Tag Archive | Saving tomato seeds

Slabs And Planning For Next Year

My poor old allotment shed has been sitting on a bit of a slope for the last eight or nine years and unfortunately this has caused my shed to lean to one side, like a crooked house.  So this week I have been preparing a much better base for it to sit on, by laying slabs that I have recycled from a path I don’t use anymore.  Mr Thrift helped me to dig up the grass to prepare for the slabs and he helped me to lay four slabs, I managed to lay six more on my own the next day and on Wednesday my brother in law (who has the plot next to me) helped me to lay the final six and I was very grateful for their help.

Unfortunately, as I was laying the slabs on a slope, I needed to keep digging the soil from underneath each slab to ensure they were straight.   I must admit I did find it so hard at one stage that I started to wonder why I do things like laying slabs, instead of staying at home painting my nails and watching day time TV….but I suppose that just isn’t me.  I am now very proud of my square of slabs.

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Tomorrow I will attempt to move my shed over to the new slabs, again with help from Mr Thrift and my brother-in-law.  I pray it won’t collapse in the process.

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Between slabbing I have been preparing for next year by planting my overwintering onions and spring cabbage.

The overwintering onions that I planted in 2011 were not very good at all.  This was due to a fairly new pest called the Allium Leaf Miner (you can find details of it here).

In 2012 I planted seed sowed onions instead of sets, as I had read that they produce slightly stronger growth and after planting them I covered them with environmesh.  These onions were much better and I was very pleased with my crop:

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I’m not sure if the seed sown onions made a difference, but the environmesh definately stopped the Allium Leaf Miner, so this year I have planted them in exactly the same way:

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I also planted my spring cabbages this week:

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I prepared the beds for the spring cabbage and the overwintering onions by just raking in some blood, fish and bone a week or so before.

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I have also been clearing away the old plants in  ‘Calendula Alley’ next to my polytunnel.  The plants gave a beautiful display of flowers that all self seeded from the previous years plants.

I grow Calendula as they are great for attacting beneficial insects to my allotment, such as hoverflies, bees and butterflies and as an extra bonus, the petals are edible and look really pretty scattered into salads.

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It’s quite sad when the plants have finished flowering and it’s time to clear them all away for another year, but at least I can add them all to the compost heap.

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I covered the area with weed suppressant to prevent any weeds from growing:

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I am amazed to say that my outdoor tomatoes are still producing lovely, juicy fruit.  I am unable to freeze or preserve any more of them due to our building work, so I am giving bags of them away to anyone that wants them.  I have never managed to go this late in the season without them succumbing to the dreaded tomato blight, but this has been an exceptional year.  You can read about tomato blight here.

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The variety of tomato I grew was ‘Outdoor Girl’.  This week I have saved some of the seeds ready for next year.  There are different ways to save tomato seeds but I find this way easiest:

 All I do is chop the tomato in half and scrape out the seeds and spread them on a piece of kitchen towel.

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Allow the kitchen towel to completely dry out for a few days and then roll it up and pop it into an envelope ready to store it in a cool, dark and dry place.  Next year I just rip off a few seeds and plant them into compost with the kitchen towel still attached and it works a treat.

Please note:  Do NOT save seed from ‘F1’ varieties as they will not come ‘true to type’, which means you can’t guarantee what you will actually be growing.

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My allotment is still producing, but things are definately slowing down.

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One lovely thing I harvested this week was my first melon from my polytunnel.  I have never grown melons before and thought I would give it a try this year and I am very pleased with the results.  I have seven melons from two plants.  The melons are actually an outdoor variety called ‘Outdoor Wonder’, but I thought I may have better results planting them in my polytunnel.

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The melon was delicious and my daughters loved it, so I will definately grow melons again.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.

Saving Tomato Seeds and Tomato and Basil Soup

Today at the allotment I noticed that my poached egg flowers (Latin name Limnanthes douglasii) have self-seeded and given me a new crop of flowers.

Poached egg plant

Hoverflies love the poached egg plant and in return, they feed on aphids as well as pollinating crops.

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My greenhouse at home

In my greenhouse at home, I have grown six different varieties of tomatoes:

Money-maker (a well-known variety),

Wladeks (a heritage variety)

Four others that were given to me that are not named varieties.

The tomatoes that have grown the best, are two of the unnamed varieties, therefore I have decided to save the seed from both of them to grow again next year.

The pictures above and below are the tomatoes that I have decided to save their seed from.  One is a cherry tomato and the other is a larger variety.

It is really easy to save tomato seeds for the following year, providing that you are not saving seed from an F1 variety.  The reason for this, is that the seeds you save from an F1 variety will never grow the same as the plant they came from.

I scoop the tomato seeds out of the tomato and put them on a piece of paper towel on my window sill to dry.  In a few days, when the jelly surrounding the seeds has dried, I put the whole paper towel in an envelope and store it in a cool dark place.

Seed saved for next year

The following year, I plant the seeds with the paper towel still attached to it.

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Today I made some Tomato and Basil Soup with some of my tomatoes.  This is another easy recipe, though it does take a little bit longer than normal soup recipes, as you pass it all through a seive to remove the seeds, but it is worth it, as it is lovely.

Tomato and Basil Soup

1400g ripe tomatoes cut in half

2 medium onions chopped

2 medium potatoes chopped small

2 tablespoons of olive oil

550ml of vegetable stock

2 garlic cloves chopped

3 teaspoons of dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Gently heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and potato and soften for approximately 15 minutes, without browning

Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes

Add the stock, garlic and basil.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Use a hand blender to blend the soup roughly and then pass the whole lot through a sieve to extract the seeds.

Re-heat the soup and serve with homemade bread.

 

I actually made extra today and froze the portions.  It freezes really well

Thank you for reading my blog today.