I’ve sown tomato seeds in root trainers this year. I have nine rows with five cells in each and, purely by coincidence, a total of forty-five seeds – one for each cell.
I’m trying cherry tomatoes and succession sowing. These varieties are all determinate (each individual plant will fruit at the same time) and I want to be able to enjoy them without having them for every meal.
Not strictly September but on the last day of August, I emptied Compost Bin 2 into old growbags and compost bags – eleven in total – ready to take to the allotment to help improve the soil in my bed. So while Bin #1 does its thing over winter, I can start a new batch in Bin #2.
I could, however, have done without the eight-and-a-half-hours in A&E with chest pains that followed; and the potential diagnosis of angina following two ECGs, four blood tests, and four hours on a cardiac monitor. I am now on one low dosage aspirin a day, have a GTN spray for when the pain starts. BUT, after a chat with a cardiac nurse on September 10th, it MIGHT NOT be angina after all. Further tests are being arranged.
Gardening, apparently, is the best exercise; though I doubt she meant lugging great pots of compost around and stretching across raised bed. She probably thought I meant a little gentle pruning and a bit of weeding!
A long ‘diary’ and the final one for 2021. All is not yet safely gathered in. I’ll leave the tomatoes to ripen on the vine as long as I can; he plants are still producing flowers (which I keep cutting off), though they are nothing more than bare stems and clusters of unripened fruit.
The days (and nights) are warm enough for now; in a week or two I’ll harvest the outdoor tomatoes and bring them inside to finish off. The greenhouse ones should be okay for a little longer but collected by the end of September.
These seem to be doing OK, despite the cooler weather and darker days of the last week in July. I’d already removed what side shoots I could see/reach and some of the larger leaves. I’d rather have a smaller crop of larger tomatoes, than a large crop of small ones that take weeks to ripen indoors. There are plenty of flowers yet to form and – inside the greenhouse – several hover flies buzzing around (which saves me using the duster to pollinate them!
Concerned that these tomatoes would not be visited by pollinating insects (I tend to keep the door closed to retain heat), I invested £3.49 for a set of three mini ‘feather’ dusters. I’m using the blue one to ‘tickle my tomatoes’ every couple of days, and I’ve been checking regularly for unwanted additional side shoots and nipping off any leaves that have started going yellow or are shading out flowers.
I sowed these tomatoes on 13 March – 1 x ‘Yellow Delight’ and 7 x ‘Gardener’s Delight’ survived and on 20 May, I finally got round to putting them in larger (though not their final) pots. The two not in shot are tiny compared to these – and the tallest of these is only 6-7 inches.
The first tomato seeds have been sown. I chose these two only because the packets were already opened and there weren’t many seeds left in either, so it doesn’t really matter if they fail to germinate as I will sow more seeds in a couple of weeks.
With some progress on ripening tomatoes indoors (they need heat not sunlight), and with arctic weather and strong winds on 25 September, I thought it would be better to gather in ALL my unripe tomatoes and bring them into the house, rather than risk losing them.
I sowed my first tomato seeds on the 15th. Ildi, which are a small oval cherry tomato. The packet says ‘heavy cropping’: though mine are not from Thompson and Morgan.
I sowed some last year but not one seed germinated. I’ve sown these in a seed tray instead of a module. There were only seven or eight seeds remaining in the packet and if they don’t germinate/grow this time, then I won’t try them again.
Then, lulled by bright sunshine and dry weather (and my new Tiny Greenhouse nearing completion), I sowed more tomatoes.
Ignoring the far left module (broccoli) we have Super Marmande, Yellow Pear, Moneymaker and Yellow Delight.
I sowed two of each seed in each individual module, so 8 of each, 32 plants in all. If they all germinate. I’ve not grown Moneymaker before so I’m hoping they are sweet and tasty.
Though initially off to a good start, by the middle of the month, I only had 1 x Super Marmande, 1 x Yellow Delight, and 3 x Moneymaker seedlings. No other seeds appeared. I suspect I kept them too damp.
I potted them on into 3 inch square pots, and sowed additional Super Marmande and Moneymaker seeds in the same sized pots. I’m beginning to think sowing seeds in small modules is not the most efficient way to go.
I didn’t bother sowing anymore of the Yellow Delight as I didn’t think they had much flavour last year. But I’ve still got some seeds left so might try again.
This is the result at the end of the month. Some of the first sowings should seen be ready for a larger pot; some of the second sowings are coming along. ALL labels have faded so I don’t know which is which anymore.
My problem is that I either overwater or leave them to dry out. So I’m going to start off more Moneymaker seeds using the self-watering propagators I made from 1 litre lemonade bottles. That way they can take up just the right amount of water they need, and I don’t have to worry about anything other than keeping the reservoir topped up (or they fall over). These have been a great success with salad crops.
I had hoped my tomato plants would be larger than this by the middle of May, but we had a cold snap from the 10th and cloudy skies for much of that week so the new greenhouse was only a degree or two warmer than outide temperatures.
I sowed more Yellow Delight and Moneymaker seeds into a couple of homemade self-watering propagators, but the seeds are slow to germinate. Possibly they don’t like the compost I used; or maybe I’ve over-watered them.
But the purchase of six growbags from our nearest garden centre, meant I could pot them up into something they will like, and I’ve used tall pots which should help with overwatering.
I’ve labelled the ones I know (only because they still had their labels and they were legible), as for the others . . . I’ve re-named them as “No Idea”, “Wait and See”, “It’s a Tomato” and ” That’s Another Tomato”.
The problem is, as gardening guru Monty Don explained on Gardeners’ World, Moneymaker is a cordon tomato. I know how to deal with cordons so will support the one I have labelled with a cane and pinch out side shoots. But the ones I can’t identify will have to get on with things themselves – as they would have done for thousands of years without human interference.
There are plenty more seedlings popping up, though not necessarily where I sowed them. Perhaps they’re old seeds thrown into the compost bin.
My brother has already put his tomatoes in growbags!
I have tomato plants coming up in all sorts of odd places. I had several modules sown with tomato seeds and most of them failed to germinate – so I emptied them onto my raised beds (not wanting to waste compost), and some have started growing.
One in with the spring onions. One in the cage where parsnips should be growing. This is a module I gave up on and just left outside. One I potted up from another module,
and another . . . and two more
Again, I now no longer have any idea which varieties they are. And these are the largest (in the Tiny Greenhouse), which I’ve just started feeding ready to go in growbags/pots.
By the middle of the month, I needed to put the tomotoes into their final pots; but I have three growbags and fourteen tomato plants at various stages of growth. I also have gaps in my raised beds!
So the smaller plants have gone into the raised beds.
I started planting these when rain was threatened – and then the sun came out. As Monty Don (Gardeners’ World 19 June) said put your tomato supports in when you plant the tomatoes, I have followed his advice.
By the 22nd, all my tomato plants were either in the raised beds or in pots (the three which I could identify and one other that I’m hoping is Moneymaker) on the patio. The plastic bottles have water-spikes on the end and are supposed to release water as the plant requires. They emptied in minutes even though I’d used two watering cans on them just 30 minutes earlier.
And there are still seedlings popping up here and there. I just jam a garden cane in the ground and tie them in.
So now it’s time to sit back and wait for tomatoes to appear.
In August we had lots of weather that should be good for tomatoes – sun, warm nights and rain!
My favourite gardening guru – Monty Don – suggested that lower leaves should be removed from tomato plants to allow the fruit to ripen.
As his garden is at least 100 miles from mine and probably a lot close to sea level, Monty is lucky to have fruit on his tomato plants. Though I expect most of his are in the greenhouse. Continue reading “The Tomato Diaries”→