Tomato Sowing – 2021 & Cleaning the Greenhouses

Spring has sprung, the clocks have gone forward and the weather is warming up, my tomatoes have been sown and are beginning to show themselves. As usual, I have sown a mixture of ones I like, ones I haven’t grown before, and some to refresh my seedbank.

Selecting the seeds for this last group is always difficult, why on earth would one grow tomatoes that aren’t particularly nice? Or at least ones that are near the bottom of taste/productivity. And the reason is one wouldn’t. So the seeds gradually get older meaning that they’re less likely to germinate and they’ll fall out of the seedbank and (as is frequently the case) can’t be replaced by UK suppliers (with Brexit, we’ve become more aware of the importance of bio-security and are trying to source seeds only from UK suppliers).

Our “germination place” has also been changed with (I think) reduced success. In previous years we’ve germinated our seeds on top of the gas boiler. An area which seemed to provide the right conditions to get good germination. With the (relatively recent) upgrade to our heating system, the boiler has been moved out into the garage and a more efficient boiler has meant there is less “wasted heat” to generate the right germination temperatures. So a combination of old seeds and less ideal germination conditions has meant that more of our tomatoes have failed to germinate than usual. Of the 30 varieties we’ve tried to grow, five have failed. Anyway, that leaves me with about 25 different varieties to grow this year and a question for next year to try and find a better “germination place”.

Having got them germinated, we’re now in the “in and out” activity of taking the seedlings out to the greenhouse in the morning and bringing them back in the evening to maximise sunlight and minimise cold. Its not too bad at the moment as we’re still at the point where the seedlings are small and in plugs. However, they’ll soon have to upgraded to 7cm pots when the number of pots needing to be carried in and out will increase and the space needed inside will become more of an issue. Ho hum.

We gave the greenhouses a good clean earlier in the week. Last year the tomatoes had something wrong with them which I eventually decided was Bacterial Canker. So we gave the greenhouses a thorough clean, washed out all the pots and will use bought, sterile compost rather than any home composted compost this year. Hopefully the plants will be better this year as a result.

We picked our first rhubarb of the year this week (crumble always tastes better with your own crop) and, finally, we’ve been chasing butterflies around the garden trying (and failing) to get pictures to put here (Peacock, Brimstone and Orange Tip) and we also saw the first Beefly of the year.