Sunday 4 December 2011

Tomato madness approaches (hopefully)

I hope I'm not putting the mockers on my forthcoming tomato crop by publishing this, but.....

For the first time ever, it looks like I've successfully grown a tomato crop. Living in Wogville, and obviously being surrounded by wogs, my manhood has been challenged by my inability to produce baskets full of enormous, red tomatoes. Every year around this time, the local rag has a weekly story on Mr Wogalopolis, 72, who has grown a 3 tonne tomato in an olive oil bottle. Try as I might, the best result was last year, when I managed to produce a single handful of fairly useless tomatoes.

Every year, it's been like the plagues of Egypt. Mould, fungus, root rot, leaf wilt, trace element deficiencies, swarms of bugs etc etc. I have a shed full of stuff designed to kill all of the above...and it all failed miserably.

This year, I did a few things differently. So far, judging by the early results, I have done something right.

For starters, I let the plot lay fallow over winter. No bean crops etc for us this year. Instead, I dumped mounds of lawn clippings and chicken poo onto the plot, let it fester for a while and then dug it in with a pitchfork. We have a good lawn to garden ratio, which means every time I mow the lawn, the plot gets a six inch layer of new clippings.

Then I mowed the lawns a few weeks later and did the same. After a few diggings, the soil has gone from almost pure clay to a much lighter mix of organic stuff and fertilizer. Whenever I dig it over now, I uproot bundles of worms. That's a good sign.

Speaking of worms, I got  worm farm going for our food scraps. We produce enough to keep a small army of worms very well fed, and the worms obligingly produce litres of worm crap every week. I've been dumping that onto the garden as well (and the tomato plants once they went into the ground). Before I planted, I went a bit mad with the chook poo pellets as well.

I also put in a much better staking and support system for the plants.

The result has been an insane tomato jungle. Last year, which was a good year, the plants got to about 2 feet high, then went yellow, wilted and died. This year, the only way I will find half the crop is to attack the dark green jungle with a machete. I didn't bother doing any pruning or pinching out early on because based on past experience, the plants would need all the leaves they could get (since most of them tended to die). My entirely hands-off approach has resulted in something half the Japanese Army could hide in.

The weather has been cool of late - too cool for the tomatoes to start developing the chemicals that turn them red. But we got a few warm days last week, and the first red buggers have appeared. I might even pick a few today.

I can't remember what variety I planted where, and what varieties I put in. Going on past experience, I thought they'd all die by now, so I didn't pay much attention to what was going where. I think I've got cherry tomatoes, Roma and two other varieties of heirloom Italian stuff. I guess we'll know more in a week or so.

And by Christmas, we'll be sick of tomato salad.


kae said...

Great read, as usual.
I will post pictures of my sad tomatoes later. I did pick a few yesterday to give away (I don't much like tomatoes, but I like to grow things).

bh said...

Hey BOAB, pics of your crop, please ...

Boy on a bike said...

I tried photographing it during the week, but the photos don't do it justice. It's just a great big blob of leaves.

I'll photograph the tomatoes once they start coming good.