Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.


Love & Hate

It’s hard to describe fully how I feel about growing tomatoes.

It was fun in the cold dark days of January discussing new heritage varieties for the year and getting carried away with online ordering. This year we selected 38 varieties.

In March when the seeds got sown it’s was a real signal that the growing season had begun in the polytunnel. By mid-April I despised them, they added greatly to the springtime stress, demanding attention as the seedlings quickly outgrew their seed trays. Endless hours of pricking out followed.

They were hated in May when there is always a frenzied call for all hands on deck to fill 25 litre containers. There’s never enough homemade compost ready, nursery supplies were scavenged. The quantities are so large a complete reorganisation of the polytunnel is always needed. It’s utter chaos for a week or so.

Simultaneously customers started to ask for the plants. Some customers really appreciated  the time, effort and love that we gave our tomatoes. The catalogue got  created. Inevitably other customers just went back to their cars empty handed and heads shaking, continuing down the A12 in search of a ‘normal’ tomato plant.

Then on a hot July morning the polytunnel doors got pulled open and the overwhelming smell of mature tomato foliage hit you, and it just smelt of pure summer.

Then more anxiety followed:
Were the bees adequately pollinating the flowers? A helping hand- pollination followed.

Don’t overwater the plants.

Don’t underwater them either.

Foliage was checked daily for the dreaded blight.

“How are the tomatoes doing”?  My obsessed boss asked regularly.

The fruits started to appear, the colours began to form, they got heavier, more feeding and staking was needed. The wind was watched, polytunnel sides lowered if there was a summer storm. In August the harvest began, everyone swooned. I sighed with relief. Smiling chefs. Happy boss.



Delicious dishes of warm tomato dishes appeared, bread soaked just long enough in their juices. Capers, basil, sea salt were added. Fermenting jars were filled. Small varieties got pickled. Trolleys were needed to transport the huge harvests to the kitchen. It’s was a successful harvest, the pressure is off. What a goddamn relief.

The tasting day finally arrives, hastily thrown together as some varieties have finished cropping.




We slice them, tiny mounds of sea salt and hunks of fresh bread are put on the table. They are pounced upon, juices dripped until we can eat no more and duly rated.

The result of six months of a team effort.

Was it all worth it? Absolutely.

Doing it all again next year? Damn right we are.

How do I feel about them now? I bloody love tomatoes.



Surprising taste tests results out of a possible top score of 5.
Armenian 4.5
Beauty King 4.5
Berkeley Tie Dye 4.5
Black beauty 4
Black Krim 3.5
Black pineapple 4
Carbon 3
Chocolate stripes 3.5
Costoluto Di Parma 2
Costoluto Fiorentino 4 – good for sauces, not the tastiest but early and good yield.
Dad Sunset 3.5
Dr Wyches  yellow beefsteak 3-3.5
Emerald Apple 3
Flame 4
Gardeners delight 1 (The English favourite!)
Gold medal 5
Gold rush currant 3.5
Green grape 5
Indigo blueberry 1
Marmande 2
Orange queen 4
Orange Wellington 4.5
Porterhouse 1
Purple bumble bee 5
Raf  3.5 Not the tastiest but gets a high rating as it gave prolific yields. 3.5
Sweet solano 4.5
Todd County Amish 2
Tondo piccolo 2
Worlds smallest 1

limegarden@sky.com • 5th September 2016

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2 Comments on Love & Hate

Kristin said : Guest Report 11 months ago

Wow! Just when I think I have grown more tomatoes than I care to list and I see your list. I haven't grown any of these yet. Its a lot of work, I agree but so worth it.

Niamh said : Guest Report 11 months ago

Thanks for your comment, it's now the 20th of September and we are still harvesting them from the second sowing on the 1st of April.

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