Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Challenges Of This Season

One of the main challenges for me this season has been tomato flowers slow to pollinate. This was partly because of a lack of flying insects in the early summer. Also, when you have sunny days, you also have cooler nights in the early summer, and a wide fluctuation between day and night temperatures, which can cause a delay in flowers setting fruit.

The other problem I had was fruit splitting on my outdoor plants. Black Cherry and Sungold were badly affected with just one downpour of rain!

I will change these varieties next season to Chocolate Cherry and Golden Cherry F1 which are supposed to be less prone to splitting or cracking. Another two varieties to add to my list!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Fried Green Tomato Recipe

Fried green tomatoes are popular in the Southern United States and made from green tomatoes (unripe tomatoes that is - some varieties are green when they're ripe!) and coated with cornmeal and fried.

In the UK cornmeal is available in health food shops and is sometimes found in the supermarket called maize meal or polenta.

Traditional preparation of fried green tomatoes begins by cutting the tomatoes into approximately 1/4-inch  slices. They are then seasoned with salt and pepper, coated with plain, coarse cornmeal, and shallow fried in bacon fat for a few minutes each side, or until golden brown.

Shallow frying is preferred, as the tomatoes do not float in the oil, which allows the weight of the tomato to press the cornmeal to the underside of the tomato.

Alternatives include using breadcrumbs or flour instead of cornmeal, and frying in vegetable oil or other fat.

The sliced tomatoes may be dipped in a beaten egg before the cornmeal is added which helps the cornmeal stay in place during the cooking process.

Information from wikipedia.org.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Indian Summer Tomatoes

For those of us who are lucky enough to be experiencing the sunny weather, it's given the tomato plants an extended season. There are new shoots sprouting from a number of the tomato plants around the garden and the cuttings that were taken in July/August have also started producing ripe tomatoes!

It's not unusual to have a spell of good weather in the Autumn, but the past few days have been particularly warm and tomato plants growing in container need watering once or even twice daily.

My list for 2012 includes Golden Cherry F1, Chocolate Cherry, Red Alert, Tumbling Tom (red and yellow) and Oregon Spring.

There are literally hundreds of varieties from which to choose and the seed brochure says good things about all of them - how do we make a decision?

 My plan is to grow varieties that I know will produce a good harvest in my area, plus two or three new ones - split resistant, blight tolerant and disease resistant to start with! That should offer the best chance of success.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Heirloom Tomato Seeds

If you are thinking about growing heirloom varieties next season, you can do no better than get hold of the Plants of Distinction "Simply Vegetables" seed brochure 2012. They also have a website with a very good online selection: http://www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk/acatalog/A-Z_of_Vegetables_TOMATO.html

I would suggest that if you are new to growing tomatoes that you include a cherry variety in your selection as these are usually the easiest and most likely to produce a successful harvest.

Large varieties usually produce a limited yield and take longer to grow - in a poor summer they could run out of steam before they mature and ripen. My favourite large variety is Oregon Spring which is a bush variety and will grow well outdoors in a sheltered position.