Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Try again with tomatoes

Each year I try to grow tomatoes and each year I neglect them as some vital point and they all die. People often assume that I grow my flowers in the polytunnel but it would be a disaster if I did as I find keeping anything alive indoors very challenging - we don't have, for example, a single houseplant.
This year, however, it is all going to be different . . . . well actually that is not strictly true - the plants pictured above were bought from Gloagburn Farm Shop (fabulous cakes) just outside Perth, as I had already managed to kill off all my seedlings.
I have decided to grow the tomatoes using a technique called ring culture. The idea is that the plants have two types of root - feeding roots just below the surface, and drinking roots further down. By growing them in large plastic pots with the bases cut out I will be able to feed the top roots within the pot with liquid feed, and by watering the soil around the pot I will be able to give it plenty to drink without "diluting" the taste of the tomatoes. As I say, that is the theory. I have elaborated on it slightly by sinking upside down plastic bottles next to the pots - I cut the bases off to make them into funnels and can water directly into these and they will take the water right down into the soil.
The food for the tomatoes will be made from comfrey leaves - I grow a sterile form called bocking 14 - the plants are cut down and the leaves steeped in water until they decompose into a smelly and nutritious feed which is high in potash. I have also shredded some leaves and put them in the top of the pots as a mulch.
All of this SOUNDS great . . . . .hmmmm


Heather said...

the picture next to the tomatoes is comfrey isn't it?

I grow comfrey and use it in one of my soap recipes - I think comfrey is such a strikingly beautiful plant but have kept it in small walled garden with lemon balm so they can out compete each other and not invade the rest of the garden.


Jane said...

Yes it is comfrey - the sterile form so that it doesn't self seed all over the place - it is in a raised bed outside the tunnel so it can't escape and invade everywhere. The sterile form is also meant to be higher in potash or something. It is very vigorous - I am quite happy to pass some roots on to anyone when it dies down in the Autumn.
Which soap? What is it good for apart from tomatoes

Heather said...

Comfrey is an old fashioned herb and is often referred to as 'boneknit' or something similar in most parts of the country - and as its name implies was used in poltices and bandagings to aid healing - its also very good as a skin tonic - and I use it with Yarrow - unfortunately ugly plant to my mind - but another great skin tonic for normal skin.