The tomato crop 2002 has just been planted. There is sun but the temperature outside hovers between -2 and 3 degrees centigrade at the moment, using a lot of oil to bring the glasshouse temperature up to 18 night and 20 day. As you see from the top photograph the plants are 6 inches high. In about ten days the first buds should appear in the heads of the plants and then the temperature is turned down to 18 day and 16 night. If all goes well, at about two weeks after that, the first flowers will be open and we are into normal growing temperatures of 20 degrees when there is sufficient light and 16 degrees night temperature. Work slowly builds up - vibrating the plants three times a week to make sure enough pollen is released for fertilisation and then taking out shoots.
The other photograph shows our glasshouse situation vis-a-vis the other monastery buildings - with our house and the church and guesthouse in the background. There is much to do here apart from growing tomatoes - our own monastic life and looking after guests as well as the grounds and sundry jobs. But it is the commercial work of growing tomatoes which earths our life here and we enjoy the balance of work and reading and our worship.
However, the economic climate for tomato growing in the UK with high capital and running costs does mean that we gain less and less in terms of income from this work. It is on the cards that there will be imports from Morocco this coming season to add to the vast quantities arriving from the Cannaries and Holland and Spain! What matters, of course, is the quality and we can always rely on our tomatoes to outshine those from anywhere else!
Just a bit of trumpet blowing ........! Spare us a thought.
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