, this seemed to allow the others to ripen, too.  And this allows for repeat crops, otherwise I would have had a huge glut of tomatoes in one go which I could never have used!

Throughout the growing/ripening season I have fed weekly with a liquid tomato feed – cheap and cheerful.  I think that’s especially important as tomatoes seem to need a lot of nutrients, and growing in pots limits access to these.  I also watered daily – filled the pot to the top twice each day, and allowed it to soak in.  Tomatoes are thirsty plants!

The plants did not look perfect in their growth.  They were wonky and bent over…some of the leaves died off…some of the fruits had markings on them, and were funny shapes – they’d never be acceptable in a supermarket which ony accepts ‘perfect-shaped fruit’ – no worries!  I had great crops of cherry tomatoes which were tasty and a pleasure to use in meals.

One of the greatest things to learn about growing anything is the satisfaction of seeing beautiful things growing in your garden.  Greenery…beautiful colours…freshness.  Cultivate some daring and some patience – see what you can achieve and feel satisfied.  It’s very different to our ‘here-and-now-world’ that we inhabit today – but it’s so rewarding.  Spread it to others, especially to next generations.  Even with a window-box or a patio garden.  My garden is patio-only – but still, lots can be achieved to provide pleasure and satisfaction.  Any veg fresh from the garden is so different to anything bought in any shop or market – I never thought I would say that, but it’s true.  The veg is crunchy, firm and full of flavour every time – shop-bought is often limp, a bit wilted(at least) and you never know the taste until you get home.  Grow your own and you’ll understand.

I’m about to harvest the last pick of cherry tomatoes – in October!  And two other plants have plenty of flowers, but not sure if they will come to anything – watch this space 🙂

What do you enjoy best about gardening?

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