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Sustainable Cupar FAB - Karen's tomato blog


"Ripening success

The latest episode of my tomato growing adventure illustrates that after pride comes a fall. Storm damage in early August resulted in one main branch bending at the base. This has meant a loss of no less than 11 flowers and buds. Although sad I do need to recall that this is an adventure in tomato growing and quantity is not the mark of success. The plant continued to thrive during the humid weather and grew bushier and taller. Once the expanding branches had been staked this one plant revealed a burgeoning 19 fruits and 50 flowers with buds. Interestingly the green round fruits look remarkably like gooseberries (see pic). The volume of rain had shifted the raised soil levels around the roots and the base stem showed new root growth. This has now been recovered so it will be interesting to see if there are any off-shoots. Overall it has been a month of waiting and anticipating. As the season has now progressed towards autumn the final ripening will depend upon enough hours and strength of sunshine. In all though (and without wishing to jinx the process) it seems that my first adventure in growing tomatoes with no experience or protective environment is bearing fruit!"

karens blog
karens tomato

month 4

Going from strength to strength

My adventure in tomato growing is producing evidence of success. Planting the precious one off plant within the veg bed during the rainy season (June) has resulted in a bushier plant that needed training around its support. The emergence of yellow flowers augured well. Fortunately I met a tomato growing expert at a social evening who offered good and bad news. As this is an annual the plant should already be producing buds that resemble tomatoes. In order to achieve this with a single specimen I would need to act as pollinator. This is rather surprising given my garden's location. You may be aware of the global concern for the number of bees adversely affected by human reliance upon agricultural chemicals. As I live half way between two beehive enthusiasts a population decline in bees has not been noticed around my home. With lavender aplenty and other bee loving plants my garden provides a popular service station for when these bees are released. However, as this tomato plant is my first attempt I can take no risks. A small rounded natural fibre paint brush was seconded to lightly brush each open flower stamen and transfer to another. I was advised to conduct this operation during the daytime in bright light. Fortunately the summer arrived at the right time. As the number of buds has now grown to a dozen this is a delicate task. However, I suspect the bees were earlier and more effective as there are now 8 round fruits of varying sizes. Long may the warm weather with intermittent showers continue. More next month....

I will send the photo separately from my phone.

Month 3

"A new home

We, meaning I and the tomato plant, are now acquaintances of three months. The leaves may be a steady shade of yellow but it has survived the hardening off process. As this included overnight in a heavy rainfall I judged the plant could survive if planted in the veg plot. As mentioned before the veg plot is usually dominated by potatoes. I lovingly cleared a patch of ground and carefully removed the plant from its pre-watered tub. As I live at the top of a hill and, as once described by a store gardener, suffer from wind I felt it necessary to secure this precious commodity. You may remember from blog 1 that I have no greenhouse, cold frame, cloche or other means of protection. Discovering spare fresh compost just when needed the tomato plant looks quite content in its new home. Within hours the leaves had straightened as if stretching its arms. Should it though have more buds by this stage? The petals from month 2 have fallen.

From the picture you will see that the plant has two decorative trellis. Initially I wondered if the plant would use this as a support, as used by the sweet peas, or as a support for fleece. To be honest it is more of a protector against my activities in the area. Experienced tomato growers may tell from that remark that I do not know what to expect from this adventure! However, I do not like to be too scientific or prescriptive. In my garden successful plants are those that adapt to the growing conditions. I do however expect to feel more nervous as (if) tomatoes develop when I will be watching the weather forecast more closely.

Until next month .... "

Month 2

Yellow buds

Growing pains

My experiment into tomato growing without a greenhouse or experience continues uneventfully and I was mighty pleased to see several buds develop into fragile, yellow, 5 petalled flowers. However, loving attention is clearly not enough to secure the healthy growth of an indoor tomato plant.

A little online research informed me that tomatoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes from cherry to giant beefsteak. Imagining that I would automatically receive red tomatoes is apparently misleading as they can be green, orange, purple or even striped!

The loss of a lower leaf was not a concern until the second, then third leaf curled, faded and was removed. It was time to consult the Royal Horticultural Society. My plant's symptoms are caused by inappropriate levels of water, light, temperature and nutrients. Watering I remembered and the soil is steadily moist. Tick. Light and temperature? Perhaps the north facing windowsill fluctuates too much. The advice is to place into a 9" pot and harden off for outdoors growing. In an attempt to prevent blotches and physiological disorders I am automatically assailed with fears of is it too late or too early in the season. Not to mention the effects of a less than co-operative summer. Had I discovered how to control levels of sunlight and temperature in Scotland I would have made the proverbial fortune!!

Nothing daunted the plant is being placed in a large pot and allocated a corner of the vegetable plot. Here's to its progress over the next month. Should you wish to attempt tomato growing the RHS advice is available at this link.


Month 1

An adventure in tomato growing

First Steps:

At a recent FAB stall I was persuaded to offer a home to a budding tomato plant. Given that I have no greenhouse, cold frame, cloche or other protective environment this was a leap of faith. It is also a denial of the prevailing conditions of my garden. This blog aims to follow the life of that tomato plant. As I forgot to water it within the first week there may not be many episodes!

With hopeful anticipation I had acquired my first tomato plant with the instructions to remove the side shoots to encourage top growth. At some stage I am to put in a big pot before placing in the frost free outside. As a dedicated potato grower I have developed a plot solely designed for such a purpose. So dedicated am I to preserving this plant that a corner of my veg plot will be converted for this new adventure in vegetable (fruit?) growing. Even the thought of tasty organic tomatoes is not, at this moment, uppermost in my mind. The mere survival and growth of this plant is satisfaction enough.

As you can see from the picture it is sitting on a north facing, light, airy windowsill. So far the bottom leaf has drooped and been removed. A second fading leaf was saved by warm water.

For the more experienced amongst you I will accept advice and wise tips although I tend not to use chemicals and expensive products. Until next month.....

karens tomato
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