Kevin Smith's Blog

Day 414 - tomatoes

Monday, 17 October 2011

Phew, what a busy few weeks. I've been up to my armpits in writing, I've had to prepare for loads of photo shoots (the garden's really been put through its paces) and I've been battling with a contagious disease - it really has been quite hectic. I'm not moaning - it just means I haven't been able to write a post for a while, which is a shame. Never mind, here I am now...

I don't know about you, but I've had a very good tomato year. My seeds germinated beautifully, the plants grew on well and I had a plentiful, delicious supply of fruits. I also seemed to avoid most pest and disease problems and the dreaded blight didn't ever reach my dry and sheltered plot - I was very lucky.

I grew my usual 'Gardeners' Delight' along with 'Maskotka', both of which performed really well. My good friend Neil gave me a couple of plants of 'Pomodoro Red Cherry', and Hishtil sent me grafted plants of 'Felicia' to try. All in all, I had a very nice mix indeed.

Interestingly, the grafted plants far out-performed their non-grafted partners, although I can't say I'll rush out to buy them especially next year. I'll sow from seed like normal and if anyone wants to send me grafted plants again I'll gladly take them.

I had a bit of a mental block and forgot that 'Gardeners' Delight' is a cordon tomato that needs pinching out (I have no idea why as I've grown it for years). As a result I ended up with enormous, unruly plants that had to be supported in a comedy cane and string construction. Funnily enough my error didn't seem to affect yield at all, and my unorthodox growing method was a bit of a talking point so I might do it again next year just for the hell of it.

Anyway, that's enough about growing. I think harvesting and eating are the best bits, and I've decided there's nothing bad about a glut of tomatoes. After all, how can something as lovely as this be a nuisance:

I had no end of fun finding uses for the never-ending supply. I used them in straight-forward salads (all the leaves are homegrown too) and salsas:

Roasted them to use in a delicious sauce that Ida loved (it was Neil's recipe):

And I used the final dregs to make a tasty chutney. I used a easy, but yummy, Nigel Slater recipe:

Neil, of Pomodoro and sauce, was really adventurous with his crop and made his own sun-dried tomatoes. It's apparently not as complicated as it sounds and just involves putting them in a very very low oven for a very very long time and then bottling them in oil with lovely seasoning. Neil is insistent I tell you the idea came from Jackie Whittaker of Garden News, but here's a pic of his impressive results all the same:

So, there we are - a celebration of tomatoes. How lovely.

Until next time...

Ooh, I didn't tell you about the contagious disease. I've recently had chicken pox! Arrrrrgh, that's right chicken pox. It was totally horrendous and I'm still accepting sympathy if you'd like to put some my way.

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Kevin Smith | Garden Media Writer and Editor

On 31 August 2010 I quit my full-time job as the Commissioning Editor at Gardeners' World Magazine to be a stay-at-home dad  and to try and scratch a living as a freelance garden journalist. It's often said that a 'life change' is good, but can I cut it with the yummy mummys? Will I manage to get a single shred of work done? Will Ida (she's the gorgeous little girl who's the cause of all this) like gardening as much as me? Who knows, we're going to find out...