Saturday 28 March 2015

Talking about tomatoes, part 2 - March 2015

Tomato season is coming to an end, so I want to quickly jot down some notes here to refer back to next season. We had a great summer but the tomatoes took a while to really get going, especially the outside ones, so next year I will need to think twice about whether it's even worth planting them outside - perhaps just the tried and true varieties. (Oh who am I kidding, I always have too many seedlings and I'm not going to just throw them out, am I?) Anyway... when you are picking that sweet, savoury, juicy, delicious fruit and putting it straight into your meal (or your mouth), you forget all the challenges and it all becomes worth it.

Tomato notes - glasshouse

  • The caterpillars were slow arriving but they did come at last. Not as bad as previous years.
  • Tomatoes succumbed to blight at the end of the season as usual, but fruit not affected.
  • I usually like to make my own fertiliser from comfrey but I just couldn't be bothered this year. I also had a bag of Tui Novatec to try, which did a good job.
Tomato notes - outside

  • Tomatoes outside were much slower to flower and ripen. The plus side is that they are continuing after the glasshouse ones have finished.
  • The best performers are Juliet and Kumato... the rest really aren't worth the trouble.
  • For fertiliser I used Novatec, sheep pellets, compost and neem granules (for pest repellant).

Tomato varieties

  • Juliet - always reliable. First to ripen, prolific. Firm skin and fruit, not really the best texture but they store really well, and fallen fruit don't tend to rot and will continue to ripen.
  • Brandywine - same growth habits as other beefsteaks. Nice flavour, but didn't beat my favourite Black Krim!
  • Brown Berry - Prolific cherry tomato with nice flavour.
  • Black Cherry - slightly more pink/maroon than Brown Berry, otherwise very similar.
  • Black Krim - didn't set a huge amount of fruit this year but I think that's normal for beefsteaks? As the fruits they do set are so big. My favourite sandwich tomato!
  • Yellow Pear - the slowest to get going, but good once it did. Doesn't set quite as much fruit as the other cherry tomatoes.
  • Green Grape - I remember this one being fussy when I first started growing it, but I've been saving my own seeds for several years so I must have kept the good ones! They have chartreuse skin and green flesh with a lovely sweet taste. 
  • Kumato - this was the wild card this year and it's proved itself. It did ok outside and would have been even better in the glasshouse. Medium size, brownish maroon fruits with firm skin. They had a nice smoky flavour and were good in sandwiches, also the firm skin meant it was easy to remove when blanched, so they are good for making sauce/relish. I've saved seed and am looking forward to trying it again next year.
I've been gorging myself on fresh tomatoes, in sandwiches and salads, on toast and mixed into almost any dish I've cooked! I made a batch of relish and several batches of semi dried cherry tomatoes in the dehydrator. I dry them for about 8 hours so there is still some moisture in them, then pack them into bags and freeze them. They are a treat in winter.

Sunday 15 March 2015

March flowers

Hi and welcome to March in my garden! Summer might be winding down but the garden is as flower filled as ever, and the lowering light makes blooms and petals even more beautiful. There are seed heads and berries forming and it's fun to look each day and spot new changes.

Clockwise from top left: an unknown climbing rose grown from a cutting, autumnal tints on a hydrangea, viburnum berries (these plants have always been in one of my side gardens but I never noticed berries on them before. They are so vibrant - wow!), white rose grown from a cutting, a patchwork looking cosmos, pink penstemon, lupin and lavatera, water drops sparkling on a hydrangea, burgundy scabiosa, autumn cyclamen, apple blossom geranium, scabiosa seed head. Middle: lupins and gaura backlit by the evening sun.

What is blooming in your garden this month? Is it spring or autumn? I'm linking this post to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Styling the Seasons - March 2015

Hello, and welcome back to Styling the Seasons for March! This is a monthly styling challenge hosted by Katy at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lotts and Lots.

This month I've created a relaxing little corner on my deck. In New Zealand, March is late summer/early autumn. The weather is usually hot but you have that creeping feeling that the gorgeous weather won't last all that much longer, and so some advantage needs to be taken. (Also, the angle of the sun has shifted a little bit, and this corner is now a bit shadier... that's appreciated on a summer's afternoon!)

I made myself a refreshing basil and raspberry mojito drink. You can find the recipe here, just leave out the booze if you're drinking at home alone on your deck at lunch time... or leave it in, I won't tell! Just don't forget the mint.

My calibrachoas are doing really well - they are perfect deck plants! They have flowered nonstop since about October. I have three and I'm going to make a real effort to look after them over winter so they will hopefully bounce back again next year.

It might be summer but I still want a soft blanket for padding, or pulling over my bare feet if a breeze comes up. My Summertime Patchwork Quilt blanket is perfect, nice and lightweight but warm. This is exactly what I imagined using it for when I made it. I also have pillows for snuggling and a hat to pull over my eyes while I take a nap!

Well, the wind came up, the garland fell down and my set was photobombed by the cat. Hey, that's late summer for you... I still sat back in my chair and drank my mojito! Here's to a few more weeks of happy sunny days before the dreaded daylight savings kicks in. Cheers!


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