Firstly, apologies for not responding properly if you sent me a question this past week. My wife and I have just returned home from a week away in Dorset where we had a very poor internet signal but a very good holiday!
Holiday Watering System
I spent the week leading up to the holiday sorting out the automatic watering system which took a lot longer to put together than I had expected. It did work as planned (unlike last year!) and all of the plants are fine.
If you are going away on holiday I can recommend the Hozelock AC1 timer because it worked well. It’s setting up the watering kit of tubes, drippers and connections that’s tricky.
I’ve tried both an expensive and a cheap watering kit and I haven’t found much difference between the two – just make sure that the connections are secure. Dipping the ends of the tubes in hot water (from the kettle) makes it easier to connect the drippers etc.
The Tomato Race
Some weeks ago, in a previous newsletter, I mentioned about growing three extra early varieties (sown at the same time) to see which one would be the first to mature.
The three varieties were Stupice, Latah and Red Alert and I can report that Red Alert is ahead of the others at this stage. I am already picking ripe tomatoes from an earlier sowing of Red Alert from plants that were sown in February.
About Red Alert
This variety produces a very good crop of good size cherry toms – if grown in a large pot or container – and the flavour is excellent. However, it is more difficult to grow, especially when sown early in the season, as it easily becomes “leggy” and behaves a bit like a tall variety.
It’s not until it gets planted in its final position and it begins to bush-out that it starts to act like a bush variety.
Red Alert also sets fruit (pollinates) easily which is one of the reasons why it is so early. I’ll post some photos here tomorrow.
The Five Tumbling Toms
The famous five have all received the same treatment while I’ve been away. It was also a holiday for Brian who got some sun!
They are all beginning to set fruit but it has taken longer this season for the first pea-like toms to appear than in most previous seasons. I’ve been helping the flowers to set manually (see last weeks newsletter – Good Vibrations).
Are My Beefsteaks Deformed?
Large tomatoes grow in segments a bit like an orange. Each segment has to be fertilised separately, and at the same time, for the tomato to grow evenly.
Sometimes one segment grows faster, or is fertilised sooner, than the others and the tomato looks deformed as it grows. This is quite common and the tom should even-out to its proper shape just before maturity.
However, if one or more of the segments have failed to pollinate, the tomato will end up a peculiar shape – still edible though.
Dorset has fantastic fresh seafood and a great variety of pasties – both of which went down very well with a pint of the local brew – but I’m glad to be back home with my tomato plants!