Tomato planting

tomato newly planted

I finally got my tomatoes planted out on Sunday. The weather was glorious, if a little hot and sweaty for gardening. But it’s either this or rain!

I’m growing the same variety as last year, Tamina, which did extremely well for me last year, they have a unusual shaped leaf (potato leaved), but they are easy to grow, seem fairly resistant to bugs and diseases, ripen early compared to other varieties, and delicious too.

It’s a bit hit or miss growing tomatoes outdoors on the plot, I wish I had a greenhouse but I don’t have the space. So long as we don’t get blight, then all is usually fine and I get a bumper harvest and make lots of pasta sauces and ketchup, as well as eating them fresh of course. If the dreaded blight strikes (which it has a couple of years) then I lose the whole crop and do my best to use the unaffected green ones for chutney. You just never know what sort of summer you’re in for.

I’m not growing anywhere near as many as last year. Mainly because the seed was left over from last year and only half of it germinated. That’s probably a good thing though. Last year I had 15 plants in the main bed, 4 in pots at home and another 7 leftover that I couldn’t bring myself to compost and got left to their own devices on the plot where they went a bit crazy. I had a wheelbarrow load by the end of the summer! So this year I have a more modest 9 plants, and only a couple at home.

tomato planting

The good thing is, this means I have more space for them to grow and hopefully will be able to support them better. There are a whole range of different ways that people support their tomatoes, and I’ve yet to find the perfect method. Because I had so many plants last year, I could only give each plant 1 cane for support and it just wasn’t enough. I spent every allotment visit trying to tie up stems that were in danger of breaking from the weight of the fruit. So I’m experimenting with this little arrangement this year, a zig-zag of canes and twines which means each plant is growing in a triangle of supports. This might explain it better:

tomato graphic

I’m sure the theory is that when you grow tomatoes in the cordon method (i.e. take out the side shoots to avoid bushing, and keep one central stem going upwards) that you should only need 1 cane or line of support for the main stem. Now, maybe my side shoot removing isn’t up to scratch, but I still end up with branches that need supporting once they get heavy with fruit and 1 cane is never enough. So I’m hoping that the branches can rest their weary limbs on the twine on 3 sides, and I can do another tier of twine higher up when they get bigger.

I’ve also planted a row of marigolds down the middle to help deter the whitefly.

I don’t know, but you have to try these things out and find what works for you, and the graphic designer in me loves a problem to solve and a nice geometric pattern!

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