Out of all the fruit and vegetables I grow, I’d say it’s the tomatoes I look forward to the most. The joy of that first ripe tomato is augmented by the stop-start, fingernail-biting journey that is the British tomato growing season… Especially when it’s all outdoors.
From start to finish, there is so much to do to get a decent tomato. To get a plant to a stage where it is about to produce a clutch of reddened offerings seems like a mighty feat when you look back on it:
February – Fuelling the flames of Desire
Way back in February, the promise of a garden filled with Mediterranean flavours, warm and intensifying in the (imagined) hot sun, seemed irresistible. Never mind choosing the most reliable croppers for a British Summer… I was bedazzled by the prospect of a salad bowl turned treasure chest filled with these exotic and rare jewels…
March – Optimistic Propagation
The desire to plant early with the thought we might, just might, have a long overdue warm summer.. Or even a heat wave… overpowered any cynical thoughts that it might be better to wait.
April – Potting on…
and on… and on…
May – Doing the Okey Cokey & dicing with death
As the window sills get over run with pots, the decision to put the seedlings out under a coldframe is thwarted by yet another late frost (BTW, I just had to adjust the autocorrect which wanted “Kate Moss” instead of “late frost”… is that a new Cockney Rhyming slangerism?)
June – Making your beds and lining them
Now, where to put all my tomatoes?! With far too many, I end up digging up the front lawn and heaving gert big bags of compost to accommodate the multitude.
July – vigilance and fortitude
Constant faffing about… checking for blight, pinching out, wrestling canes and twine, feeding, watering, mulching… And then willing the sun to shine to get the emerging tomatoes to redden. Come oooonnnn !!!
Then yesterday, the last day of July, I’m about to have another progress patrol when…
I spot this… A small, but healthy, tomato plant growing defiantly out of the rough, dry gravel at the back of the house. Now, how on earth did that get there all by itself?!
I have no idea what variety it is. It is brave and contrary in its Mars landscape so I have decided to call it “Bowie’s Balls” if it fruits. I hope that Major Tom will take that as a compliment, wherever he’s floating.