It’s the end of the road for Martin Fish’s toma­toes

I’ve picked the last ripe ones and now it’s time to clear out the plants

Garden News (UK) - - News - MARTIN FISH

I’ve been keep­ing the toma­toes tick­ing over for as long pos­si­ble in the poly­tun­nel to al­low the last of the fruits to ripen, but fi­nally the plants have come to the end of the road. I know lots of peo­ple clear their plants out at the end of Septem­ber so they can empty and clean the green­house or poly­tun­nel, but I al­ways make it my aim to ripen as many fruits as pos­si­ble, sim­ply be­cause I don’t like green tomato chut­ney that much!

If the au­tumn weather’s mild, as it has been this sea­son, you can usu­ally keep the plants go­ing through Oc­to­ber and into early Novem­ber. In my poly­tun­nel there’s no ar­ti­fi­cial heat, al­though it’s sur­pris­ing how warm it gets on a bright day, and those few ex­tra de­grees re­ally help to ripen the fruit. Cut­ting back on wa­ter­ing helps, in fact I’ve not wa­tered the plants for the past few weeks, and good ven­ti­la­tion is es­sen­tial to pre­vent grey mould de­vel­op­ing. Over the past month there has been a steady sup­ply of tasty, ripe toma­toes that we’ve eaten fresh, bot­tled or made into sauces.

How­ever, I now need to clear the poly­tun­nel be­fore win­ter so that I can bring some plants un­der­cover for pro­tec­tion, so the toma­toes have to fi­nally go. All the last of the ripe ones have been picked and the ma­jor­ity are des­tined to be­come home-made tomato soup. For­tu­nately, there aren’t many green toma­toes, but they won’t be wasted, and my wife Jill will make just a few jars of chut­ney.

Once all the fruit is picked, the canes are re­moved and the plants dug out of the soil. The stems will be chopped up and added to my com­post heap along with other gar­den waste and au­tumn leaves, and when I’ve cleared and forked over the soil bor­der, my re­ward will be one fi­nal cheese and home-grown tomato sand­wich of the year!

My last ripe toma­toes of the sea­son

Fork out the plants to re­move as many of the old roots as pos­si­ble

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