Saturday, 14 December 2013

Recovering from a tomato disaster

There is so much that I have learnt about vegetable gardening this calendar year, eg quantity, soil quality, gross feeding, and trimming and staking. Perhaps plants in a veggie patch are like children: know where the boundaries are, and apply a set of rules.
Take my tomatoes, as an example. A glaring example, mind you. I put in three seedlings (from B ... b ... b ...) without adequate knowledge of their growth habit. If you give tomatoes a weekly dose of Dynamic Lifter and water them every other day, they grow like buggary! I did not train them onto the plastic cones well enough (the cones were also inadequate). And when the winds came in September. they were blown again and again into a tangled mess. Now, the weight of a bounteous crop is weighing the mass down, down, down. The fruit is underneath with precious little sun and light, and absolutely no air circulation.
I have started hacking off the mass/mess that is overhanging the raised bed, and have oodles of green tomatoes. No idea if I should expect them to ripen or not. However, I have three more plants ready to take their place as from about mid-end January. And I am trying new methods. Still not sure if the teepee structure will be strong enough. What that means though, is that I will have to keep the vines trimmed AND trained.

17 comments:

Rosemary said...

Look up recipes for fried green tomatoes and green tomato preserves; both are a Southern US thing.

Julie said...

I knew about FGT but only through the movie of the same name 25 years ago. I will google.

Julie said...

mmm ... a bit like fried aubergine./eggplant ... shall tell our cook!

Rosemary said...

Traditionally FGT are dipped in an egg wash followed by cornmeal. I can't ever remember seeing cornmeal in the stores. Look in Wikipedia to see what I refer to as cornmeal. You may be able to find it as polenta.

freefalling said...

Tomatoes will ripen once picked if they are kept at a temperature of over 25 degrees - maybe you could put them near the hot water cistern - but try not to put them in direct sunlight.

I don't think your teepee is going to be strong enough.
Why don't you try one of those metal cones from Bunnings - they are good for potted toms - but not really adequate for ground planted toms.
Here's what worked for me for ground planted toms - get big wooden stakes (maybe 7 stakes) - like 7ft tall - put them in a circle about 5ft across in diameter at the top - they can be closer at the bottom. As they grow tie them to the stakes with budding tape as support.
You end up with fruit on the outside and a hole in the middle of the plant which is good for air circulation.
1 plant takes up a lot of room.

And in your pot - plant the tomato not in the middle of the pot but on the side - otherwise you are gunna end up with a big mess in the middle. Then train those little branches out. See the one you have there - I'd already have lots of budding tape on that. Your teepee is up the wrong way - small at the bottom - big at the top. When I first bought one of those metal cagey cone things I put it in upside - down. My Dad did too. Remember - Small at the bottom - big at the top.

I've got some green zebras and black russians in at the moment in QLD. They are very yum.
Diggers where I used to buy them from now have a limited amount in Bunnings in the Toowoomba store.
These ones:
http://freefallingscominguproses.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/green-zebras.html

freefalling said...

You know where I learn a lot of stuff about vegie gardening?
From Peter Cundall in the country paper - the Weekly Times.
Do you know him - he's the old dude who used to be on Gardening Australia.
He's got great tips and incredible depth of knowledge.
The Weekly Times has just undergone a revamp and it's a bit hard to find him now.
Go to Country living - Gardening - then he's usually down the bottom. I'm still trying to find out how to go back to his old articles - the links aren't working.

Julie said...

Wow wow wow! Golly gosh. Just read all this. Will have to read and go look at what I have done and what you mean. Umm ... taa ...

Julie said...

Letty

By budding tape, do you mean something like the 1cm strips of green velcro that I have used before? But you only use it to attach to the structure, yes. To control the growth pattern

I did my teepee that way up because when i googled, that was by far the most common shape. I have now found some the other way up.

head in the sun said...

Budding tape is like stretchy sticky tape without the sticky - it's clear. I costs about $4-5 a roll. It comes in a little see-through packet. You can get it at Bunnings and most garden stores these days.
It's good coz it can stretch as the plant grows.
Yeah to control the growth pattern and to hold the plant tight to the stakes to give support to the stems when they have fruit on them.

Kirsten Lynn said...

Wow Letty. Mum said you'd left an amazing comment. I must read up about preserving now because I think this little chef is in a little trouble with oversupply of tomatoes!

Rosemary said...

You may prefer a green tomato salsa or chutney.

Julie said...

Kirsten has just shown me two recipes: green tomato curry; and tomato relish. I suggested a salsa, too.

Many thanks to you both. I think we have lift-off. Shall photograph the results!

head in the sun said...

Hi Kirsten - I've tried lots of different recipes for preserving tomatoes.
These ones are my favourites:

This one is great with cheese and bikkies.
http://cookingwithfreefalling.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/tomato-chilli-pickles.html

This one is great with home-made steak sangers.
http://cookingwithfreefalling.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/tomato-chutney.html

And I've got another one somewhere that I love in summer with cold chicken. It's a peach and tomato one. Very yum.

Do you have Sally Wise's book "A Year in a Bottle". Great when you are just learning about preserving stuff - very practical and she's Australian.
She has a website too and you can hear her on ABC radio.
http://www.sallywise.com.au/category/blog/

Or you could always do what Vince's family do - every March they all gather with mountains of tomatoes.
Send them through the mouli to remove seeds and skin. Put the juicy pulpy stuff into beer bottles with a sprig of basil. Wrap the bottles in newspaper - fill a 40 gallon drum with bottles and water and put over a flame and cook away. Then store them under the house for the rest of the year (Vince hated going under to get the bottles when he was a kid coz of the spiders). And that forms the basis of all their pasta sauces.

Kirsten Lynn said...

Letty, you are just a gold mine of information.

I will put that Sally Wise book on my wish list. A relish that does not involve peeling the tomatoes is veeeeeerrry appealing.

I just posted on today's effort using the Women's Weekly Preserves recipe. I don't know how it tastes yet but I have four little jars ready to trial on my taste testers. The recipe is quite similar to the second recipe.

What do you do for bottles and sterilising? From the photos of tomato relish bottles on your blog, it looks like you bought special preserving jars?

head in the sun said...

Here's something I didn't know (but apparently everyone else did!) - chutneys and relishes should sit for about 3 months before you eat them.
It lets the flavours mellow and takes the sharpness out of the vinegar.

Yeah - I bought special preserving jars but it wasn't really necessary.
I don't do that anymore. But if you are interested, they are selling the BALL bottles at Woolworths now.

For sterilizing I wash the bottles and lids in soapy water and rinse, then put them in the oven on around 150 while I make the chutney, jam etc.

Maggie Beer says you can sterilize the lids just by turning the bottles upside down as soon as you bottle chutney - the boiling hot mix apparently sterilizes them. But sometimes if I haven't put the lid on properly I've had big messes.

Julie said...

*chuckle*

Kirsten Lynn said...

I've seen them at woolies actually. I don't plan to buy them if I don't have to; I'd prefer to reuse (even if my mother has been commenting for months that I have accrued an entire cupboard full of old jars!).