The Tomato Diaries: July to September

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3rd July

The first flower. This is a seedling that ‘appeared’ in Raised Bed B.

19th July

I now have several unidentified varieties of tomato – at various stages of growth – in both raised beds and four (identified) in large pots. If they all fruit at the same time, I’ll have an awful lot of home-made tomato sauce in my new chest freezer!

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No sign of any fruit yet, but several flowers dotted here and there.

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I’ve dotted pots sown with carrot seeds – at different stages – among the tomatoes and onions in Raised Bed B. The theory being that as I will have to water the carrots because they are in pots, instead of the water leaking all over the patio, it will now help to keep the tomatoes watered.

And on 25th July, I spotted my first tomato – smaller than a 50p coin and I have no idea which variety it is as it is one of the seedlings that popped up in the raised beds.

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A quick look back at the archives (two years only) tells me that in 2018, tomatoes were well underway with lots of fruit by the end of August; while by the end of August 2019, I had only picked ONE single tomato. It looks like 2020 is shaping up the same way.

18 August

Both raised bed are filling up with tomato plants. While I’ve pinched out the tips on the four pot-grown toms, these will have to soldier on regardless.

Raised Bed B

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Raised Bed A

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Plenty of fruit forming – which is good; none of it ripening – which isn’t so good. But, as we learned last year, it’s not the amount of sunlight they receive but the amount of heat. Time to get the bubble wrap out and make them a little windbreak…

after the predicted storms later this week!

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Despite heavy rain showers on 23rd August, I spend the morning tidying the sunny patio which led on to finally tackling all the tomato seedlings that sprang up unexpectedly when I thought they hadn’t germinated and threw the compost onto my raised beds.

I do have several tomatoes forming so took the opportunity to trim back some of the larger leaves, remove side shoots that have no flower buds forming, and uproot several smaller seedlings that will not produce fruit in the time left.

As more strong winds were forecast for the week ahead, I also added some extra stakes and tied some of the taller stems in higher up. 

The result of all this work has been to open up the plants to expose the fruits, stop the stems from growing further and concentrate of producing tomatoes, and to open up areas in the raised bed where other crops (spring onions) were being smothered.

Raised Bed A
Raised Bed B

As these plants were an unexpected bonus, I didn’t mind losing some of the crop. My main focus has been on the four plants I have grown in pots – only three of which I can identify (unless their labels have disappeared).

I forgot to look at the labels when I moved them to the south-facing position in front of the potting shed, but I suspect they would have faded or disintegrated by now. I’m going to stick my head out and say that the plant with the larger tomato fruits (second from the right) is Super Marmande. At least one of the others is Gardener’s Delight – maybe two – and one Yellow Delight.

The last week of August was mostly wet and cold. Even when the sun did show its face, it wasn’t in a position to shine on these tomatoes. So I cut them off and have put them in the conservatory in the hope that the warmer air will help them to ripen. It also made more room for smaller fruit to put on some growth.

Unfortunately, some of the tomatoes began to rot and had to be thrown away (NOT in the compost bin).

6 September

As the days are cooler, but still sunny (on occasion), I’ve bubble-wrapped the container tomatoes.

It will give the tomatoes some extra protection and hopefully promote ripening.

8 September

Finally! I have two tomatoes ripening on a plant in Raised Bed B. They are mostly in the shade until late afternoon, but they are in a sheltered position.

12 September

On this week’s Gardener’s World, Monty Don discussed tomatoes, explaining that there was now only a short amount of time to get them to ripen outdoors and drastic action is needed. This means cutting off most of the leaves and any trusses only bearing small tomatoes or flowers.

There’s no point in listening to advice and then ignoring it, so I followed suit and got the secateurs out. With sunny, dry and hot weather forecast I crossed fingers and toes and hoped for the best. (My brother has given up on his and harvested green tomatoes for chutney.)

A rather fuzzy image of the tomatoes I am trying to ripen indoors. The red cherry tomato is a bought one, used to stimulate the others into action. The two small ones at the front are those in the 8 September image above. But it is the orange tomato in the middle I am most pleased with as this was a green tomato just a week ago, so something is working.

The ‘dish’ they are sitting on is the recycled glass door from our old washing machine.

And there are more ripening.

Better late than never!

So now it is just a matter of inspecting those still growing and picking off the tomatoes that look as though they have started to change (and aren’t rotting because something has eaten a chunk out of it) and bringing them inside to help them along.

Green tomato chutney is still an option!

3 thoughts on “The Tomato Diaries: July to September

  1. Great work! We had no seed this year and didn’t want to go to the shops to get some. We came on a packet which had come free with a magazine, a variety for hanging baskets, and went with it. They were miserable plants – loads and loads of flowers for ages and not one tomato and then… an explosion of fruit, hundreds of cherry-sized tomatoes which have only finished earlier this week when we threw out the plants. We grew them in a glasshouse and really enjoyed them.

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