Sunday, 5 June 2011

Cordon tomatoes - an experiment

I've always muddled along with tomatoes, never really focusing enough on pinching out and stopping, and ending up in August with an inadequate support for laden plants. This year I'll do better by my plants!
I saw a programme on heritage varieties growing in the Victorian glasshouses at Audley End where the kitchen garden is managed by Garden Organic. Inspired by seeing cordon tomatoes growing up strings, I've decided to try something similar at the allotment.
To make: timber offered by an allotment neighbour and a lady whose dustbins in Putney I was passing, an extra spike sleeve from the hardware shop in the high street for one of the uprights,  baler twine I've had for years, some odd nails and screws. Online I came across a video by an American woman who used a 'spousal unit' in construction. I substituted an etiolated nineteen year old for knocking in of posts and this worked fine.
I think there may be a reason why you don't see this method for out of doors. Maybe wind jars the stems.  Anyway, looking forward to lovely tall plants, allowed to grow as indeterminatley long as a London summer allows.

frame and bind-a-twine
string wound around plant

bow knot that can be adjusted

pegged to ground (pinch out side shoots!)

I have 8 varieties:
Tigrella - Mr Stripey in the US, apparently
Ryder's Midday Sun - Garden Organic Heritage Variety, seeds shared by Master Gardener Claire Benson - blog Claire's Crops
F1 Tomatoberry - heart shaped and really rather expensive seeds
Costoluto Fiorentino - bulging beefy type
Golden Sunrise - seedlings shared with the latest cohort of South London Master Gardeners at their training in April to practise pricking out
Roma - a bush, ie determinate, plum variety
Sweet Olive - a 'grape' tomato, also determinate
Gardener's Delight - classic 'ultimate cherry tomato'
Elsewhere in pots I'm growing Minibel and Tumbling Tom Red.

I have some spare plants if you're local and quick off the mark.  I will have lots of toms to give away too (fingers crossed!)

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