As you may or may not know, I have a particular star performer growing every year on the farm. It’s a variety of tomato that has become so dear to my family as well as me professionally. It looks like an Ox Heart, but tastes like no other Ox Heart. Could be bundled in with the Beefsteak gang of tomatoes, but doesn’t behave in cooking like any Beefsteak. In this intermediate naming vacuum, it has been affectionately called ‘Geoff’s special tomato’. Poor thing… A bit like having called Mozart ‘Mummy’s little piano darling’. Nevertheless, until a box full challenges me for inflicting emotional anguish and wins the right to rename itself, then ‘Geoff’s special tomatoes’ they will remain.
You may know by now that I have reserved the front patio of our house for my elevated garden and a variety of edible pot plants. North facing, additional reflected light as well as stored heat emanating from the dark tiles beneath. Its pride of place for, here we go again, my “special” crops. These plants are provided the sort of treatment that can make my other veggies green with envy (maybe a good thing) and red with rage. Ever been to a proper outback sheep station? Totally remote and enduring the full harshness Australian climate can deliver. Here every breathing entity has to pull their weight. Rations are hard earned and never excessive. Unless, you ‘re that fluffy little lap dog that gets to live inside with the farms matriarch. That blow dried, clipped little yapper sits at or under the table, hand fed morsels of the lamb it’s canine brothers and sisters have toiled under 45°C heat to herd into submission, only to be thrown working dog rations of a shot kangaroo and trough of water. Yep, that’s my patio!
It actually goes completely against my nature to single out favourites and I feel shameful describing the patio with literary license to be a place of privilege. It’s more accurately a growing space under my watchful eye, and constitutes being the standard to which my proper crops need to perform. Somewhat a horticultural guilded cage but I actually recommend having a trial area like this for seriously curious gardeners on the quest of intelligently assessing their season’s efforts with an eye towards better future crops.
Anyway, getting back to my pampered pomodores, ‘Geoff’s special tomatoes’. Here is a prechristmas (20 days into summer) photo of the tight little clusters of fruit (berries to the pedant). Very exciting. Can’t wait to harvest and show you great tomato recipes.
In addition to the ‘Geoff’s Special Tomatoes’ I have growing on the patio, I planted several rows (amounting to around 100 plants) of my special tomatoes in the field. They were sown 3 weeks later than the plants on my patio, and just after Christmas, I sent a cry for help to Noel and Vince regarding my vigorous plants needing more flowers. Noel responded with some great advice (see comments); however it turns out, Noel, Vince… I need to relax and trust the pre-preparation on which we all collaborated.
In preparing the tomato beds, we performed a soil analysis. Vince, you looked at the report and knowing my crop expectations, asked me to feed the soil with only Seamungus. And Noel, we formed the beds with Gino to be able to capture sun. All other characteristics of ample water supply, great soil texture, pH balance, and general soil quality were in place (Angela and I have always been soil -respecting farmers). Lo and Behold, our preparation actually paid off. Because 10 days after my mayday call regarding needing more flowers, THEY APPEARED.
Pleased to report I am the proud father expectant to a vibrant crop-to-be.
Worth pointing out, my 28 years of growing wonderful tomatoes has been more akin to witchcraft than scientific analysis; very successful witchcraft, mind you. Naume was the grand Wizard, Merlin, and I the sorcerer’s apprentice (Shut up Geoff!) He had a more intuitive approach to growing; something that couldn’t be passed on without professionals like Noel from Elders and Vince from Neutrog applying their explanations to what Naume taught me, and then recommending accessible ways for you, the reader, to follow our approach of planet, plant and people friendly growing, without boiling the cauldron. Mind you, I still do a little cauldron work from time to time in honour of my mentor. Looking at this years crops, However, I think Naume would have had a beer or two with Noel and Vince.