When I first started growing tomatoes, I had a great deal of success. Everything seemed surprisingly easy, but then I thought I could improve things. I listened to experts and tried all the recommended ways. Having a tomato nursery just five minutes’ away, I learned how they grew their tomatoes.
They are grown hydroponically, in heated greenhouses and they are very tall vines. Leaves are stripped off and they are supported by ropes hanging down. There’s no problem with pollination, box hives of bees are brought into the greenhouses and they do all the work.
I tried to follow all the ways I had learned about growing tomatoes but instead of getting better, it got worse. This year has been the most notable of all. I knew our cooler climate contributed to the sweeter flavour of the tomatoes and made the difference between the flavourless, shop-bought and home-grown varieties.
Mould developed and many of the joints where I had removed the leaves, also showed signs of infection. I removed the shading in the greenhouse, thinking not enough sun was getting in. Everything I thought I was doing to improve growth, was actually killing it.
Tomatoes can suffer from sun scorch, so the shading will go up again next year. Enough shade comes from their own leaves. Mould forms on damaged plants, so stripping the leaves is not beneficial, in fact it’s quite harmful. I think the only thing I may have got right, is leaving the door as well as the windows open, so that my little feral pollinators can come and go as they please. I often have flowers in the greenhouse as an added attraction for them.
You can learn a lot from listening to other growers but sometimes they can get it wrong as well. Next year, not only will I let the plants keep their livery, and reduce the number of plants I grow, I have enough favourites. Although I may just keep a space free, just in case.