Sowing tomato seed

Posted: Friday 7 February 2014
by Kate Bradbury

After the miserable summer of 2012, I didn’t grow any tomatoes in 2013. Then the sunshine came.


I learned a lesson last year. After the miserable summer of 2012, I didn’t grow any tomatoes in 2013. Still wearing my winter coat in May and early June, I felt smug and confident with my decision, and amused myself thinking of everyone else’s weedy seedlings.

Then the sunshine came. Suddenly everyone was talking about their tomatoes, which were bigger and juicer than ever before, thanks to the best summer in six years. I was miserable.

So today, with rain lashing my windows and my garden partially submerged, I sowed some seeds of summer. Nothing too bold - just a third of a packet of ‘Sungold’ into a couple of old yoghurt pots, because the weather was too horrible to retrieve the seed trays from the shed.

I think tomatoes are my favourite crop to grow. And I've always grown them – anywhere from a garden-less flat in Manchester to an allotment and even on the windowsills of an office I once worked in.

I love the process of growing tomatoes as much as the end result – I love the smell of the leaves, which takes me back to walking into the greenhouse as a child, when the tomato plants were taller than I was. I love pinching out and tying in. I love watching bumblebees pollinate the flowers, snipping off large trusses and making soups, sauces, lasagnes and galettes. I even loved making green tomato relish in 2012, the year the sun didn’t come.

My best-ever crop of tomatoes was in 2009. I was living in a basement flat, the front yard of which was south facing, with whitewashed walls. We had quite a good summer, and my eight ‘Gardeners’ Delight’ plants wouldn’t stop cropping. I had just bought a flat and had no money for food, but would pick tomatoes every night and make a simple sauce to eat with cheap pasta. Tomatoes probably saved me from getting scurvy that year.

My yoghurt pots of promise are now sitting in front of the window looking out to the garden, as if they, too, are hoping that the sun will one day return. It would be tempting fate to ask for another fantastic summer, but at least I’ll have tomatoes – even green ones are better than nothing.

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happymarion 15/02/2014 at 15:44

I have three gems of tomatoes to sow as a participant in Mr. fothergills Trials in the nation of Gardeners project, called "Black Opal". "Pink Charmer F1", and Orange Slice"F1. As well as those I will be growing my usual "Gardeners delight", "Sunrise " and "Sungold" the first and last of which I eat like sweets. After new potatoes and the onion family and runner and dwarf beans, tomatoes are a priority in my cuisine. I am still using last year's crop via pasta sauce I froze. Good luck with the weather this year, Kate.

Zoomer44 15/02/2014 at 19:16

I've still got some deeeelish tomato chutney left from last year.

I've quite a few different tomato varieties this year, some are unsown seeds from previous years with new one's added. I just don't have enough room in the GH to house them all though so it will be one plant each of the best sown from seed. New one's are Ildi and Prune noire, the latter were seeds purchased in France. Tigerlla, Cerise, Golden Sunrise for the GH, the list could go on...and Tumbling Tom for hanging baskets.   

Good luck with your trials Marion. 

NIKIN 01/03/2014 at 16:29

The tomatoes grown last year were so delicious I bought a small greenhouse for this years. Why are they always too small when you start planting the seeds ?

philippa smith2 01/03/2014 at 16:56

Nikin...........greenhouses are ALWAYS too small............I've had 6 x 8 right up to 50 x 20 and there is never enough room

BobTheGardener 01/03/2014 at 17:08

Yeah, they're like the reverse of Dr. Who's Tardis - they look bigger on the outside than they are when you get inside!

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