By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener I like tomatoes. They bring out the Italian in me (which is half my husband, so things get complicated). Tomatoes are very pleasurable to grow. For full cultivation details, read In Praise of The Nightshade Family. My cultivation methods have changed little in nine years. I just have a bigger greenhouse and more growing space generally.
One memorable lunch party started with a vast platter of varicoloured and varishaped home grown tomatoes. Warm from the vine, they were sliced, sprinkled with superior olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, scattered with green and purple basil and served with excellent bread. Nobody can remember what the rest of the meal consisted of! I am aiming for a positively rainbow selection this year, thanks to the Heritage Seed Library at HDRA:
- Purple Calabash: Big, dark red, meaty beefsteak variety
- Black Plum: Small, garnet-red plum shaped fruit
- Dark Purple Beefsteak
- Orange Banana: orange and long with pointy ends
- Snow White Cherry: miniature pale yellow beefsteak-shaped fruits
- Scotland Yellow: medium sized, yellow fruits
- Fabelonelistnyj: (Anybody out there know how to pronounce this?) small yellow fruits
- Golden Dixie: all I know is it’s yellow
- Estonian Yellow Mini Cherry
- Auntie Madge’s: A red one!
- Gardener’s Delight and Tigerella: lovely red ones just in case the others fail
I planted up every one of the seeds in individual plugs, and put them in the greenhouse. Tomatoes need a night temperature of at least 10Â°C to germinate. As I lay tucked up in bed I pondered my poor little tomato seeds, shivering at around 4Â°C. Then I lost my nerve and at 11.30 p.m, padded to the greenhouse in nightie and slippers and brought the seed trays into the house. I’m looking forward to reporting the success/failures of this batch of tomatoes, graduating to a photograph of a very large and colourful tomato salad in the summer!