Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Too Many Toms!

I've never had much luck with tomatoes. In three years of trying, I have managed to grow and ripen just one tomato. (I don't mean just one variety; I don't mean just one plant; I mean one single tomato.) Yet somehow, I've collected 11 varieties of seed!
I've got currant, cherry, pear, plum and beefsteak ones! I've got red, yellow, green and stripey ones!
And I've only got 8ft square to plant them in!
I'd rather try them all than be left wondering if the one I missed was the one that would have succeeded, so I reckon I'll plant three each of the ten indeterminate varities in three rows; spaced a bit closer than they should be but held up using the 'Florida Weave' method that should encourage growth upward rather than outward, and improve air circulation and sun exposure... Time will tell...
The one determinate variety will be grown in pots (I'll decide where later...) along with some 'Hundreds and Thousands' tumbling toms I couldn't resist from Suttons (their photo). Two thousand tomatoes from a single ready-started plant? Surely I can't fail!

SO, last night I sowed my tomato seeds in toilet rolls (we've been collecting for months!) which can be planted whole to avoid root disturbance. Three of each variety, plus a few spares of the popular ones.

5 x Moneymaker (medium size)
5 x Gardener's Delight (cherry size)
4 x Alicante (medium size; an Italian favourite, apparently)
4 x San Marzano 2 (plum tom, good for cooking or preserving)
3 x Red Pear (small pear-shape)
3 x Red Cherry (cherry size, duh!)
3 x Tigerella (medium size, red and yellow striped skin)
3 x Golden Sunrise (medium size, yellow)
3 x Green Zebra (medium size, green striped skin)
2 x Costoluto Fiorentino (beefsteak, only 2 because I seriously doubt they'll have time to ripen outdoors)
3 x Sub Arctic Plenty (determinate variety, small/medium fruits, does well in cold weather and can reach harvest in as little as 45 days!)

Actually, I got so excited about the Sub Arctic Plenty that I sowed some a couple of weeks back too, to flirt with the late frosts and try for an extra-extra-early harvest. There they are in the corner of the picture, getting a liiiittle leggy indoors but growing away nicely...

I've got a few days off starting tomorrow and I was planning to spend them on the plot, but the weather is disastrous at the moment. I'll play it by ear - maybe I can still get something done down there. If not, there are still sowings to make at home, and the garden to work on (bushes to plant). So far, I've been making the most of time stuck indoors with lots of planning.

Here is the plan for this year:

OK, it turned out a lot smaller on the screen than it did in my head, so let me explain and please click to enlarge the picture! The compost/storage area is over on the right (north), with the asparagus bed at the top. The rest of the plot is roughly divided into 8ft squares, like last year. (Actually, this year the squares are 8'6" by 7'6" to allow for more sensible paths.) The pond area should be obvious, with tree positions marked too, and that light green colour indicates a thickly planted bed of herbs and beneficial flowering plants, which extends down the centre of the plot, between the beds, and in a narrow border round the edges too. The yellow strips are paths which I hope to plant with yarrow (which I read somewhere would smother weeds, put some pests off, make some ladybirds happy and be hardy enough to walk on - sounds like a miracle plant to me but here's hoping!)
The five beds in the top row (west) will contain (in order) melons, potatoes, sweetcorn and pumpkins, summer brassicas, and beans and peas. The six beds in the bottom row (east) will contain tomatoes (plus peppers and aubergines if I'm lucky), salads and spinach, carrots and onions, courgettes and cucumbers, strawberries (already in situ), and winter brassicas.

For the record, here is a plan of my crop rotation too:

I've recently discovered Google Docs, which allows you to store Word and Excel documents (and others) online, so I will be making some of my growing information available on the right hand side of this page for anyone that's interested. (Terribly vain, this blogging lark!) I'll include this plan, a record of my crop rotation, a record of important (to me!) gardening dates to compare year-by-year, a catalogue of my seed collection, and sowing records. And even if no-one's interested, at least I'll know where to find them from now on!


marigold said...

Great, I never thought of using google documents for showing documents on the blog. I mostly use it to convert word documents into .pdfs. I was wondering if I could use photobucket or something similar to show the garden plan I made in Word but that's only for images. SO, Thanks!

Paul and Melanie said...

Wow, thats a lot of toms! I was thinking of trying a load of different types this year as I wanted all different sizes and colours, so I may use your list as a guide and get sowing now. :)

Nome said...

It's certainly gonna be a great variety! But having done a bit more research I've decided I don't have room for that many plants - maybe just two of each. I believe in spacing things closer than most people but not that much closer!

Pepette said...

Loving the plan! And thanks for the tip about Google Docs, never heard of it before so will definetely give it a try to store all my various allotment related Excel files.

Amy said...

Wow, love you plan! The raised beds look very nice too, I have 4 raised beds in the garden and they were certainly easy last year, just chucked the seeds in and watched them grow. Good luck with the tomatoes.

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