The tomato plants are 1.2 meters high now and look as if they have 'taken off' with strong, long leaves stretched out and the tops looking very vigorous. There are two trusses setting and the third in the head.
But for us it is heads down as we sit on the trolleys between the rows and take off the shoots that have sprouted from every node, from the bottom of the plant to the top. This is a once for all activity. It is a slow business, taking twenty minutes for every row of sixty plants. This has taken us 7½ man hours. From now on we only take out the top shoot every week and twist the head round the string - not such an arduous business as 'frisking' the entire plants of unwanted shoots.
As you can see, the flowers are setting fruit. But apart from the occasional day of sunshine the light has been very bad in the past two to three weeks and one wonders if the fruit will swell properly. But these things are beyond our control and are part of the hazards of growing plants for food.
The Spring always brings a spirit of hope and new life in many spheres. Not least in the world of farming and horticulture. But recent statements about the Common Agricultural Policy for Europe do not speak of any overt support for those who grow the nation's food in the UK. It is hard for governments to come to terms with the facts of growing food. It is an expensive business today. So the salving of government and EEC conscience seems to be to support imports under the guise of 'cheap food'. The reality is that generally where this 'cheap food' comes from is often on account of the exceedingly low wages paid to the workers of those countries. It is also often overlooked that imported food does not necessarily have the same safeguards in terms of growing standards such as spraying for disease and pests, as is laid down by EEC regulations - and adhered to in the UK. In other words our produce is guaranteed well produced and of prime quality (at least ours is in the monastery!)
Think of us as we get into the cropping procedures in the next two months. First pick is due on March 27th!