Despite not having a greenhouse, yet, and the other half being under strict instructions to repel all attempts by desperate gardeners to give us some, at some point this spring two orphan tomato plants appeared in our porch.
When it comes to growing veg, tomatoes are a bit technical for me – especially indoor ones. You seem to have to do everything for them, from feeding and watering to tying them up and pinching them out and generally ministering to their every need. We seem to have one vine type, which has already split its stem after it grew too tall for its support and fell over, and one bush type which is scrambling everywhere and is likely to grow up your leg if you stand too near it while answering the front door. These ones have been variously repotted, propped up, pruned, fed with something that comes out of a plastic bottle and had to be actually purchased (anathema to me – must go and plant a comfrey patch), watered and generally given a level of care and attention I associate with pets, or maybe even children, rather than plants.
Meanwhile, although both of them look quite decorative in a triffidish sort of way, neither of them has been that keen to actually do the thing that people grow tomato plants for, which is producing tomatoes. The bush one is seems to have one or two fruits per truss and the vine tomato seems to have gone on strike, setting precisely two fruits since I repotted it. Apparently they are self fertile, and all you need to do is gently shake the plants to release the pollen, but it seems that a few bees mightn’t go amiss, or failing that an electric toothbrush, which really does seem a step too far. Otherwise Professor Google suggests that the problem might be that they are too hot, too cold, too humid or too dry, which more or less sums up both gardening-by-internet in general and tomatoes in particular.
Still, despite a distinct shortage of sun this summer at least one of our tomatoes has started to ripen which – given the amount of love and attention I have been lavishing on them – feels almost as if a first-born child was graduating from university.
Did I mention that I don’t actually really like tomatoes?