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Fernglade Farm
Fernglade Farm
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Cherokee, Victoria, AU
Climate zone:
Cool Temperate

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Fernglade Farm

Fernglade Farm

Cherokee, AU

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Tomato Jungle

Project: Fernglade Farm

Posted by Chris McLeod over 8 years ago

Tomatoes are the most productive crop on the farm. Sun ripened tomatoes, bursting with flavour are a real treasure and if you love the fruit as much as I do, you’ll always be able to recall the beautiful smell of a ripe tomato fruit. This season, I reached for gold because I more than doubled the number of tomato plants that I usually grow on the farm.

However, in order to double the number of tomato plants I also needed to double the garden space set aside for those plants. There are plans afoot to construct a purpose built tomato and strawberry bed over the next few months, but way back in October 2015 when the tomato seedlings were ready to be planted out, talk of purpose built tomato beds was exactly that: only talk!

The solution to the problem of where to grow all those extra tomato plants  quickly materialised. I simply would let the tomato plants take over the newly created berry enclosure. There was plenty of room in there. Or so I thought at the time. Back in early November 2015, the tomato seedlings looked like this:

Tomato seedlings planted in the berry enclosure early November 2015

Today, the berry enclosure looks like a complete and feral tomato jungle:

The tomato plants today in early February 2016

There are hundreds of ripening cherry tomatoes now in the berry enclosure. At this point, it is worth mentioning that I’m quite excited by these cherry tomato plants as they are the product of about four years of continuous seed selection as the editor and I have selected seed every year from various plants based on taste and also early ripening. It is also worth mentioning that they are an eclectic mix of colours including: Red, Orange, Yellow, Black, and Green/Black.

There is however, one minor problem with all those tomato plants in that berry enclosure: I can no longer get in there to pick the ripening fruit because the growth is so feral!

Observant readers will note that the tomato plants have grown so big that the sprinkler had to be placed on a table, and it now fearlessly rises (peers)  out of the mass of that tomato jungle, otherwise it wouldn't work at all. It’s dangerous in there and for all I know there may even be Triffids lurking in the jungle…

The lesson that I have taken away from this experience is that tomato plants don’t necessarily require staking and support in order to grow. In the above photo you can clearly see that the tomato plants are happily climbing towards the sun and are all self-supported or climbing all over their neighbours. Tomato plants actually require containment, and so I believe that the purpose of staking those plants is containment and also to train the plant to a more easily manageable shape so that it is easier to pick from. No one seriously wants a thicket of Triffids at the bottom of the garden!

A path has now been forged deep into the tomato jungle

Today the editor and I placed some temporary fencing in the tomato jungle and we can now access most of the rapidly ripening tomatoes. On that note, the tomatoes will continue to ripen from now until early winter (June) at which point the plants rapidly die and the remaining green fruit will be either brought inside the house to slowly ripen during the winter or be converted into green tomato chutney. As an interesting side note, there doesn’t appear to be much challenge in playing the game: “Where’s Toothy?” this week because I had to pick him up during that activity earlier today, because I was trying to stop him from hunting all of the frogs and reptiles that happily live in amongst the tomato plants.

All of the lessons learned from the tomato jungle will be incorporated into the future tomato enclosure.

Had I mentioned that the weather has cooled this week? I’m seriously over summer, and whilst I realise that if you are reading this in the depths of a Northern Hemisphere winter right now, that that statement may sound a bit odd. But it has been really hot, and I’m over it! Anyway, this week the weather has started to cool as the days are becoming slightly shorter. Yay!

For the rest of the entry click on: http://ferngladefarm.blogspot.com.au/

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