It’s That Tomato Time of Year Again
It’s that time of year again. It’s tomato time. I have been growing tomatoes with varying degrees of success for a number of years and every year I ask myself the same thing. Is it worth it? Well, I can honestly say that, in my opinion, it definitely is. Despite the constant fear of blight, bugs and the myriad of diseases that tomatoes can get, I just can’t help it. Each year I plant tomatoes. I plant a LOT of tomatoes. Red ones, orange ones, yellow ones and last year, even black ones. I just can’t get enough of them.
So, what have I learned over the years. Well, I have learnt that despite all your best efforts, blight, bugs and diseases happen. Although there are things you can do to postpone them and to minimise the damage. Sadly, eventually, something will come along and you will lose some of your crop to one problem or another. Last year, it was caterpillars. Big, ugly, tomato-chomping caterpillars and blight. We never did find out conclusively if these caterpillars were the cause of the chomping but there were quite a lot of them and the tomatoes were well and truly munched.
Then, to add insult to injury, the tomatoes that weren’t destroyed by being eaten, got blight. I confess, it was mostly due to poor tomato plant management. We were very new to growing in a poly tunnel. We had far too many plants in there and we didn’t strip back the leaves on the plants to allow enough airflow between them. Live and learn I guess and we have rectified the problem this year. Possibly a little too much. Some of our plants are looking a little sparse in the leaf department although happily, the tomatoes are doing great.
Last year, we also had a massive disaster. The wire that was supporting the strings that were supporting the tomato plants snapped. The plants all fell over and it looked like a jungle in there! When we grew tomatoes outside, we simply used bamboo canes. When growing in the poly tunnel, the risk of puncturing the plastic was an ever present worry so we went with wire strung between the hoops and string to support the plants. It worked fairly well until the wire snapped. Note-to-self ….. use baling twine instead of wire it’s strong and virtually indestructible.
This year, however, we went back to canes. Normal straight canes for the tomatoes planted in the middle beds where there is enough height to avoid punctures and we went with curved canes for anything remotely near the sides of the tunnel so as to avoid costly holes in the plastic. They have worked really well but once again, I planted WAY too many plants and we once again have a bit of tomato glut.
Oddly though, I actually love having a glut of tomatoes. They’re one of the few things that it’s easy to process and store. Usually, I just pop them in a tray with some olive oil, a few garlic cloves and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper and turn them into roasted tomatoes. From there, you can make them into a delicious sauce to pour over pasta, turn it into soup or use it as a base for things like chilli, spaghetti bolognese or, my favourite, moussaka using our own home grown aubergines, onions, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. You can find the recipe for my favourite Moussaka dish HERE