Real Men Sow

How Are Your Tomatoes Doing?

In amongst the excitement of National Allotment Week, and posting allotment holder profiles, I harvested my first decent batch of tomatoes for 2011.

I picked a mixture of beafy-steak type ones, cherry toms and normal ones, which weighed a princely 1.1kg. When I arrived at the plot to see a good gaggle of ripe red fruit had appeared on my plants, I was not only delighted, but relieved too.

Tomato Worry
I’ve been worrying about my toms for a few weeks now. The foliage on the plants was very sparse compared to ones I’ve grown before, and many of the leaves have turned yellow and died off. Neighbouring plots were suffering this problem too, which in one way was heartwarming as at least it meant it wasn’t necessary anything I was doing wrong!

As a result, I don’t think I’m going to get any where near as many tomatoes as I did last year. I’ll definitely not need a day off work for Tomato Chutney Making Day, as I did in 2010, so with all this in mind, I’m just glad of a harvest.

Slow to Ripen
The tomatoes that are there have also taken an age to ripen. I’m sure I was picking kilos and kilos of fruit well in July last year, but then if I recall correctly the weather was a great deal hotter.

Is It the Weather?
Me and mum were pondering the temperature earlier in the week. Although it has been hot this summer, I don’t remember many full on sunny days. There has been quite a lot of low level cloud, and the days haven’t been particularly bright. This is entirely anecdotal, but kind of makes sense to me when I wonder why my toms have stayed green for so long. Around here, it’s been very humid, but I’m guessing that my toms could do with some more actual sunlight (couldn’t we all?).

Not As Juicy
Another thing I’ve noticed with this year’s crop is that they’re not as juicy as usual. I’m putting this down to a lack of water, mainly because of my general bone idolness, masquerading as a How Much Do I Really Need to Water? experiment. I’ve learnt a lesson there: get off your bum and water more.

I really should have got my finger out, as I do know better, thanks to my bush tomato container plants in the garden at home. I’ve grown these three years running, and they’ve always been much drier to taste than their succulent allotment counterparts. I’ve put this down to the containers needing watering much more than I end up committing to.

I’m not sure I’ll grow the container plants next year. My back garden is north facing and doesn’t get a lot of light, so the bushes are not that productive. I might replace them with some chard, and other leafy veg that’s more suited to shady spots.

However, despite my difficulties, I’m counting tomato blessings. Poor old Jo, who I featured as part of my National Allotment Week profiles, had blight at her plots, and had to pull all 17 of her plants up. On an allotment level, that’s nothing short of a tragedy, and I was gutted for her when she told me.

So if we could all have a collective ‘chin up’ for Jo, then that would be grand.

As they say down the plots, there’s always next year…

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6 Comments

  1. Susanc2August 16, 2011 at 6:47 pmReply

    My tomatoes have struggled, too, even in 90-degree days. One in a container droops at the slightest sign of heat, while the other doesn’t — same variety, (“Sugarsun”) same soil, same sunny Colorado porch. It’s a gamble every year. I was picking last night, came in and found I had a little green one tangled in my hair!

  2. Claire BensonAugust 17, 2011 at 5:45 pmReply

    I’m quite jealous. Mine still aren’t ripe at all. Although I did have a couple that fell off when I was tying them up. I put these on the windowsill just in case they would ripen and they started to ripen on Sunday.

    I’ve become quite dispirited about my tomatoes of late. I’m growing 4 varieties: Heritage Seed Library “Ryders Midday Sun”, Chase Organics “Sun Gold” (which is supposed to be an early!), Tamar Organics “Roma”, Tamar Organic “Chadwick Cherry”. Last year my tomatoes started to turn red on the 14th August. The garden is a patio garden (lots of stone and brick to retain any heat) and is south facing. So I really am disappointed and don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

    I water everyday and feed with worm tea from my wormery once a week.

    So this morning I picked the fruit that look like they are just about to turn and are fully developed and put them on a south facing window.

    Don’t want to be tomato-less this summer.

    I hope someone sends Jo some home grown tomatoes. Can really empathise with that pain.

    Claire

  3. Ronnie/Hurtledto60August 17, 2011 at 7:37 pmReply

    Well Jono I am glad someone somewhere has red ripe tomatoes. If mine dont do something soon I will be looking up recipes for green tomato chutney!

  4. Vicky SquiresAugust 18, 2011 at 8:36 amReply

    Same problem here in Devon. Getting some ripe tomatoes now, but I’ve had loads of trusses that haven’t set. The flowers just turn yellow and drop off.
    My guess is it’s the weather. Although we’ve had some bright sun here and there, generally I think it’s been much cooler and darker than last year.
    I’ve started keeping my greenhouse door shut, and some more have started to set now. A variety new to me – ‘Harbinger’ – has done quite well, but my French ‘Super Marmande’ and Italian ‘Costoluto’ and ‘Cuor de Bue’ have been very grumpy! Don’t think they’re convinced that my greenhouse is a substitute for proper Mediterranean sunshine!

  5. Jono

    JonoAugust 18, 2011 at 12:38 pmReplyAuthor

    Thanks for all your comments. Sometimes I wonder if there really is no rhyme nor reason to toms. 90 degree heat sounds perfect for them!

    I was tweeting with @aplottoofar last night, and they were wondering whether putting some bananas in amongst the toms would bring them on. Neither of us had tried it, but it sounded an interesting idea to me.

    Love the more diverse varieties you guys are growing. Going to be more adventurous next year, as I’ve stuck to the tried and tested ones.

    And Ronnie, although not as good as fresh toms, I’d recommend green tomato chutney as a good alternative! I’ve got a few jars left that are approaching a year old, and they’re delicious.

  6. OutofmyshedAugust 18, 2011 at 5:02 pmReply

    Hi Jono,I have to admit that I’ve got terrible tomato watering habits, so surprised and delighted too that I have any ripe tomatoes in my growbags and pots at all. However, due to crap watering, some ripe tomatoes did have Blossom End Rot-only myself to blame. A neighbour, and fab tomato grower, says that you should water twice a day in growbags (Hmm), but now grows all his tomatoes in the soil, cuts off all side leaves and has tall trained plants growing up strong posts with loads of trusses ripening. Very jealous. As to ripening, have been told that it is a good idea to leave ripe tomatoes on plant to encourage green tomatoes to ripen-as ripe fruit gives off Ethylene, a ripening agent.
    Last thing, off to Victoriana Nursery in Ashford, Kent on Saturday as they have a tomato tasting day with 30 varieties to sample. Well, there’s always next year!! V.best Naomi x

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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