"Gardening makes my heart bloom" -- mum

"The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat." -- Confucius

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Tomato harvest

Tomato growing was one of my most exciting projects this summer.  Having tried planting tomato seeds many times in the tropics as a child and watching the seedlings flop over at about 3 inches high, I had never attempted growing this fruit again until now.

Early this year, whilst unpacking some boxes, I found a packet of unopened heritage tomato seeds from Diggers Club Australia.  It had been in a box for three years but I thought I would stick some in compost to see if they would germinate. 

It was a lottery as there were eight types of 'heirloom' varieties in the packet.  Amazingly, every single seed germinated.
I tucked some amongst the calendulas as I've read that these plants would help to repel pests.  Others were grown next to the sweetcorn further down the garden and one was planted in a pot. 

It was exciting, watching and waiting, not knowing what variety each plant was going to be until later in the season.

In the end, one tomato plant grew into a bush variety called 'Brown Berry'.  The fruits were juicy and very sweet.  I'd definitely grow more of these next year.
Brown Berry amongst the calendulas
Another plant turned out to be a vigorous growing Grosse Lisse with big potato leaves.  The fruits grew so large and heavy that the entire plant, even with stakes, eventually collapsed onto the calendulas and pea plants behind it.  Stronger stakes next year!
Grosse Lisse in early summer
Four fruits were left after pinching out
Mid-summer after rain
Early autumn
The rest were mid-sized plants which I 'stopped' at 2-3 feet high.  The fruits were elongated with light green streaks but as they ripened, the lot turned to a lovely yellow colour.  It was quite a mystery at first why one yellow fruit would taste so different from another yellow fruit.  After some 'Googling' the penny dropped:  they are two different varieties, Cream Sausage and Banana Legs!

Banana Legs ripening in late summer
Both varieties were prolific and very showy.  The Banana Legs tomatoes thrived in the ground as well as in a pot on the warm patio, the fruit turning into a beautiful canary yellow which remained hanging on the plant like big pendulous baubles until harvested.  The fruit is meaty with a very subtle flavour.  Apparently yellow tomatoes have less acidity and this variety definitely fits the bill.
Pot grown Banana Legs in early autumn
The Cream Sausage tomatoes are, true to their name, a light creamy yellow when ripe.  They are juicy, full of flavour and great for salads.   They grew very well in clay soil and required additional staking when the fruits got bigger.  Due to its thin skin, this variety is favoured by slugs and snails and must be kept off the ground! 

Cream Sausage ripening in mid-summer
The last tomatoes were picked today and none had suffered from blight.  Was it beginner's luck, companion planting with calendulas or wind direction?
Grosse Lisse, Banana Legs and Cream Sausage tomatoes

All in all, a very worthwhile effort and a very tomatoey summer was had by all!  

Brown Berry and Banana Legs tomatoes


Matron said...

What a lovely post! tomato seeds are just so hardy, whether they survive the Winter in your soil, or have them in a packet in a tin for years they always seem to germinate well. I loved seeing all your different varieties, I'm a fan too!

Dim Sum Gardener said...

Thank you! I'm hooked on tomatoes now. Will be trying lots more varieties next year. Drop me a line if you would like to try any of these from this season's saved seeds. Wow, I didn't know they can survive winter in the soil.