Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Making a hot bed

Hilda checking the tomatoes in the hot bed

In midsummer we had some bags of farmyard manure delivered to the allotment. We had planned to dig it straight in to empty ground before planting up some hungry crops, but on inspection some of the compost was a little too fresh to use this way, and needed to be matured.

After a week or two of looking at the manure, stacked in an unlovely pile of blue plastic bags, I decided to take a Permaculture approach, and turn a problem into a solution. On our new plot we had inherited a home-made cold frame, sturdily-built of window frames, but currently unused.  We emptied all the manure into the cold frame, topped it with a layer of soil, and then made soil-filled planting pockets into which we planted our young plants – two courgettes and two tomatoes. The manure and soil had filled the cold-frame about 2/3 full, so as well as enjoying warm feet courtesy of the still-maturing manure, the young plants also had some protection from the elements from the glass sides, which was an ideal growing environment for these plants.

the biggest truss of tomatoes ever!

So, how did they grow?  The courgettes have produced several glossy dark-green fruits, and have more yet to come, but the tomatoes have performed most spectacularly. These plants, one a mini ‘tumbler’ variety, and the other a large fruiting beefsteak type, didn’t have the best start in life. Leftovers from planting up the polytunnel and an outside bed, they were left in a pot too long before planting out, but soon made up for lost time.

The mini tomato has the biggest truss of fruits any of us have seen, currently still green, and resembling a  huge bunch of grapes, and the other has a large truss of good-sized fruits, both on very compact plants that seem to have put all their energy into producing the crop rather than growing leaves.

I think we’ll use this method again next year, probably to grow another hungry crop, like squash. These are good value on the allotment, with our favoured ones giving lots of small squashes, which are good to share out at Gardening Club, but they need a rich, moist bed to grow well.

Finally, once the crops have finished we’ll empty the hot-bed and spread the compost, still with a lot of nutrients in it,   onto a nearby bed. Then we’ll cover it all in cardboard and soil (see ‘Mulch’) and leave it to the worms to dig it into the soil. Easy!