I guess it is the beautiful summer we have had. Warm with rain and a fair bit of sun. My desire to grow cherry tomatoes surfaced with a passion. I had planted butterhead lettuce seedlings on 2nd May and everything was looking good. I did succession planting so there is always lettuce to eat, though it’s nearly finished now.
I grew all manner of lettuce in the 1990s on a farm in Mullum and there are two varieties I love. The butterhead – of which there are many varieties and the Mini Cos because of its crisp, small leaf on a strong central vein. It has a terrific shelf life. Lettuce in the sub tropics produce about 9 crops per year.
In Mullumbimby, cherry tomato plants are simply gorgeous and prolific – they grow all the year around. Birds get some fruit, some fall to the ground and self seed. The seeds sprout and I end up with a riot of tangled vines all over the fences and ground. However I was never short of tomatoes. Neither was anyone in the ‘hood.
I had been trying for the 6 years I have been here to grow tomatoes of some sort or another. In the ground, in a green house, in the summer house and this year all things conspired at the right time to produce tomatoes! I had bought two Tumbling Tom cherry tomato plants that I potted into hanging baskets. I was a little worried that they would dry out and they have on occasion. They were ready to flower when I potted them so it didn’t take long. Lots of watering though and liquid feed. I have been using Doff Tomato Feed with an NPK of 5:5:10 My brother-in-law uses that and it is certainly good for fruiting. They are starting to fruit now – they took longer than the Sungold.
On the last day in May I also bought an advanced Sungold cherry tomato seedling and transplanted it into a larger pot with some home grown compost from the first bin and some Growmore pelleted fertiliser. The corner of the house that has the back of the conservatory is ideal. The back of the house faces south which is ideal as a sun trap. The brick wall where the tomato plant was housed is perfect for relatively quick growth. The wind mostly isn’t a problem though middle August brought unseasonal winds and the plant had to be really secured against the down pipe and trellises.
I repotted into a large pot so that watering wasn’t a necessity twice a day. Liquid Tomato feed, water and sun and voila, sweet orange coloured cherry tomatoes.
Meanwhile the butterhead lettuce have grown beautifully and been mostly consumed by us and our neighbours. Salads are the go for the moment. Now this is what I call a salad. I constructed this for my brunch today. Yummy.
The butterhead lettuce and the tomatoes are from our garden. The cucumber isn’t and neither is the spring onion – but there’s next year isn’t there? Some sun-dried tomatoes sliced, shredded ham from a ham shank, a slice of prosciutto torn up plus a torn up slice of Maasdam cheese. Dress with pepper and lo salt. My other half made this cruet set and has several others. He is a good wood worker. I used basil flavoured olive oil. I could have used lemon and dill flavoured. Add two heavily buttered oatcakes (because I like them and I love butter). Al fresco dining on the lower deck. Who could ask for more?