This week has seen a mix of hot days, with high humidity, building up to very sultry evenings followed by night storms.

The greenhouse tomatoes have responded well, with some very lush, ripe ones forming (just the Bloody Butcher variety so far, the rest are still green!), the basil has really perked up and filled out, and the two aubergine plants are dripping with purple fruits. The combination of these ingredients, with the addition of garlic, is probably my all time favourite.

After many years visiting Italy for work, it’s somewhere I’d love to return to for pleasure (my dream holiday is a cooking course in Italy). At the moment that’s not financially possible, but with these temperatures and these flavours on the table – fresh, home-grown and, most important, properly sun ripened – I can close my eyes and pretend.

If you eat a lot of basil, or like to make pesto, then one plant can soon get quickly depleted. I have several plants on the go, but I insure I have a supply through the season by taking cuttings. I ‘pinch out’ the gangly growth on a young plant to help it bush out, and then put the pinched out cuttings into fresh water. Refresh the water every day, keep on a sunny windowsill, and after about 10 days roots will appear. When the roots are a couple of centimetres long, I pop each into small pots (filled with compost, make a large, deep hole with your finger, carefully pop in the plant and gently backfill over the roots, then water). Or I  put 3 or 4 together in a larger pot.

Basil and tomato ‘pinched out’ cuttings, making roots

You can also do the same with pinched out cuttings from larger plants, like tomatoes and cucumbers. I’m most likely too late this year with these tomatoes (below)… they are quite big shoots, and might come to something in the greenhouse… or they might not. If we get hot, dry weather again, and we are not struck down with the dreaded blight (which often appears in warm, humid conditions), then there could be a (very slim) chance of a couple of autumn toms!







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