Survival of the driest

Toms watered

During these past few hot weeks, I (and many others on our site) have been forced into lugging great containers of water down to the plot from home, due to our butts running dry (so to speak). I’ve done this around twice a week, watering only the tomatoes, courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and beans. Anything else has had to just survive or die. Which includes my surplus tomatoes.

Those in the above and below picture are my main crop of 15 tomato plants, which I have been carefully tying in to their supports, pinching out the side shoots, trimming off any yellowing lower leaves, trying to ensure no leaves touch the ground to avoid getting blight, and like I say, watering twice a week and feeding once a week.

Toms watered 2

They’re looking okay, the fruit coming on well. Still hoping that we won’t get a month of rain in August, as payback for the month of sunshine, and the dreaded blight. But so far, so good.

Toms not watered

This straggly bunch above, are an extra 7 plants that were initially kept as back-up in case of any losses from the first group – the subs if you like, ready to step up to the mark at short notice if required. But then I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them come planting time, and couldn’t find anyone to foster them for me, so decided we’d probably got enough space to squeeze them in somewhere. Oh, come on then, join the party.

But, they could only stay on one condition –  they had to take care of themselves. I didn’t have enough canes for supporting them, but more importantly I don’t have enough time for all the pinching-out and tying-in required. Looking after the main squad is enough work, so these would have to be planted and left and any crops would be a bonus. So, they haven’t been watered, at all, not since I planted them, in all this heat, for weeks, and they’re fine!

Toms not watered 2

Okay, they’re not 100% fine, they’re a little bit … special. But once they get blitzed into a pasta sauce nobody will know!

It does make me wonder whether I’ve been wasting my time with all the watering of the other plants. Admittedly our soil is quite heavy, and so it does hold onto moisture pretty well. It’s dry at the top, but once plants have managed to get their roots down, there is moisture down there.

Plants do amaze me. How the weeds can still continue to germinate and grow in this weather amazes me, how plants can grow in the tinniest gap in a stone wall amazes me. How my blackberry can send a root all the way under my shed from one side to the other and pop a shoot out amazes me. How the couch grass can be smothered in plastic and still grow out to the smallest shaft of light several feet away, or grow inside a plastic bag. They are tenacious things these plants, we mollycoddle them and treat them like our babies (some of us) and yet they’re built to live and to survive no matter what life throws at them.

Except when they get eaten overnight by a slug!

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