97. The tomato plant massacre

If you are of a nervous disposition I suggest you stop reading now and wait for the next blog post. As I should be in New York, the header (of a Staten Island ferry) and this photo (of Ben and Jerry’s failed flavours) are from our last trip there, just to torture me.

Ice creams you never had

The final photo of the last post (96, dated 21st June 2020) was of tomatoes waiting to be trimmed and tied to their stakes. I should have gone to consult my books from the RHS or Dr Hessayon (born 1928 and still working!) but I was too idle. I’d have to take off my gardening clothes and boots and wash my hands. JD was laying cork tiles in the bathroom in preparation for the new toilet to be installed and I didn’t want to disturb him. I looked on my phone for advice. Some gardening chappie said I needed to take off all the lower growth so that the plant would put all its strength into growing straight and tall. I watched his video (on my phone in bright sunlight). Not sure if he was right but it is some years since I tidied up tomatoes. I prepared one. It looked scalped and bare. I should have gone to look at my books but instead watched the video on my phone again. Yes, that’s what it should look like. I gave the other 23 plants the same treatment then tidied my tools away.

Greta contemplating my work

I was still worried so over supper I showed JD the photo I’d taken. The heartless beast laughed! I’d taken off way too much, all the leaves and everything. I couldn’t find the video to show why I’d done it. I spent a sleepless night feeling terrible, killing off the poor defenceless plants I’d hand reared from seeds, never to reach their full potential, lying innocent in their own beds. If I’d decimated them, at least one in ten would still be alive now. Can I blame JD for being busy with the tiles?

Making sure the tiles stick

We discussed it more the next morning and decided that I probably hadn’t killed them. Post coronavirus, maybe pleached tomatoes is the way to go, less likelihood of germs on the leaves spreading to other people. No back breaking work picking the fruit off the bottom of the plants. I might have invented a new way of gardening (ignoring the video)!

My conclusion from all this is that I need a snug little reading shed in the garden. I can have a couple of shelves for the books, heating to keep them from getting mouldy, a comfy chair and table, a basket for my gloves, secateurs, snips, string etc and maybe a rag rug. (I need to research how to make one). Maybe the ability to make a cuppa? On second thoughts, that would involve plumbing for the sink plus a fridge, storage for mugs etc, forget that. A flask of tea or coffee will be much more in keeping with escaping from the world. Solar panels on the roof so I can be off-grid? I’ll need to consult my energy expert (George) on that. A door at the side with sweet patterned curtains at the window. I think I’ve got the perfect place in mind, south facing, hidden away from view. Our wedding anniversary is only about six weeks away so too soon for that, but maybe my next birthday present? Or, I could probably have it installed and JD would never know, unless he wandered that way (a high probability, I have to admit). The other problem with that plan is getting him out of the way. Now, when does Clipper restart again?

So, what to call it? If it was for JD it would obviously be his man shed. In these days it is most likely non-PC to call it a woman shed. A “person who menstruates when of childbearing age” Shed (PWMWOCAS for short)? Bit of a mouthful and sounds like a Welsh hamlet. Oh no, have I inadvertently come up with the worst Welsh swear word ever?? I have (at least) two Welsh speakers following this blog, they don’t know each other so no risk of collusion. Let’s see if they remove themselves in disgust at my language.

I know, I’ll name it My Garden Shed, (a bit like MJN in Cabin Pressure), MYGS for short. “I’m off to MYGS for an hour or so darling to see how to trim tomatoes”. Perfect. And here’s the colour chart for deciding on the curtains and walls.

Colours of London jigsaw

I’m getting so blase about the cocktails, not only have I stopped taking pictures of us drinking them, I didn’t even bother to get a photo of the cocktail itself this weekend. The next ingredient in the alphabet is Calvados. This is a cider brandy made in Normandy from either apples (mostly) or pears (occasionally). A bit like staying in Somerset then. We bought this particular bottle on holiday in Normandy in 2009. (Now you know how we have such an extensive bar collection). The cocktail consisted of Calvados, Grenadine, Absinthe and gin and was a lurid pink. For those of you who can see colours, maybe the second in on the red row above.

10 year old Calvados (now ten years older!)

The main aim of the holiday was a wedding but on our way we visited some friends and afterwards stayed at a cottage in St-Vaast-La-Hougue, on the coast. There we discovered Maison Gosselin, an absolute Aladdin’s Cave of food and drink, much beloved of sailors who call into the marina (this is often why they call into the marina). There are a few videos in this link so even if you don’t want to polish up your French you can be amazed at the variety of things they have. https://www.maison-gosselin.fr/ There’s a dinky little island opposite called Ile Tatihou which you get to on a strange contraption (now there’s a new theme for my blog, odd vehicles we have travelled in or on over the years). It has wheels to drive up onto the hard when it arrives at the island. I’ve checked and, disappointingly, it doesn’t have an exotic name, it’s merely “an amphibious craft”.

Another theme that seems to be all too common is Adie And Her Escapades. This week, helping with weeding. Or more accurately, spreading forget-me-not seeds around the garden. No wonder we have them sprouting up everywhere. I had to groom her twice in as many hours, the first time she was black all over. I’ve yet to discover where she’s going to be so laden with them. At least it’s not ticks this week.

Happy Adie

P.S. the tomatoes are still alive.

5 thoughts on “97. The tomato plant massacre

  1. BTW, decimated means elimination of a tenth, not the commonly supposed 9 tenths, and was used on mutinous Roman legions as a punishment for the whole legion.

    PS Geraldine’s a whizz with tomatoes!

    All the best

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  2. Hi Sam you trim off the foliage when the plants are loaded with fruit. Before that you pinch out side shoots that grow out of the main stem at 45 degree angle, leaving the ones at right angles Dick shook his head!😆 lots of love Sue.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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