During my gap year I have been dabbling with a spot of gardening. This constitutes booking the gardener and discussing the overall plan with him whilst washing up his tea-stained cups. Asking friends to plant geraniums on my birthday in April, which I am still enjoying today. Buying hanging baskets and replacing them when they die off due to my lack of watering commitment. And planting six bags of tomatoes with Sharon and Nicola against all advice.
Here’s what happened.
Nicola was given eight tomato plants for free at Charing Cross railway station. Ben grew three tomato plants from seeds on kitchen loo roll on his kitchen window ledge. Somehow all eleven plants ended up at my house, the responsibility falling to me to grow them this summer.
Nicola’s mother said not to bother, since tomatoes never ripen and you are left with a lot of green ones to turn into chutney and considering most people do not like green tomato chutney or are inundated with the bloody stuff ‘cos everyone’s toms have failed to ripen, its just not worth the effort.
I said “Sod that for a game of soldiers. I’m just going to plant them and see what happens”.
So I ordered some planting bags from Amazon and twice as many as I thought I had ordered turned up. Which meant we had to go to Homebase to get some compost. Nicola said “you’ll need some Tomorite”. Ben said “they need daily watering”; I had more advice than I needed, frankly.
At the garden centre we bumped into Karen and her husband and her delightful daughters and they asked what we were doing. I said we were planting tomatoes and they said they weren’t bothering this year as the bloody things never turn green. Yada, yada, yada. You are getting the idea, arent you, and the negativity surrounding my tomato project?
I ploughed on regardless, for such is my operating system. I reiterated “we are just going to put them in the soil and see what happens” which we duly did on one of those early summer bank holidays which are plentiful.
I watered them a bit, the spirit’s willing. The Tomorite is still in the shed, unused. I mostly ignored them I must confess. My gardener – during a visit in August – did what you are supposed to do, tied them up onto the fence and stripped all the leaves off. This revealed a HUGE crop, some of which were even turning red. Blimey! This was only going to work…
I’ll cut the story short, Gentle Reader, as I am sure you know where I’m going with this. Today I picked a massive bowlful, 23 big ones, the Charing Cross variety, and 69 small ones, Wimbledon Windowsill. This isn’t my first batch. Ben and Sharon and I ate a goodly quantity of them in early September, Ben even took some home and I can already see this will not be my last picking.
So, to what do I attribute my surprise red tomato success against all the odds? No idea to be completely honest with you. They appear to like the sunny fence we sited them on. They seem to like being largely, yet optimistically, ignored. Perhaps they enjoy the ley lines in Streatham Hill to which Bianca attributes all my successes. Who knows? But my crop is bounteous and I’m off to make some tomato sauce with them now which my sister-in-law, Anne, who is a PROPER gardener, says is the thing to do when you have a surfeit.
I have a surfeit of red tomatoes, a bounteous red tomato crop. I am just a little big smug. I have thoroughly enjoyed being spiritual Mum to my tomato babies and, above all, I have LOVED proving the naysayers wrong. It was ever thus.