The first written record of the tomato was around the early 1550s, and during the next two centuries it was introduced throughout Europe and the western world. The Italian people first grew tomatoes as vegetables in the early 16th century and called them ‘pomi d’oro’ or apples of gold. Their popularity grew, and with improved cultural developments, tomatoes were soon growing and thriving throughout Italy.
Today, there seems to be as many tomato varieties as there are ice-creams, but I still feel that Apollo, Grosse Lisse, Roma, Ox Heart and the old timer, Rouge de Marmande, to be the most outstanding for texture, flavour and keeping ability.
Apollo, whilst being smaller than Grosse Lisse, has great flavour and is an excellent all-round type.
Grosse Lisse needs staking and benefits from pruning. Its flavour is as good as any of the newer tomatoes. Fruit is large, bright red and ball-shaped with smooth skin.
Roma is the traditional egg-shaped, bush variety, favoured for preserving, making chutneys and tomato sauce.
Ox Heart has large, pale pink fruit, few seeds and low acid.
Rouge de Marmande, an early maturing, bush tomato, is without doubt one of the best flavoured.
There are heirloom varieties of tomatoes, others as small as grapes and those that can weigh up to half a kilogramme with all shapes, sizes and colours in between. There are early-, mid- and late-fruiting types, climbers, bush, tree and patio forms, but no matter which you grow, there’s nothing more perfect than picking your own, sun-ripened ‘tommies’.
Although cauliflowers take up a fair amount of space in the garden and are relatively slow growing, there is no substitute for being able to pick and plate them on the same day.
Originally from Asia, this member of the Brassica family is closely related to broccoli, and both are descended from the wild cabbage. Cauliflowers come yellow, orange, green and purple, but white is still the most popular grown in the garden. There are also mini varieties for smaller and container gardens.
Cauliflowers require deeply-dug, well-drained fertile soil. They also like lime which should be ideally applied several weeks prior to planting.
Choose a sunny position. Don’t plant them in a sheltered or shady spot as they seem to do better when exposed to the movement of the wind. A regular dressing of nitrogen, especially late in the growing season, is beneficial.
To extend the harvesting season either plant the same variety successively, or plant different varieties with differing maturity times.
They can be temperamental, particularly if planted out of season, so once you find varieties that suit your area, keep to them.
Pick when the heads are tight and firm. You can cover the heads to keep them clean and minimise rain damage by folding over the large outside leaves and tying them together. Covering also prevents the sun yellowing the heads.
October 18: The Australian Plant Society meets at the Max Fry Hall Gorge Rd, Trevallyn at 7.30pm. Guest speaker for the evening is Mark Wapstra on ‘Tasmania’s grassland orchids: in desperate need of help”.
October 19: The Launceston Horticultural Society meet at Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston 8pm.
October 20: The Launceston Orchid Society meets at the Newnham Uniting Church Hall, George Town Road, Launceston at 7pm.