Monday, 11 April 2011

The return of the tomato guzzling cellist......

The cellist returned at the weekend from her fathers in France, clutching her newly awarded grade 5 marks in her sticky little mitt and donning her 'grade 5' new converse shoes - which for some odd reason as I returned from egg patrol (still 8 eggs a day by the way - even over the winter...(?)) the new converse of wonderus purple were outside the front door - abandoned in the manner of a blown up witch in Wizard of Oz.
I've seen the child since, she's fine (not blown up), the shoes were left outside 'getting a bit of the view at home' well that the explainaton I got! As they were purchased on the nano-micro adventure to Edinburgh, they didn't know Orkney as of yet. Clearly taking in the view then..........? Just home, she was off to get a jumper and more layers on, Orkney it would seem is not as warm as France in early April, who would have guessed that?!
This girl child, when not playing the cello, reading books or generally being very silly is an olympic consumer of pasta - which generally requires homemade pasta tomato sauce to be made and frozen by the shipping frieght container load. Therefore we grow tomatoes to feed this insaitable gannet.

Previously I'd given up on growing tomatoes - no one here really likes them fresh except for me - and until I discovered bush tomatoes I'd always found growing them a bit of a faff. But, bush tomatoes and easy growing go hand in hand. Perfect for your lazy tomato grower. Perfect for sauce making, freezing a la canon ball stylee (link below) - perfect for eating. No fuss food - thats what I require in my life. I tell myself this is because I am a very busy person, realistically I'm just a bit slap dash and more than a bit lazy. I've far more interesting garden type things to do than tend the noble tomato and its 'diva' treatment of tying in, feeding, pinching out side shoots etc. If it doesn't grow with ease, is easily prepared or frozen - then it doesn't have a cats chance in this lazy household. I'm all for the no-faff tomato no diva types. I grow them to freeze them like this........make sauce with them when I need them or have the time. Often made in batches, which are then frozen into portions, available as and when required, to sate the child.

Anyway - the lovely littleblackfox (who thankfully aint dead!) mailed me some hardy ba*tard seeds four of which were for a 'ridiculusly early lettuce leaved tomato' grown for short seasons might do well in the frozen north of the UK? I hope so - and here they are - all four germinated and are up for the task ahead. I've used a very high tech method as you can see - one kids ikea serving dish, plastic - yellow a nice contrast. Four jiffy 7 plugs, 4 free seeds - 4 very healthy plants not very long after sowing. I'm really looking forward to finding out if this variety recommended by LBF will work much better for far, so good.

Anyway in time for our new 2011 adventure in growing our own food - how many tinned tomato equivilants can we get from a plant? - Latah are now the leaders in this years 'grand tomato growing national'. ............and they are off! How many tinned equivilants will we get this year????

They they are in their new home, having been woken up in their own little jiffy 7 sleeping bags, (I don't do pricking out - but thats a tale for another day) anyway these were then potted into a 9 cm pot - and now they are settling into their convertible exclusively located window box, with a nice view of Hoy and the garden, residing in the living room. I've 13 windows in there, we've alot of windowsills to fill up! I grow in window boxes, don't drill out the holes for drainage and water everyday at least once. I grew my whole crop like this last year and my chillis too. Even a window sill can provide food for a family. Not high tech at all. I grew chillis, sage, lettuce, tomatoes, basil, parsley and a few other morsels only on a window sill (admittedly a few windowsills) but if I can do it on an island, in the north of the UK with a very short season, anyone can! Here is a bit of the jalapeno harvest......and a goodly bit of sage - from one pot plant - sage doesn't do well out in my garden - too exposed so I grew it as a house plant - and lovely it was too! Give indoor growing a go. Functional houseplants really do work hard for you.

Other tomato varieties I'm growing so far are totem (bush), tumbling tom (bush), marmande (diva), andes (heritage diva one), lemon drop (diva), lilliput (bush) and others the names of which escape me right now. Last year I grew 3-5 in a window box - this year I'm taking that down to 2-3 plants per window box - I'll grow them on the windowsills indoors (no tunnel up yet, no greenhouse and NOT A CHANCE of growing them outdoors here) not enough shelter from that pesky wind. Anyway, that lot should hopefully keep the cellist going in home made pasta sauce and make a fair old dint in the 'grow my own local food' budget. The 1.50 for two pots of windowsill basil is already being cropped and frozen as well. I've had 4 crops from it since early March. Picked and put striaght into a tub in the freezer for sauce making as and when required.
The cellist is also a bit of a cucumber monster - so I'm trying a variety called 'Bush space master' a thing I've never found before (not that I've looked), a bush cucumber - prolific and good for patio/small spaces - as mine will be in a window box, indoors I'm hoping this might work too.

Healthy little sucker isn't he? I've named him Horatio and potted him up, soon to find his way into a window box with a great view of life on an island - a fine name for a cucumber I think, alhtough I think he's a girl. Need to check that one out. I've sown many for selling but am keeping a few for home. The cellist insisted, if we can grow alot of things on window sill, why not cucumbers?!

When not playing the cello and abandoning new shoes in the garden, in the manner of a witch blown up in the wizard of oz, the cellist enjoys a good walk on the beach, reading and eating pasta with home made tomato sauce.

Tomato Latah, I hope you are listening. How many tinned equivilents will you provide to make sauce for her?


  1. I'm amazed that you can grow all those sun-lovers in windows! I'll have to give that a try--I'd pretty much given up on tomatoes, because either the leaf-hoppers get to them and give them diseases, or the weather gets so hot that the pollen dies. Wait--what do I mean "either?" Usually it's both. Thanks for some much-needed inspiration! Enjoy having the cellist home.

  2. another absolutely brilliant post. you have a wonderful familiar way of writing that makes me feel like i'm having a cup of tea in your kitchen and we're discussing the veggies. had a few chuckles reading this. really lovely.

  3. I've not discovered bush tomatoes, this is something I believe I should explore as they sound right up my alley. Enjoyed your post and looking forward to more :) Cheers, Jenni

  4. Hehe, I'm with you on Diva Tomatoes - I can barely remember to put socks on, let alone pinch out & tie in tomato plants! Your little plants look fab & healthy, good luck growing them (make me proud, little guys!).

  5. Your cellist sounds a character :) And I'll definitely give herbs a go indoors this winter although I've not had much success before...a sunny window sill is needed!

  6. Might be tempted to give bush tomatoes a go here then - I'm another one who can't be 'sed with all the faffing. (Who'd have guessed it eh?!)

    R xx

  7. As always such a pleasure to read. Might have to give tomato growing a whirl here

  8. Very funny - I love the shoes left behind by the evaporated child and your frozen red cannonballs - good luck with those toms!

  9. Very funny indeed! Can just imagine being up there and chatting round your daisy splattered table :) :)

    I'm inspired to tomatoes too! And possibly even cucumbers - never even considered them! And I rescued some supermarket basil too, but it's looking a little sorry for itself -not sure how to rescue it! (possibly more water and a little attention...) :) xx

  10. Like mother like daughter, clearly - they needed a bit of a view of home?! Wonderful! I am eyeing up the sky wondering if I can get a trip to the allotment in to sow more seed before the rain starts, at which point I will be on tomato potting up duty. Good to see you are trying some divas amongst the bushy types - I am growing marmande too. You put me to shame with how much you grow in such a small space, I keep forgetting to sow more salad leaves and I have nearly chopped my last from my early sown trough.

  11. thank you all! What lovely comments
    Janet - I am not great with the divas but I'll try not to be tomatoist!

    Jenni, Cheri & Robyn - I can mail you a few to try?
    Nice to think you all you about the table in the kitchen!

    FRG - thank you - evaporating children indeed!!

    Mrs Bok I hope you give it a go!

    LBF - they are doing you proud!

    stacy and Jenni - I hope you try them too and they really are so much easier.

    JTs - thank you - you're compliments are always very lovely. I'm glad you think of it as a wee blether with pals

    Cheers chaps!

  12. Congratulations to The Cellist on her grade 5!

    Ah, Converse loom large in the teenage life. The one thing my daughter's French exchange partner wanted to buy on her latest visit to Edinburgh was a pair of Converse. (after the initial random pairing through the school exchange they've struck up a firm friendship and are zooming back and forth between France and Scotland). Strange souvenir if you ask me! And on a school trip to Berlin last week the party did so much walking that daughter's Converse wore through on the sole. Now that's a measure of serious mileage!

    Have never had a serious go at tomatoes. But now that we have a new west-facing fence in the garden am tempted to secrete a few plants among the flowers.

  13. I have a hankering to grow tomatoes now ;)