We were extremely happy to be selected as a TomTato® trialler for Thompson & Morgan. To grow an innovative and inspiring plant is such a great opportunity and I am here to share the journey with you. When our TomTato® arrived safe and sound I was incredibly excited to begin the growing process. The plant was packaged extremely well for transit and did not suffer from the journey at all. By the following morning he had straightened up and was reaching out for the sunshine.
There was a squash in the cardboard outer at the top from rough handling in transit, but this had no ill effect at all and the container inside was fine. We were quite surprised to see how big the plant was, we were expecting something tiny! A good drink and he immediately flourished, bright green and desperate to grow!
We have planted him in a large tub in an outdoor plastic tent style greenhouse. He looks really healthy and has shot up, and about a week ago we were rewarded with the first flower sprigs appearing. They are now revealing yellow and will be fully fledged flowers very soon. The whole family are following his progress very closely, particularly as my daughter is now starting a growing project at school and having to keep a diary for a sunflower – well homework has got a lot more exciting lately! We will be introducing the class to TomTato® in the coming week or so.
The plant has a great following, particularly at work where I am asked several times a day for progress reports. I have also spoken about him on our international company staff website, where we are holding a gardening forum as part of stress management and relaxing with nature project. Everyone is enthusiastic and amazed, and there is a great interest to see the end results as well as the growing process.
I am keeping a detailed record of everything as we go along, and we are truly thrilled with this amazing plant and thank you for this opportunity to grow with you. No problems at all so far, he is a fantastic high quality plant, really healthy and eager to grow and we are very excited to see his progress!
Tonight on BBC Two, we watch the remaining 7 pairs of allotmenteers make their own chutney. Cooking is the perfect way to make use of any left over produce in your garden or allotment. Belinda Estell brings us her sweet hot chilli and tomato chutney recipe, a fabulous recipe to use up a glut of tomatoes!
- 4lb red, green or a mix of tomatoes
- 2 large onions
- 1 large green salad pepper
- 12 apache chillis (use less if you don’t like too much spice!)
- 1 large cooking apple
- 1 heaped desert spoon of dried oregano
- 1 level teaspoon of saffron
- 1 heaped teaspoon of paprika
- Olive oil
- 400ml red wine vinegar
- 600g sugar
- A good slug of worcester sauce
- Cut the tomatos in half, place in a roasting tray with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 15 minutes.
- Take out, allow to cool and remove skins (easy!).
- Finely chop onions, chillis (without seeds) and pepper, fry in a little olive oil until soft.
- Pour in the roasted tomatos and add oregano, saffron, paprika, salt, pepper and worcester sauce. Bring to a simmer.
- Peel, core and finely chop apple and add to pan.
- Add red wine vinegar and bring back to simmer.
- Slowly add sugar, continually stirring. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and simmer vigorously, occasionally stirring, for 15 minutes.
- Spoon into warmed jars and seal.
Send us your recipes and help a fellow gardener make use of their spare produce
World exclusive TomTato®
Harvest potatoes AND tomatoes from the same plant
Thompson & Morgan announces another major horticultural breakthrough. Specially hand-grafted plants producing potatoes AND tomatoes are now available to UK home gardeners for the first time.
More than 500 sweet and juicy tomatoes on one plant!
Above the ground – gardeners can pick more than 500 cherry tomatoes with a Brix level of 10.2 – that’s sweeter than supermarket varieties. The fruits also have just the right level of acidity that only the very tastiest tomatoes can boast. They really are delicious.
And that’s not all!
Below the ground – gardeners will find a nice big crop of delicious white potatoes which are incredibly versatile. They can be boiled, mashed, roasted or made into chips.
It sounds incredible, but it’s true. Home gardeners really can grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant. This concept has been worked on for over 15 years, but this is the first time that plants have been successfully produced commercially. Tomatoes are members of the potato family (Solanaceae) and are therefore naturally compatible with potatoes. Each plant is hand-grafted to create this unique double-cropping feature. There’s no genetic modification – it’s an all-natural and completely safe process.
Above ground – tomatoes, below ground – potatoes
As is the case with all of Thompson & Morgan’s plants, TomTato® is dispatched with full growing instructions. However these are hardly necessary as the plants are so easy to grow. TomTato® can be grown inside or outside, in a large patio pot or 40 litre bag, on the allotment or in the vegetable patch. Thompson & Morgan is expecting huge interest in its innovative new ‘veg plot in a pot’ , so place your order early to be sure to get your hands on these unique plants.
Paul Hansord, T&M’s horticultural director, is understandably excited about bringing TomTato® to UK gardeners: ‘When I first saw this plant, I was amazed! Potatoes and tomatoes on the same plant? You really have to grow TomTato® to believe it’.
Please note that TomTato® plants are only available to UK customers and will be sent out in time for planting in spring 2014.
Find out more about growing TomTato® by watching this tutorial video:
TomTato® – best grown in a 40 litre pot
TomTato® – tomatoes and potatoes on the same plant!
Michael Perry with a TomTato® plant
With excitement and well drawn plans of the new year, I began 2012 with aspirations of extending my vegetable growing knowledge and growing some good crops at home in my small garden. Still a beginner and only in my second year of anything garden related… ever, I wanted to have another go at growing tomatoes, introduce some beans and grow some potatoes in bags.
My first year of growing tomatoes ended poorly with virtually all my fruits inedible and plants catching blight. However, I love tomatoes and they are very popular to grow at home; my parents always used to grow them in grow bags, so I wasn’t put off, yet!
My 3 x 1 metre raised bed which I built in my first year was tidied up in early April and ready to take my small plants which I had potted on from the young plugs I bought in March. I chose to try the variety Tomato Ferline for that extra blight resistance, plus you get a bit more substance from your crop as it’s not a cherry variety! If my limited experience in gardening was going to result in a minimal yield, I wanted it to last a few more seconds on the plate! What was picked from last year’s experiment never even made it to the kitchen.
So the weeks passed by, endless rain and little warm weather, I was beginning to feel that I was on track for another failure. The plants hadn’t put on much growth and the garden was a right mess. However, on closer inspection, I did notice that the raised bed was draining very well. Although it had been topped up with standard compost earlier in the year, I never really put any plastic lining underneath, so last year it was not retaining the water, this year it was draining it nicely!
Eventually over the summer, the plants had grown up, looking sturdy and beginning to flower – let there be tomatoes! Come early August, fruits were on show and I was eagerly waiting them to ripen and increase in mass. I did read the T&M guide to growing tomatoes very early on, so I was familiar with side shooting this cordon variety, watching the T&M How to Grow Tomatoes video on the Youtube channel also helped. You’re probably reading from top to bottom here, so you haven’t yet realised I’m part of the web team at Thompson & Morgan. I’m a bit of a techy and usually more diverse to html code than gardening, having experienced gardeners around me, spurred me on further!
On a mild, dry August evening, yes we did have a few, I stepped out of the conservatory with bated breath. The salad was already prepared and just needed some of the tomatoes from the garden. I knew they were there, but this moment hadn’t been experienced before and I was really hoping they would be great. We had my parents round for dinner and I was about to plate up some salad fruits that I grew in the garden. I was able to pick 10-12 good sized fruits from the 5 tomato plants, whilst others were left to continue to ripen. I was very impressed with their flavour, size and shape and fleshy inner. They made very good sliced tomatoes for the burgers that I also cooked that week.
Since joining T&M, I caught the gardening bug immediately but it took me until my second year to reap the reward. Growing your own veg at home is more my theme at the moment, as opposed to flowers. I was later provided with a good crop of French and runner beans which I planted over the summer alongside the tomatoes, which surprisingly required little attention, my experience was the same for potatoes really.
2013 will be another challenging year for me as I would like to introduce some lettuce and other salads like radish and spring onions, alongside my tomatoes. They sound simple enough to introduce and I’m keen to get on with it again come spring. Wish me luck… and if a gardening geek can do it, then so can you!
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