I live very close to a tomato nursery and it has been very handy to get fresh tomatoes straight from the vine before they get to the shops. I do grow my own but I also like a bargain and I don’t like waste, so I take the opportunity to buy a 5kg box of ‘seconds’ which I share with friends and neighbours. There is nothing wrong with the tomatoes except they don’t fit the supermarket criteria, but the quality is the same even though they are not a uniform size or shape. They are excellent tomatoes whatever way you want to eat them, however they are from commercial seeds for the professional grower and not available to the public.
The season was slightly longer last year and by October, my box of red tomatoes changed to green tomatoes, it was chutney time. However, in spite of me sharing my tomatoes with other chutney makers, I still had plenty left and gradually they ripened. Just shortly before Christmas I cut into one of the last two remaining tomatoes and found it was full of seedlings. As they were badly entwined I only managed to rescue and repot a few of them. They have been growing very well since and are every bit as good as their parent.
In looks and flavour, they are very similar to the variety ‘Shirley‘. Being able to buy tomatoes this way means I can try different varieties for the table and not for cooking. My plants this year were a bit of a misnomer as I labelled the home harvested seed envelopes simply with ‘tomato seeds’ and when there is a collection over the years of envelopes marked ‘tomato seeds’, the only other name I can use is ‘Surprise’.
The sweetest tomato ever, in my opinion anyway, is Gardener’s Delight. It’s one of the largest cherry tomatoes and my all-time favourite. I also bought organic ‘Gardener’s Delight’ so that I could compare the home harvested seeds against a purchased seed. Fortunately I did label the new seeds but two out of three Gardner’s Delight home harvested plants turned out to be Black Cherry Tomatoes. They had to be good for me to take seeds from them as well though.
My two new varieties were Matina and Berner Rose both heirloom varieties reckoned to be suited to the cooler climate. Unfortunately I found Matina from Germany, lacked a bit of flavour although the one growing in the hydroponic tank was the most prolific. I also grew one in a pot to see what difference there was in flavour and I didn’t feel there was any. Berner Rose was much later than the other plants in being sown and the tomatoes are still green yet. They are a pink tomato from Switzerland and so far they have the puckered pincushion look just like the one in the ‘borrowed’ photograph.
As we are now into September, with some of the vines becoming more and more depleted of fruits, I have made a feeble start to clear out both unproductive plants and a lot of the leaves from the others. The tomato nursery strips the bottom leaves from the stems to allow better air circulation and let more sun in. I had been in the habit of doing the same but it’s pleasing to know that’s what the professional do as well. With the leaves gone and the long naked stems left, the tomatoes look as if they are suspended from the roof of the greenhouse.
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