Tag Archives: tomatoes

Sowing plan – peppers, chillies, aubergines, and tomatoes

The miserable days of winter might dissuade one from venturing forth to the plot, but it is the ideal time for reviewing one’s seed collection, browsing catalogues, and deciding what to sow in the coming season. Whilst there is generally some time left for this task, some plants need an early start for best results, so it was time to look through the seed box and check the pepper, chilli, aubergine, and tomato seeds, which will probably form the first sowings of the season, any time from the end of January through to March. Peppers, chillies, and aubergines generally take a couple of weeks to germinate and are not too quick to get established, so are good candidates for early sowing. If the germination or early growth of the first batch is poor, there is then time for a further sowing. Tomatoes germinate more quickly and establish themselves much more readily, so I tend to sow those two or three weeks after the peppers. Continue reading

The stored tomatoes begin to ripen

Tomatoes ripening in storage

Just over a week after putting our unripe tomatoes into storage, it was time to see how they were doing. I had already taken 2.5kg of green tomatoes to make a batch of chutney, and now it looks as though there are enough ripe tomatoes for a couple of portions of sauce. We found two or three with moulds forming and relocated them to the compost. I suspect they would store rather better if there were not so much grey mould about when we harvested them. Nonetheless, we are quite happy with their progress so far. Continue reading

Green tomato chutney

My grandmother first introduced me to making preserves many years ago, when she taught me how to prepare pickled shallots and raspberry jam. I have since expanded the repertoire and now enjoy making a range of pickles, chutneys, jellies, and jams. As we were recently forced to harvest our tomatoes thanks to the onset of grey mould amongst the glasshouse and polytunnel crops, it seemed like a good time to make some more green tomato chutney. Continue reading

Botrytis brings an end to the tomato crop

Grey mould has quickly overcome this tomato foliage

Grey mould, caused by Botrytis cinerea, has struck both the glasshouse and polytunnel tomato crops. Spores of this fungal disease are generally present in the environment and typically infect dead or dying plant material. In theory, grey mould could cause problems at any time of year, but in order to develop significantly, a certain amount of moisture is necessary along with cool temperatures. Under cool and humid conditions, though, the spread can be very rapid indeed, resulting in extensive damage to both plant and fruit. The high levels of humidity brought on by the recent rains along with cooler autumn conditions have allowed grey mould to develop amongst the tomato vines, so action was taken to rescue as much as possible of the remaining crop. This is a bit of a shame, as we are probably still several weeks away from the first frost, and are forecast a few more days of good sunny weather. Continue reading

Pesto Trapanese

CT and I were recently watching an episode of “The Young Montalbano”, in which, as an aside, inspector Montalbano searched, in vain, for a jar of Pesto Trapanese, much to his housekeeper’s disgust. Having prepared the classic Pesto Genovese many times, I was curious to find out what this Sicilian variant was all about. After researching various recipes, I came up with what would seem to be a reasonable approximation of the dish. Continue reading

Fruity chilli sauce

Homemade chilli sauce

Autumn is a great time to consider preserving some of the fresh garden produce in the form of pickles, chutneys, and sauces. Today I experimented a little to create a new recipe for a hot but fruity chilli sauce. I exploited the seasonal harvest of ripe tomatoes, Bramley apples that are just ripening, and all sorts of fresh chillies, along with shallots and garlic from storage. Continue reading

Processing the tomato glut for the winter

The tomato glut has begun

With four dozen tomato plants, a glut is inevitable, as the larger fruits start to ripen en masse. Unlike some crops, where a glut is rather indicative of poor planning, with tomatoes, that is exactly what we want. Today, CT harvested a trug full of ripe specimens for putting away for winter use. I would, at some point, like to try my hand at bottling, but for now will be doing the same as in the past couple of years – cooking down the tomatoes, packing into 500ml pots, and freezing. Continue reading

To feed, or not to feed

Padron chilli peppers

Tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers, and other such crops, need good fertile conditions to grow well and continue cropping throughout the season. Tomatoes in particular put on a considerable amount of vegetative growth, and produce a large amount of fruit. Providing sustenance is therefore important. Conventional wisdom suggests that feeding should commence as the first flowers appear and continue at, as a minimum, weekly intervals, with a suitably formulated feed, that is, one that is high in potash and relatively lower in nitrogen, to support fruiting rather than encourage growth. Some also advocate the use of a balanced feed prior to fruiting, although I suspect that this is not often necessary.

However, I am rather of the opinion that reliance on liquid feeds is rather unsatisfactory, and where at all possible, feeding of the soil is to be preferred, not least because it removes a burdensome task. It is the time of year, though, that I examine the plants closely to see whether a liquid feed is indeed needed – whilst I prefer not to, I do not allow the plants to suffer unduly through lack of nutrients. Continue reading

Tomato taste test

The dark days of winter, when much of the garden is tucked up in bed, waiting for the warmth and sunshine of spring to arrive, is the usual time for perusing seed catalogues and drawing up planting plans. However, it is now, when the harvest of summer and autumn produce is in full swing, that one ought to review the successes and failures of this year’s sowings, and consider which varieties are worth growing again next year and which might better be replaced with something new. Tomatoes are one of our favourites crops – indeed, if I could grow only one thing, tomatoes and chillies would be fighting it out. So, with the glasshouse full of ripe cherry tomatoes, and the larger sorts in the polytunnel not too far behind, we took some time to undertake a taste test, as well as noting which varieties have grown well or otherwise. Continue reading