Friday, 5 August 2011

Tomato update: beginning of August

It's a good time in the garden. The weather has been typical of high summer - humid, warm, alternating between intense sunshine and torrential rain. We're not basking in heatwave temperatures like the southeast of England, but it's warm enough, especially when the clouds break. In the greenhouse, a new temperature record was set since the last tomato update, of 39.3ºC. Rather than harming them, it seems to have spurred the plants in there on to maturity - fruit abounds, and some of it is turning golden and red.

This has its downsides. The tomatoes require regular attention - a barely-visible sideshoot can grow to half a foot long in a few days. Watering and feeding are major undertakings - although the outdoor tomatoes haven't needed extra water, when I fed all my plants at once recently, it took at least 150 litres of water, and more than half a bottle of feed. Still, they respond to this treatment quickly, by greening, growing, and flowering so profusely, it seems as though they're thanking me. This weather won't last long - maybe six more weeks - so every good deed now counts extra.

I have, as I said in the last harvest update, picked my first fruit
s. 'Gardener's Delight' and 'Jaune Flammée' have proven themselves tough and vigorous, and have earned a place in next year's lineup (yes, I've already started planning). Both were delicious - obscenely concentrated, fragrant, sweet and sour all at once. I can't wait to have enough to cook with. And today, I picked 6 more - five 'Jaune Flammée' and the first 'Costoluto Fiorentino', which was a smallish one pressed against the greenhouse glazing (and was also utterly delicious).

As almost all varieties have set fruit, I've changed the format of these list
ings slightly - with categories for the progress of set fruit, rather than just a tick or a cross. As time goes on, I'll start including harvest totals for each, so I can keep track more accurately. I have also gone back to basics and recounted all my plants, as I felt I'd made some mistakes before, so don't be surprised if it doesn't seem to follow on from what went before...

Black Cherry

planted 1 • plant 108cm tall • flowers open, 9 small fruit set, still green

Cherokee Purple
planted 3 • tallest plant 74cm • approximately 4 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

Costoluto Fiorentino
planted 4 • tallest plant 156cm • 22 fruit set, medium-sized, one harvested, another taking on colour

Cream Sausage
planted 3 • tallest plant 96cm 22 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

Gardener's Delight
planted 5 • tallest plant 120cm • 117 fruit set, two harvested (total 7g)

German Orange Strawberry
planted 5 • tallest plant 60cm flowers just opening, no fruit set

Great White
planted 1 • plant 92cm tall • 1 fruit set, still tiny

Green Zebra
planted 4 • tallest plant 95cm • 20 fruit set, still smallish and unripe

Jaune Flammée
planted 5 • tallest plant 144cm • around 54 fruit set, some taking on colour, 6 harvested (94g)

planted 4 • tallest plant 43cm flowers open, no fruit set

planted 4 • tallest plant 160cm • 36 fruit set, medium-full sized?, still green

Sub Arctic Plenty
planted 4 • tallest plant 74cm • 15 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

Summer Cider
planted 4 • tallest plant 124cm • 13 fruit set, small, still small and green

Sun Belle
planted 3 • tallest plant 210cm 82 fruit set, full-sized?, still green

Super Marmande
planted 4 • tallest plant 133cm • 25 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

I did a thorough census - measuring the height of every plant, and counting all unripe fruit (anything that had certainly started to swell, not including tiny fruit that may yet abort). I'm glad I did. Most have grown a lot - one must have been mis-measured last time, as it lost height, but the tallest plant is a scary 2.1m (nearly 7ft - I am having to train it along the underside of the greenhouse roof!). And a total of 420 fruits, at various stages - many tiny, a fair few approaching full size (especially on the smaller varieties). I picked enough today to have as part of my lunch (on a sandwich) and my dinner (a salad with millet and 'Jaune Flammée', adapted from this delicious recipe). A total harvest of 101g puts me at a shade over 0.2% towards my goal of 50kg - so some way still to go! Nonetheless, I am feeling very positive.

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