Thursday, 4 October 2012

End of the Tomato year

Excuse the upside down photo-again. This fecking blogger tool does something weird to my photos when it uploads them from the computer though for the life of me I can't figure out why!
Some people have tomatoes in their tunnels and glasshouses up until Christmas (Jack!)but I have always disliked the idea. For me tomatoes are strictly summer crops and once summer is very definitely over I'd rather be done with the tomatoes, clear them out and get stuck into winter crops instead. I like a very definite start and finish to everything so it won't surprise you that I'm not one of those people prone to nursing weak or ill plants either. Out they go, every few weeks or so when I have a major tidy up of the cold frame, the pots and now the glasshouse too. I feel great after it! So on Saturday, despite protests from my husband all of the tomato plants came out of the glasshouse, got stripped of their fruit, cut up and composted and the soil in their pots recycled as top dressing for the newest part of the garden. I'd love to say I washed the pots and put them away but unfortunately that job is still hanging over me.

Tigerella truss ripening through the glass

There was one exception to the tomato purge a Tigerella that Mary gave me. (thanks Mary!)It turned out to be the healthiest of all the tomato varieties I grew this year. It's leaves are still largely untouched by blight(unlike the rest that were riddled with it) and more to the point it has the best crop of the lot with a number of fine abundant trusses still ripening well on the plant. So the Tigerella was allowed to stay, along with chillies, peppers and aubergines that are still cropping well and an amazing little plant called a pepino melon pear that has fab tasting Chinese gooseberries.

Eileen explains about tomatoes to some of this years students

This week at Eileen's I was delighted to see that Eileen shared the idea and has stripped her tunnels of all but the last few plants to make way for winter crops. She is ripening the green ones in batches with bananas. If any of you have never heard of this trick the banana ripens other fruit because it produces lots of ethylene gas-a reason to keep it far away from the other fruit in your kitchen but to keep it cosy with green tomatoes in a drawer or brown bag if you want them to ripen within a week.

Eileen's tunnel collection basket for green tomatoes and cucumbers
I am now bracing myself for a visit to Jack this afternoon. Last night on the phone he told me the tunnel had gone "wild" because he allowed all the volunteer tomato plants to grow-Good God! I'm afraid of what I will see. He said he might not let me go down there-it must really be out of control! God job Mary Knockainey isn't coming with me she would give out yards to him.

Green tomatoes

If you find yourself stuck with a glut of green tomatoes that are refusing to ripen you can make a fantastic chutney out of them. There are lots of recipe's but I have made and really love this one by the great Hugh FW. It also calls for some other things you may have in abundance, courgettes, apples and onions.

Hugh's very funny piece on courgettes and what to do with them

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