I started growing tomatoes last April 7th. Since I didn’t have anywhere else to put them so I planted them in pots and boxes on windowsills. I was still recovering from an accident and hobbling around in plaster and on crutches. It gave me something to do and took my mind off my frustration at being stuck in the house.
TOMATOES ON WINDOW SILLS
I bought one plant from Lidl, which was about 12 inches high when I got it. I also started growing tomatoes from seeds – Black Cherry and Orange Strawberry. These were saved seeds I got from our local market in Kinvara. Frank Barrett, who has done a lot of brilliant carpentry work for us gave me some cherry tomato plants also.
They all had to grow on my windowsills for quite a while and my dining room walls dripped green foliage as I waited for the Galway cold and rain to subside enough to move them outdoors.
I had a long wait for a break in the bad weather and by the time the break came we were practically eating in a jungle. (I was growing peas in the dining room as well.) We moved them to a recessed area behind the house where they were sheltered under a Perspex roof.
I fed them with commercial tomato food during the growing period until I read in various places that lots of other gardeners were using a mix of sugar and Epsom salts. I started using this mix and straight away I noticed that I didn’t suffer from nausea when feeding the tomatoes. This is used to happen to me all the time even though I was using organic tomato food.
I also began to feed them with some seaweed feed. We live on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and are very close to the sea. So I have access to all the seaweed I need. I use seaweed as mulch but I also make a seaweed ‘wine’ to feed my vegetables with.
Then I got my greenhouse/lean to built. This was also built by Frank Barrett and I was delighted with the results. At last my fast growing tomatoes had a place and at last I had somewhere to potter and fiddle with the plants.
This isn’t my first time growing tomatoes. The last time we were renting a place and couldn’t have a greenhouse. I had one of the cheap plastic Lidl ones but the Galway winds blew it down the road, taking my plants with it. The wind was so bad I couldn’t really do a salvage job on them until it died down and by then there was a lot of damaged plants and empty pots. I didn’t cry but I was very sad.
Without my little plastic greenhouse, the surviving tomatoes had to stay outside. Although there appeared to be a healthy crop of green growing tomatoes, they never managed to turn red before tomato blight hit them like a bolt from hell and turned every single plant to muck.
A GOOD KICKING
Again, I didn’t cry but this time I was very, very sad and let’s say some empty plant pots got a good kicking…
Anyway, that was then and this year I am filled with tomato hope again. With the greenhouse finished I began the enjoyable though fiddly task of repotting the tomatoes. By this time were begging to be taken out of their claustrophobic plant pots.
I re-homed them in some of the large collection of old pots I had built up over our renting years and added a spoonful of the Epsom salts mix to the soil directly under where the roots of the plants were going to sit.
Once they moved into the greenhouse it was much easier to handle them. I could use the hose to water them and they seem to have thrived very well. I did seem to have a long wait for the tomatoes to grow but when they did, most of them came on strong and juicy looking.
The plants got very busy and bushy. My friend, the fish man (who delivers fresh fish every week and is my chief adviser on vegetables) told me that the bushiness wasn’t good, as the foliage takes the goodness from the growing tomatoes and provides unwanted shade for those other tomatoes that had yet to turn red.
So I got the secateurs and got started. At first I was I was half afraid of killing the plants. I remember seeing the landlord hacking mercilessly at the trees in the garden of one of the rented houses were in.
I had been puzzled when I noticed that despite the hard work, he seemed to be enjoying it in some macabre way but once I got going myself I lost my fear and soon learned the fun of hacking. I get it now! Not that the way I hacked was in any way macabre, you understand. No, I hacked gently…
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TOMATO EVER
Macabre or not, it didn’t take more than a couple of days to see the difference my hacking made and the still growing tomatoes began to turn red. This one below was the very first and it tasted like no tomato I’ve ever tasted before – beautiful and no, I am not biased.
I am very happy to say that more of them are turning red as I type. For now – I’m going to get busy finding ways to use up the abundant crop I’m hoping for.
Back soon – Grace
P.S. By the way if you are interested in tomatoes you may be interested in reading about the strange little potato/tomato plants I found growing in my flower beds.