With the right conditions, tomatoes do love to grow and if you haven’t got going yet it’s not too late. The warmer weather and good light means that you won’t have to cosset them like earlier sown seeds. Mine started in a propagator, then went under a growlight and then onto the greenhouse bench until finally being planted in their final positions in growbags topped with GrowPots. The first flower trusses are now forming and once they open I will start to feed the plants.
I know I do bang on about it, but autumn sowing of hardy annuals in a greenhouse or coldframe really does make all the difference. At a time when the light levels are low and leaf growth slows right down, the young plants are able to put most of their energy into growing a substantial root system which will get them off to a flying start when they are planted out in the spring.
It’s a new one to me – I was in the greenhouse watering the tomatoes when I noticed that the leaves were being eaten and there were caterpillar droppings scattered about. I came indoors and did a quick web search and established it is the Tomato Moth caterpillar. The suggested solution was to give each plant a firm shake – and sure enough caterpillars were soon falling off the plants (as well as the occasional unripe tomato) onto the soil. I gathered up approximately 20 and will repeat this action daily. The caterpillars can be green, but are generally brown like the one I photographed. They can defoliate the plants and munch their way into the tomatoes so are a pest not to be ignored. They are probably one of the few downsides to the glorious weather – rather like butterflies the moths are having a bumper year.
As – what I am assured by the Met Office is the last snowfall – drifts past the window, I’m resolutely preparing for warmer days. The dahlias that have successfully overwintered under the greenhouse bench have been disinterred from their dry compost and repotted as have their colourful new companions. Dahlias, I’ve decided, are rather like zinnias. Forget subtle shades and go for maximum colour impact. This is especially true in our coastal garden where pale colours can look washed out in high summer.
I’ve started sowing salads of varying sorts in my cold greenhouse and a couple of warm days has had them germinating. I stand the pots in a polystyrene fish box and cover them with fleece if really cold weather threatens, but generally I find that the greenhouse is all the protection they need.