The first tomatoes of the season always seem to steal up on you, coming as a surprise! With all the hard work put into the crop for their first four months, from sowing to fruiting, it shouldn't be so but after all, surprises are welcome in the horticultural world! There are plenty of setbacks - cold weather during the day as well as at night, no sunshine, problems with this or that bit of machinery, or worst of all a power cut during a thunderstorm.
So they look good and taste even better! The early yield, in the first two weeks, often seem to have a less strong taste but there are a lot of differentials in tomato growing and the actual sun does make a difference to the tomato even though it is pampered with boiler heating and CO2 generation to keep up the carbohydrates. There was some good bright days in the first two months of the year, and that helped the first trusses to set reasonably well.
So now we are into the main work of the season when we pick three times a week and do all the cultivating such as lowering the plants, twisting the stems round the strings and picking off the lower leaves where tomatoes have been picked off. Quite an assignment! But it is good work, some might say even therapeutic were it not for the relentless demands of the plants for the next five months! We shall be out there at 0745 in the morning each day before the sun gets up and that makes a lot of difference. Because, of course, we are not primarily tomato growers but monks with a full days work in Church and in the house and with our guests.
We have had one or two email enquiries as to how to set up hydroponics - mostly in countries where the temperature is normally a minimum average of 20 degrees C! But we have no expertise in growing in such conditions. If you are in South America or the Far East you need local scientific advice for growing in hydroponics. To those of you who are dedicated growers in whatever country, we say 'Good Luck!