This season I was determined to improve my tomato growing skills after the somewhat chaotic last season. I bashed 6ft stakes in the ground even before I planted my seedlings. I tended my tomatoes regularly, selecting one strong leader and tying it to the stake as it grew, nipping out the side stems.
While my plant management has vastly improved, I am only now enjoying the fruits of my labour. Not because of late planting or the weather, in fact I’ve had plenty of fruit since January. It’s just that my nemesis, the green vegetable bug, savaged all the early fruit and left me with nothing edible. Gutted.
My loathing for this bug runs deep. He literally sucks the life out of the fruit. He destroyed a good deal of last year’s crop too, and all my capsicums. This year we began regular spraying with pyrethrum as soon as he appeared, but it didn’t stop him.
I resorted to picking off and squishing every single one I saw, every morning and at night as I wandered around the garden. It wasn’t pretty (though surprisingly satisfying), but I think this has been a successful solution. While I still see (and squish) the odd one, there are far fewer. And I’m FINALLY getting to enjoy some lovely, ripe, unravaged tomatoes.
While fresh and raw is hard to beat, I’ve been busy cooking and preserving them too, so we can enjoy them well into winter. Fresh tomato and corn salsa and spicy tomato relish have become new favourites, and I’ve dehydrated some too, for a semi-dried option. Today’s mission included churning up some passata for the freezer, and I roasted tomatoes, capsicum and garlic and blitzed it with some fresh basil for a spectacular tomato sauce.
While the frosts may be on their way and my short season will soon be over, my preserving shelves are beginning to groan and I’m loving this new flush of red. Better late than never.