Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Tomato Whisperer

Prince Charles talks to his plants (allegedly). I’ve started chatting with the tomatoes. It’s a one way conversation, and I’m not sure if chastising counts as the kind of talking that Prince Charles had in mind, but the tomatoes are being very naughty and I felt that a stern talking to was in order. Sunlight hours are few and far between and the tomatoes should be making the most of this precious time to ripen their existing fruit and should not putting out new shoots left right and centre. The urge to grow is greater than the urge to fruit. Snip off a shoot, turn your back for a moment and 10 new baby shoots sprout in its place. So I’ve told the tomatoes to reassess their priorities and concentrate efforts on chameleon like changes cascading down the vine from green, to yellow, through orange to a sweet tasting red. Throw in a handful of ripening blueberries and I’ve got an edible rainbow!


All I have to do now is perfect my sun dancing techniques and maybe this year we’ll have pots of roasted tomato sauce in the freezer instead of jars of green tomato chutney in the pantry.

In contrast, the aubergines need tlc not scolding, just a few gentle words of encouragement whispered into the folds of their pale purple petals. Please, pretty please, develop into deep purple blobs of aubergine loveliness. I refused to be defeated by last year’s attack of blossom end rot. I know it’s possible to grow aubergines in the UK as I’ve seen the fruits of someone else’s labours on sale in the Co-op supermarket. Much to my annoyance each aubergine was individually wrapped in its own plastic cocoon, so buying one was not an option. No aubergine, no sun, means no bbq’d aubergine slices. But there’s hope yet for my Black Beauty’s. A Christmas bbq perhaps?


Strange how a polytunnel in Wales struggles to recreate the Mediterranean climate for an aubergine and yet appears to provide the perfect environment in which to grow the alien babies of my prolific butternut squash.


If the squash grows much more there’ll be a localised total eclipse occurring in West Wales. Polytunnel in May…


… polytunnel in July……               IMG_4810

Spot the difference! That serious amount of leaf in the middle is a single butternut squash plant. Maybe I accidentally purchased a packet of giant mutant ninja squash.

Meanwhile, back in the house, there’s a chilli jungle growing in the porch.

IMG_4821 IMG_4822

Every jungle has its spiders and ours is no exception. We have Sammy the Spider, who must be at least 3 inches across, probably 6 inches if you pulled him by opposing legs and flattened him out. As Sammy keeps the fly population at bay and protects the chillies from other crawly pests we’ve decided to grant him a stay of execution, although given his size I’m not sure that even the super-charged sucking machine that is our new hoover could handle him. Besides, neither one of us is brave enough to get up close and personal with Sammy. If he reaches Shelob sized proportions and develops a taste for chilli with his flies, we’ll have to send in Nessa and Stevie, have Charlie in reserve if reinforcements are needed, with us huddled at the rear like cowardly hobbits!

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Just heard on Radio Kent -gardening , that the way to ripen tomatoes is to put a ripe banana skin at the base of the plant.