I Say Tomato

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.

tomato plants

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.

tiny tomato fruit

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?

tomato ripening


11 Responses to I Say Tomato

  1. frugaldod says:

    I wish someone would offer us any greenhouse, even a small one. With the cold winters here we have such a short growing period … not nearly long enough. You can always share your tomatoes with me….. My daughter and I LOVE tomatoes and my wife LOVES to cook with them 😀 They look delicious, better than mine 😀

  2. Elizabeth Rich says:

    Anyone who turns down already growing tomatoes definitely does not like the creatures! Ours seldom ripen outdoors so we pack them in paper and they slowly ripen. I have had them at Christmas. Hoping to see mor photos of your garden. ESR Harbour Grace


  3. disgruntled says:

    Ha! Come spring round her everyone is always desperate to palm off their surplus tomato plants (greenhouses not so much). Without a greenhouse, they’re a bit of a forlorn hope though. Maybe next year

  4. Martin says:

    I didn’t used to like tomatoes either – until someone fed me a home-grown one … they contain nicotine apparently, so perhaps it’s the drugs?

    You’re absolutely right about the amount of coddling they need. And their somewhat truculent behaviour (I tried talking to mine but they just told me to eff off).

    Mine all get firmly stuck in the garden once they’re old enough and manage to put up with a lot of wind and rain in return for the full sunshine – maybe you’re are pining for the outside? You’re a lot more northerly than me, but I do hear of sucessful outdoor tomatoes even in Scotland …

  5. Next time, and there will be a next time, stick them outside. Mine have to live outside in Edinburgh which is a lot less balmy than your part of the world. They usually ripen eventually

  6. disgruntled says:

    We’ve tried tomatoes outside a couple of times, with no luck. Hopefully next year the greenhouse will be up and running

  7. Charles says:

    Having inherited a very nice cedar greenhouse when we moved to Somerset in 2015 I can say smugly that we are currently self sufficient in tomatoes. Even the plants I had to move outside are doing well on a south facing wall. I never had much success in London, I suspect being retired and having more time to spend on them helps. Oh the peppers are doing well but the chillis are yet to ripen.

    Glass is the way to go! The less said about my beans this year the better. Broad beans and French beans were a disaster, what did grow was tough and inedible. Not enough water. When I say I got better crops out of pots in London you will understand the depths of my failure….

    I suspect that if you do not like tomatoes then you too are probably self sufficient?

  8. disgruntled says:

    I would be self-sufficient in tomatoes but the other half likes them, for some mysterious reason. And there’s always pizza …

  9. Ellen says:

    Delurking to say how much I liked this entry (very), and also that the second photo is amazing.

  10. Viviane says:

    What makes tomatoes ripen is heat, not sun. You can pick them up, and keep them in your kitchen or any warm place in your house and they will eventually redden. Last year a full bowl of tomatoes left in the kitchen became red end of november, more than one month after I unearthed the plant.

  11. disgruntled says:

    @ellen – thank you so much!
    @Viviane – I’m sure we’ll be doing that at the end of the season.

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