In the greenhouse, the tomatoes have long since reached the sloping glass roof and most have been trimmed back, to ensure that their energy goes into setting and ripening fruit on the many trusses all the way up their stems rather than in trying to break out of the glass.
Many of the plants lurch across the space somewhat, due to our slightly late attendance on tying them up, and again this year the lower leaves have begun to show signs of magnesium deficency, so I have been feeding the foliage with diluted epsom salts to address this. It certainly seems to have arrested the spread of mottling up the plants’ leaves.
One plant, however, stopped growing early after attaining only a couple of feet of height, its foliage quickly yellowing and looking pale and limp beside the deep lush green of its neighbours. This is the marmande, that I was given at the village seed swap in the spring.
Despite its diminutive height, it has however set and ripened half a dozen of the most amazing large pleated fruits, wonderful eaten still warm from the sun. I was surprised that these were among the first ripe fruits of the season.
A little reading around suggests that this tomato is best grown outdoors, and perhaps the early hot conditions under glass are responsible for hampering its growth. With the recent cool wet weather, I’m not sure that we would have enjoyed any harvest from it outside this year, certainly not yet; but perhaps it is worth trying it outdoors next year. I suspect that the current plant will not live much longer though, the last two or three fruits are turning orange and there has been little or no new growth from the rather sickly-looking plant.
Sad that its productivity will be so short – but the fruit it has provided have been full of flavour, easily matching, if not exceeding, our favourite familiar greenhouse tomatoes, Shirley and Sakura. From their lofty terrain these have been giving us a more measured harvest for the past few weeks, and should continue to do so for many more to come, fingers crossed.