Of course weather doesn’t go anywhere but it never stays the same, sometimes a gardener’s friend and sometimes an enemy. The problem comes as we are on a small island and very few parts of it are consistent with the national weather forecasts. It’s quite disheartening when within a few miles, one area is in drought and the other flooding. In the south-west of Scotland, we get a lot of rain, however, we do have a lot of hills and fortunately can harness water in lochs and reservoirs so extreme drought is unusual for us.
We believe our weather is contributory to growing the finest soft berry fruits and tomatoes in the country. It’s said that the tomatoes are the sweetest because of the cooler weather and I have to agree. I have never tasted tomatoes or raspberries with so much flavour as we have here. Those from any other area seem tasteless in comparison and that is one reason why my chosen No.1 crop is tomatoes. The different varieties of course have different flavours and my choices are Shirley, a medium-size tomato, ideal for slicing but then you try the cherry tomatoes, Gardener’s Delight is one of the larger cherries and delicious in salads. Streaking ahead last year was Rosella, the taste was superb, quite different from the others and followed closely by Sweet Aperitif.
My new introductions for this year are mainly ones I’ve grown before at some point, Sungold and Tigerella. Tigerella was my reason for venturing into a more flavoursome tomato, until someone gave me a ‘Tigerella’, I didn’t realise how much difference in taste the tomatoes had and it was so good, I ventured into my first saving tomato seeds. It took to the following year to discover my ‘Tigerella’ was actually Gardener’s Delight, the original label had been lost so although it has taken some time, I am finally getting around to growing the real Tigerella. Craigella is another new tomato for this year, quite a large tomato.
I prefer cherry tomatoes though, it is so nice just picking the fruit off the vine, they never taste quite the same on a plate and never would I cook the tomatoes I grow, they are all too good not to be eaten fresh.
Soft fruits were always delicious, however, in order to protect them from the heavy rains, many growers are turning to polytunnels. They keep fruit growing longer but perhaps they lose part of their flavour. I still think the sweetest fruits are the ones grown outside.
My many experiments with growing more exotic vegetables have been interesting and most are happy growing in the greenhouse, but the lack of heat and sun means they are growing in hostile conditions so don’t have such good end results. However, I can’t resist the weird and I’m not entirely sure of what the outcome will be with Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato. Described by the seed suppliers as “the colour and flavour is a full-blown assault on the senses”. Going through a variety of colours and turning olive green when ripe. They also describe it as being “extraordinarily sweet”. The plants are quite small yet, but in flower, as the seeds were sown much later than the rest but with a 75-day ripening, I am still hopeful.