February 2003

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We had one amazing Spring day last week, in the middle of Winter! It was full sunshine, blue sky, not a cloud in sight and 17 degrees C. The tomato plants loved it. But of course since then we have reverted to real Winter with the temperature at zero or just above it with an Arctic North East wind battering the British Isles. Poor old plants! The glasshouse finds it difficult to keep 14-15 degrees at night during these conditions of cold and strong wind, but during the day, if there is sun, the snow helps to give more reflected light and the temperature will rise to 23-25 degrees without heat. However, the plants will survive and indeed the first truss is setting and the second truss is shaping up. The plants are three feet high and the tops are strong. The pictures cannot convey the strength of the heads of these young plants.
We have just 'frisked' all the plants to get rid of the adventitious shoots which grow all the way up the stem at this stage of their growth. From now on we need just take out the top shoot of each plant each week. So in the days to come we shall be into our weekly routine of twisting and de-shooting until at the end of the month they will be reaching the wires and they will be layered in position.
They should be fruiting in two months time or a little less depending upon the amount of light we receive between now and then. But we will keep you up to date with progress. If you were to be living near us you would be like many people in West Malling and surrounding villages just waiting for the new Monastery Tomatoes to appear in the shops! We shall need all your good wishes for this season to succeed!

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