Thursday, 17 September 2015

Grandad Didn't Grow Tomatoes

The back garden, which was very large, was almost entirely given over to root vegetables.  Row upon row of potatoes, carrots, swede and parsnips were intercepted with wigwams of runner beans, cabbages and cauliflower.

He grew fruit too.  There were raspberry canes, red, black and white currants and, in season, strawberry runners spread along the ground with their jewel like fruit.

Grandad was a traditional gardener and he had no time for pesticides.  He would hand pick the cabbage white caterpillars from his vegetables and feed them to the chickens.

He spread straw under his strawberries to keep the slugs off  and prevent the fruit rotting in the damp soil (slugs don't like the sharp edges of straw on their soft bellies)

He grew marigolds between his runner beans as the slugs and snails would eat these first and he encouraged earthworms with regular digging between the rows, keeping the soil open to allow them an easy passage.

Most of my memories of Grandad are of him working in his garden, his flat cap always on his head.  In summer his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a spade or a fork in his hand.

Grandad was a prolific gardener just as my Grandmother was a prolific baker and everything he grew was either used fresh, stored for winter or turned into jams and chutney.

The large built in wardrobe to the side of the fireplace in the large front bedroom was filled with jars and bottles of homemade strawberry and blackcurrant jam, redcurrant jelly, homemade mint sauce, green bean chutney and homemade pickles.

My tiny garden doesn't allow me to grow very much but I aways have a few tomato plants.

This year they went wild!

I grew some as I always do in the large Belfast sink outside my kitchen window. 

The rest I planted in a small patch of earth at the end of the garden.

We must have had just the right amount of sun and rain this year.

This is how they looked at the beginning of August
And they grew MUCH bigger completely smothering my lavender (which was growing alongside the arbour) and taking over the decking as well as rendering half of my washing line unusable.

Eventually I decided I'd better prune them a little to allow me access to my garden and to expose some of the fruit so it could hopefully ripen.

Well, apart from a handful of fruit (mostly from the Belfast sink plants) NONE of my fruit has really ripened.

I have and abundance of green tomatoes which, due to the change in weather (and it's FAR to soon in my opinion for it to be Autumn) my tomatoes are starting to split because they are waterlogged and the slugs are having a field day eating them.

I have to make a decision!

So far I'm leaving them in the hope that Summer will return and we will have a few sunny days to ripen them.

If that doesn't happen in the next week or so then I will have to either pick them and cook them while they are green (nothing wrong with green tomatoes and they are perfectly ok to eat, just not as sweet as when they are red) OR, I have to try and ripen them inside.

The problem is the time and space it takes to do this.  I've read up a little on ripening tomatoes and they need to be laid out not touching each other in a box somewhere not too hot and it can take between 2 weeks and 3 months for them to ripen!

I don't really have the time or the space for this and to be honest, I want my tomatoes NOW.  I want the summer back (last year I was wearing shorts on the 1st of October in Cornwall!) and I want to be eating my tomatoes in a salad.

It could happen, fingers crossed, who knows what might happen with the weather in England.

Meanwhile we are full on for picking the Bramleys and Blackberries this weekend if it stays dry.

The Blackberries at the farm are a little late this year due to the lack of sun at the crucial time and if it isn't dry for a few days then they too will become waterlogged and start to rot.

It's not like I NEED any more blackberries, I still have plenty in the freezer from last years bumper crop but I hate the waste and I love blackberry picking.  It's such a gentle soothing way to spend a couple of hours ...


joeh said...

The only thing I can grow is impatient. Good luck on the weather and the tomatoes.

Val said...

Do you get tomato hornworms? Like this?


I hate them! They eat the whole back out of a tomato, and when you go to pick it, your hand goes into the gooey center, and then you get ahold of the tomato hornworm, and SCREAM until your husband runs out and grabs that tomato hornworm and pinches it until it poops out a bunch of tomato seeds and dies between his thumb and forefinger.

Sarah said...

Fingers crossed Joe - I'm not really a gardener but I find that if you give stuff loads of water and stare at it really hard it's usually ok.

OMG Val - I'd never heard of those before! I've googled them and we DO get them in the UK.

I'm not telling SD about them but I WILL get him to pick the tomatoes in future!

Holly Hollyson said...

Fingers crossed they grow! My Grandad and Nanna were the same, they loved their little garden. It was so neat and orderly.

Kay G. said...

Fried green tomatoes! There's your answer all right!

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

I also have an abundance of green tomatoes. I didn't know about the splitting thing but I've got that going on too so I think I should pick them all. xx

Sarah said...

I think we have reached critical point Holly and I have to pick them green or not.

Ha ha Kay, that might just be the answer!

I think so too Emma Kate, some are starting to turn black before going red but the forecast is for sun all week so some might be saved. The weather just hasn't been right for them for the last few weeks. Such a shame as I had a huge crop! xx