Friday, 23 August 2013

I'm harvesting tomatoes

It's tomato time!

During August we have had good growing weather - a mix of warm sunshine and heavy rain. Vegetable plants generally need lots of water if they are to do well, so it is important to keep on top of watering. It seems like a chore when we do it, but the garden will repay our efforts handsomely. In hot weather it is particularly important to ensure that plants in pots and containers (like my tomatoes) do not dry out. Their roots of course cannot just go deeper in search of moisture as plants in open soil can.

My self-watering tomato pots have been a Godsend. The plants in them are by far the biggest in my collection - "Orkado" and "Ferline" - and they would have suffered badly wthout copious quantities of water. This is Orkado, laden with fruit:

It's a toss-up whether Ferline or Orkado will produce the biggest yield. Orkado has more fruits, and fairly even-sized ones too, whereas Ferline has a smaller number, but some very big ones.

Left: "Ferline", right: "Orkado"

A point to note is that sometimes the advent of heavy rain (or an overdose of water applied with a watering-can) after a prolonged period of dry, hot weather can sometimes cause the ripening fruit to split. This is caused by the flesh expanding more rapidly than the skin. This is not the same as cracking, which is something that happens gradually. Splitting occurs quickly.

This is a cracked tomato:

"Russian Black", cracking

And these are splitting tomatoes:

"Black Cherry" splitting after heavy rain - photo from 2010
When splitting seems likely I often pick any fruit that are nearly ripe, and bring them indoors to ripen on a sunny windowsll. Very unripe tomatoes are seldom affected.

As evidenced by the photos in this post, I am already harvesting a lot of ripe tomatoes. I love to have a variety of different types for making salads with. When you are cooking tomatoes for sauce or passata you want them all the same if possible, but salads need different textures and colours! Like this, for instance:

In the salad in the picture above, apart from tomatoes (6 different types), there is lettuce, thinly-sliced shallots, and parsley - all home-grown of course. I added a sprinkling of red wine vinegar just before

Clockwise, from the top: Red Pear, Cherokee Purple, Sungold, Maskotka, Sungella, Orkado, and in the centre Tigerella.

Some of the big Cherokee Purple tomatoes got made into a tomato tart, with puff pastry, pesto and Parmesan.  Super-yummy!

Even "San Marzano" has finally deigned to produce some fruit. I thought it wasn't going to, but on close inspection I find that there are indeed a few fruits lurking in the undergrowth:

This year I have grown several more unusual types of tomato. Like this "Red Pear" for instance. It is one from the Franchi Seeds collection [ Seeds of Italy ].

Actually, that is not a classic example of the Red Pear. It is much flatter than it should be. It ought to be more, well, pear-shaped!

This year, for some reason, lots of the tomatoes - even the normally very uniform "Maskotka" - have produced some abberations, like these:

Well, thay may look odd, but they still taste nice.... :)


  1. I've found splitting to be a problem with my Sungolds. It's too bad, as I have to pick them and eat them all right there when they do that ;-)

    I love the oddities. They have personality.

  2. Beautiful variety of tomatoes, Mark. Enjoy your harvest.

  3. We too have had odd shaped toms for the first time this year Mark. I particularly like the look of Black Cherry (I presume that is the name of the variety?) I must try that next year! May I ask what is your all time favourite tom....? (Especially regards flavour!)

    1. Actually I have not grown "Black Cherry" again (since 2010, that is) because I found it exceptionally prone to splitting, and many of the fruits were wasted. In terms of flavour and yield it was good though.

  4. We too have had odd shaped toms for the first time this year Mark. I particularly like the look of Black Cherry (I presume that is the name of the variety?) I must try that next year! May I ask what is your all time favourite tom....? (Especially regards flavour!)

  5. My all-time favourite is probably "Maskotka" - but it's really hard to decide! "Tigerella" is another really good one for flavour.

  6. I think we have picked about three ripe tomatoes so far that were fit to eat - many are suffering from blossom end t=rot!

  7. Nice collection of Tomatoes Mark, from 8 plants, 4 in the greenhouse 4 outside only 3 have ripened to date. The plants look extra healthy this year, thinking of buying a sun bed for them next year.

  8. Lovely looking tomatoes Mark, I hope mine do as well this coming summer.

  9. Great collection of tomatoes Mark. I'm just growing Sungold this year and they are superb, a family favourite!

  10. Beautiful tomatoes and that tart looks scrumptious! Mine are ripening very slowly and alas, the plants are dying quickly.

  11. That tomato tart looks fabulous as does the pic of all your different varieties on one plate. Any chance you might post a recipe for the tart?

  12. Serene, the tart doesn't really need a recipe: roll out some puff pastry, score a line about an inch from the edge, prick the inner bit (not the edge) [This means that the edge rises, but the inner bit doesnn't]. Spread some pesto over the base; add some sliced tomato; add some grated Parmesan; bake until the pastry is done. Enjoy!

  13. A lovely selection of tomatoes Mark - wish I had that many. I have grown Ferline, on your recommendation, for the first time this year and was really surprised at just how big they are - not such a big harvest as you will get, but I will definitely grow them again next year.

  14. Yum yum yum, tomato tart looks so lovely.
    One never gets tired of tomatoes. They are a staple in the garden and in the kitchen.
    Nice job!

  15. I'm getting a good amount of tomatoes ripening now, enough to share with my mum and dad which I like to do. Can you please let me know where the self watering containers came from. I know they were a gift from your mother in law, but do you happen to know where she got them from? Also, did you ever find any sturdy supports, I know you were trying a couple out? The growbags, cut in half and turned on their ends, have worked really well for me this year. I must do a post soon about my tomato findings this year.

  16. Jo; The new types of cane-supports I tried this year were pathetic - not recommended at all.(I reviewed them a couple of weeks ago). The only ones that were any good are the ones I've had for years, and I haven't been able to find any more of them. The big self-watering planters are made by Stewarts, but mine came from a website called I like them, they are very good - definitely "fit for purpose"!

  17. Nice variety! The tart looks like one I made and it was perfect for breakfast! :)

  18. great, wonderful, feed your eyes ..


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