We have 83 tomato plants, nearly all in our polytunnel. After a dismal show in July and early August, they have suddenly produced a kilo a day. I chose nine different varieties, nearly all Italian because they do the best: Cuor di Bue (Beef Heart) is the size of a small melon, the biggest tomato I’ve ever seen, Tigerella and Green Zebra are prettily striped. Costoluto di Parma is pleated, rugged and delicious, Auriga and Bolzano are a citrus yellow and good for migraine sufferers.
We have had tomato salad, Tuscan antipasto with baked tomatoes and garlic, pasta and risotto, fried tomatoes with bacon, tomato soup with basil and oven-dried tomatoes. I have followed chef David Tanis and frozen them (works well for sauces) and roasted them with fried potatoes and sausages.
The tomato must be one of the world’s favourite ingredients but best of all, they look so cheerful. Here is a picture of my current harvest, all sizes, orange, red, crimson and yellow – with Black Krim, red/yellow Pineapple and the plum Principe Borghese yet to come.
My seeds come from two specialists: Simpsons Seeds (www.simpsonsseeds.co.uk) and Franchi Seeds (www.seedsofitaly.com). Both also do Italianate vegetables such as salads, chicory and courgettes. Simpsons have lots of chillies and Franchi a pet seed range for hamsters, budgies, squirrels, parrots and dogs and cats.
Don’t talk to me about cucumbers: six a day and we can’t even give them away. Cucumber soup, cucumber sandwiches, cucumber salad……