The greenhouse is doing rather well this year, even if I do say it myself. The tomatoes are sturdy and a very healthy deep green. There’s a load of fruits developing and some of the Ailsa Craig and Black Russian fruits are a reasonable size already.
The heat and strong sunshine earlier seems to have helped rather than hindered growth. I was a little concerned that shading the greenhouse and then the weather changing may have not been good for them. It appears not, they’re still doing well.
It’s been about a week since I last sideshooted them – the number that had grown and how large some were was a bit of a surprise. Not removing sideshoots is one of the biggest mistakes new growers make. They end up with massive bushes and loads of tiny fruits.
In commercial tomato greenhouses they have teams who go around and do nothing else but remove the sideshoots from the cordon tomatoes. Not so bad when you have 20 or 30 plants but day-in, day-out a pretty boring job.
At least with bush tomatoes there’s no sideshooting to bother about – but they’re far less productive per square foot of floor space in a greenhouse. If we lived in the sunny south-east and especially the London area, I’d certainly put a row of bush tomatoes in outside. It’s easier to use a proper bush variety, not a semi-determinate type that spreads too far. If you plant out under cloches they can really get going earlier in the year, outgrowing the cloches when the weather is hopefully warm and sunny.
Watering is the other big problem with tomatoes. Like most plants. Too wet and they drown but if you let them dry out when the fruit are forming that’s really going to cause problems. It throws out the calcium balance and the fruits will most often be hit with blossom end rot.
The plants on the left of the greenhouse are in quadgrow planters. Basically pots which are fed and watered via a wick fed from the 30 litre water reservoir below. The consistent water supply – so long as you don’t let the reservoir empty – prevents drying out problems.
On the right hand side and rear of the greenhouse, they’re planted into the border. The border acts like a reservoir although I’d be happier if there was more humus in the soil / compost mix to act as a sponge. Watering the border can be troublesome if the surface has dried out so I’ve run a soaker hose around it. Plug and go play! It takes longer than using watering cans but it doesn’t matter as it’s not time you actually spend doing it.
There’s one cucumber in the rear border on the left which is doing well. My cucumber leaf eating cat has yet to notice it, which helps! Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.
In the centre I’ve a row of aubergines in pots. Now I’ll admit that aubergines are a crop I’ve rarely managed to grow well. I usually get some fruits but not as many as I should. These plants are really doing well. The top strip of the greenhouse isn’t shaded so they’re getting all the available light, which might account for how they’re performing.
It’s getting a little cramped in the greenhouse now so I may move some of the aubergines into the solar potting shed. That’s not being used so much now.