The Year of the Tomato

Given that the clocks have changed, I thought it was about time I posted this reflection on my growing summer.

Lotos Vine mid summer

Whilst I have been tweeting more irregularly this year about my gardening and vegetable growing, anyone following me will be well aware of my success with tomatoes this year. I don’t think I am alone in that, and the year seems to have been good everywhere. But all good things must end and as the vegetables die back, I offer my annual reflection. Last year’s can be found here.

The star of the greenhouse was probably the tomatoes. All varieties (Rose de Berne, Galina, Red Cherry, Green Zebra, Dr Carolyn Pink, Dwarf House and especially Lotos) were prolific. The only issue was one Green Zebra vine which had blossom end rot, but the rest of them made up for that, especially well into September. The plum tomatoes (Roma, San Marzano) did well outside, and Tigerella (a donation) had a very good year. I am still ripening a few in the house.

Elsewhere the peppers (Semorah, Golden CalWonder) were a very successful introduction as was the cucumber (Early Fortune). My chillies (Palivec and de Cayenne) have been great, and a donated Hungarian Hot Wax chilli produced late fruit.

Less good were the courgettes (Verdi di Milano) which began very well, but then sulked in the hot weather. A similar story occurred with the aubergines (Ronde de Valence) which set lots of fruit (and some ripened early) but then stopped dead and left me with a load of unripe aubergines.

In the garden itself the potatoes (Salad Blue, Red Emmalie, Casablanca, Maris Peer and Belle de Fontenay from Potato House) have been OK, but I think I under-watered them early on and so the yield suffered. The runner beans (Czar and a new introduction Rhondda Black) have done very well over a long period. Red onions, garlic and beetroot (all from local garden centre) were OK, but then I am not really sure I know what I am doing with them – though learning. My squashes failed.

Fruit wise the two re-potted (18 months ago) blueberries have produced very well and the plum and the apple tree did their jobs, though the latter remains small. The tree is not in the best place.

Rhondda Black

Overall, a lovely summer weather wise in the main and an enjoyable and productive gardening year.

As a final note I am trying to keep my own tomato seeds for the first time to sow in early spring. It will be interesting to see if that works. I feel slightly guilty at not buying as much from Real Seeds (where most of my seed comes from) but having had success with keeping chilli and runner bean seeds I want to try the tomatoes.

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students.
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