Outdoor Tomatoes

Posted in All posts, September, October, on

Every year, as winter turns to early spring, I dig out my box of vegetable seeds and set out the packets marked "Tomato".  I have a handful of reliable favourites that I always grow, including Sungold, Ferline and Golden Sunrise, and each year I also try two or three new varieties.

There are so many to choose from, and it's a winter pleasure to spend a dark evening poring over catalogues, reading tantalising descriptions and picking likely candidates for the coming year.  I don't have a greenhouse, mine are simply grown in the soil, so I try to choose ones that are relatively happy outside.

 I say relatively happy, because I often think at this time of year that none of my tomatoes are particularly happy with the damp chill of a British September.  They do well enough throughout the summer, unless the weather is exceptionally bad, but right now I still have masses of green fruits and I know that as far as the harvest is concerned, the end is nigh.

Tomato close up

I've picked quite a few already, especially the cherry tomatoes such as Sungold and Gardener's Delight.  In fact they always seem to do well for me, I suspect because their size allows them to mature and ripen quickly.  But the bigger varieties take a while to grow, and it often seems that the cool weather arrives too soon for them.  This year's best find has been Orkado.

It's produced well and ripened nicely so far.  Overall I've enough tomatoes for salads and a few jars of tomato sauce for winter pasta, but a tomato glut is not something that I'm likely to have.

Tomatoes on the chopping board

Nonetheless, I would never want to be without tomatoes in the garden.  They remind me of childhood teas of tomatoes, lettuce, spring onions and cucumber, all from the garden, with cold meat and brown bread.  A sun-warmed tomato is a true summer pleasure of the garden.  The flavour is far beyond anything the supermarket can offer, and the scent of their leaves takes me straight back to my father's greenhouse.

 Yes, nostalgia, together with that utterly delicious taste and the perennial hope that next year will be a good year, that's why I'll always keep growing tomatoes.

Green tomatoes

Thanks for reading!