Back when the raised beds were first finished in our kitchen garden, I was at once utterly thrilled that they were ready and also a bit panicked that it was too late to really sow any summer vegetables. So it was in a rather lazy frame of mind that I decided on the spur of the moment to rescue seven really miserable looking tomato plants at our local garden centre. They were on sale at a princely £1 each, and I reasoned that as I hadn’t really sowed enough tomato seeds myself, if I just got a handful of toms off of each of them, they’d have paid their way. Goodness me, did they ever repay my rescue! I didn’t cordon them properly, but just propped each up on a hazel stick in a raised bed outside and most of them promptly collapsed into a flattened bush sort of shape but with the notable exception of the black tomatoes which never fully ripened, we’ve had kilos and kilos and kilos of tomatoes.
I’ll admit they weren’t as tasty as the ones I’ve grown in the past, as I suspect these were just some commercial cultivar selected for profligacy rather than taste, but they have certainly contributed enormously to our freezer. When we realised that there was broken glass in the topsoil we bought in to fill our raised beds we also realised that when we removed the soil, the plants would all have to come out. The tomatoes were still groaning with unripened fruits. A quick google search found a tip from Nigel Slater that if we pulled out the whole plant and hung it somewhere warm, the tomatoes would continue to ripen. So that is what I did, much to the amusement of our landscapers. I started to decorate the inside of the polytunnel with tomato vines festooning the top beams. And incredibly it appears to have worked! I honestly wouldn’t have believed it but we’re still getting a decent crop every day. It’s nice to have at least one crop survive the raised bed fiasco and as tomatoes are my favourite, I’m particularly glad it was them. I have to say I’ll be back to sowing my own favourite cultivars from seed again next year though. It’s not only cheaper but I can specify taste, which I’d choose over volume any day.