tomato ferlineWith 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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