101 TTDBNT: Number 5 - Grow Tomatoes
Here's the beauty of #101TTDBNT Number 5... you really don't need to actually do this one until a Thursday in 2017.
Since it's a bit late in the gardener's tomato planting calendar now this is intended as a bit of inspiration for what to do when next season comes round.
We have no greenhouse except for a four shelf plastic 'sentry-box' affair and have grown our crops from seed or with bought plants for almost ten years now. No allotment - just an eight by ten metre back garden which has about a third devoted to raised beds and borders for cultivation. We put in a few flowers for the first time this year... just for some extra colour after four decades of marriage!
Our 2016 tomatoes were all grown along a west facing fence - ten plants in ten rough clay drainage cylinders which were at the bottom of the garden when we moved in forty years ago. They make things easier for dedicated watering and feeding and the roots have plenty of chance to establish before they reach the earth below. I'll have to exert a little more control next year. Growth was so rampant that it was difficult to keep up with the pinching out and nipping off to keep things from going 'Triffid'. Sweet peas, fennel, French beans and runner beans completed the jungle on view here.
Here are the varieties we grew this year. That one 'Big Boy' is the first to ripen on the vine. Experience suggests we might have to pick subsequent fruits for ripening indoors before attack from all sorts of things, including baby snails and slugs which rasp out little holes.
Tomato sauces have already been made and green tomato chutney beckons, made following my favourite recipe.
With such lovely ingredients inspiration is never far away but after a visit to Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons my most pressing task is to reveal the essence of tomato and use it for what must be one of the more simple but most exquisite dishes I have enjoyed for some time. If you or I make Summer Vegetable Risotto to just half the standard which was served to me last week we will be transported to a version of heaven which is not described in any religious writings. Those online recipes give you enough information to work through but Monsieur Blanc's 'Kitchen Secrets' offers deeper understanding of the methods and the way to achieve perfection. I already have the book and that risotto recipe is on page 183... Woo Hoo!
None of the recipe books or online offerings show the refined presentation which came from Le Manoir's kitchen but the flavours alone are the essential and wonderful starting point for this one.
First things first, though. Mrs Cheoff has already made her rather stupendous tomato soup from a batch of our plum tomatoes. A hint of smoked bacon and a lot of basil. It's not the only reason I love her for all eternity... but it does add another layer to the cement which binds us together - tomato yumtious!
Of course you might find splendid people who can supply you with fine tomatoes but please consider finding space for at least a couple of plants of your own. If things go well and you discover even mildly green fingers the delights of the tomato are yours for the picking.
All because you did something before that Thursday in 2017.