Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tomayto, Tomahto

However you pronounce tomato, there is something simply delightful about the flavourful, juicy, colourful and totally versatile fruits of the tomato plant. But to grow them yourself in your very own garden opens up another world of tasty possibilities. For the first time this past summer my little man and I have grown our very own tomatoes in an array of shapes, colours and sizes from the rich soils of my newly up-and-running vegetable garden; with rather some success I must say too. In the middle of spring, being some of the very first plants to go into my fresh new garden beds, we enthusiastically planted about eighteen tomato seedlings. Having sourced some from my local organic grocer and the rest from a green-fingered old chap at a church fair, all up I paid roughly about $15 for what I had no idea would produce more than 15 kilos of fruit.. and counting. But at the time, it was in the ground they went.

 And we curiously watched them grow...

Watered them regularly, feed them occasionally with liquid manure fertiliser and watched them slowly get bigger...

Until eventually we had a tomato hedge, as of course being a first-time gardener I planted them a little bit too close together. But, we then watched as an abundance of fruit grew, and out from each of the tiny little yellow flowers came a tiny little tomato.

and then finally they began to change colour and we were picking between 400 & 500 grams of tomatoes everyday. Yet even eating them everyday, the pile began to grow and I had to get creative.

I've eaten them freshly sliced on top of my toasted sourdough, I've made salads and pasta sauces, I've roasted them and I've pan-fried them..

they've been tossed together with leftover pasta, avocado & herbs and gone to school with my little man for an exciting school lunch,

they've come with silly faces and proved rather entertaining at times,

and alongside some red capsicums and a few fiery green chillis straight from the garden they've made a number of batches of fantastic relish as well..

It's been helpful having well draining and fertile soil, lots of sun, and two avid enthusiasts gently keeping watch... but with some good compost, a bag of manure if its handy and a little bit of effort, a small spot in your back garden or a couple of pots at the back door, even just four or five lively green plants should provide you with a decent crop. Its totally economical and so definitely worth the effort; and you also save on all the packaging that comes with commercially grown tomatoes. I unknowingly started with a fairly big patch this year and I reaped the rewards for it.. but next year I'm totally going bigger... 

So in a few days time as the daily pickings begin to slow, I'll take a few of each variety and squeeze the contents out into jars and soak them in water for two or three days. Once the little bit of flesh has separated from the seeds I can drain them, dry them, and pop them into envelopes for next year. So come the first week of the next spring I'll stick them straight into fresh seed raising mix for germination, and we can start the whole process all over again. I cant wait! But first I've got Autumn and Winter vegetables to grow, so there's much work ahead to be done, fun to be had, and joy to be found in our garden.


1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on such success in your vege patch this summer. I'm envious because our tomatoes have amounted to nothing. Too much rain and too little sunshine. Oh well, there's always next year.