Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘growing tomatoes’

Polytunnel Pineapples, Tomatoes, Basil & Shallots

A few years ago while on holiday in Cornwall we visited the lost gardens of Heligan. It’s a beautiful garden and the background of how it was rescued from decay and ruin is an excellent read. If you search for lost gardens of heligan on Amazon you can find the book and DVDs. One of the most interesting things at Heligan is the Pineapple Pit. It is heated by horse manure and designed specifically for growing Pineapples, a prized rare plant in Victorian times. You can read more about the Heligan Pineapple Pit on their blog post The story of the £10,000 Pineapple

We don’t have a pineapple pit at Hooters Hall but we do have our hot beds now so I’ve decided to have a go propagating some pineapple tops. This is going to be a long term project. Once a Pineapple top has successfully rooted it will take 2 years before it flowers.

I bought my pineapples from the supermarket. There are lots of You Tube videos and written information online about propagating pineapples. Basically you need to slice off the top then strip the leaves off the bottom inch or so. As you strip the stalk you can see little brown tendrils which will become the roots.

Some of the information online advises rooting your pineapple stalk in water but I’ve planted mine in a pot with some free draining compost. I’ve buried the pots in the hot bed so now we just need to wait and see if they root. Here are some pictures of the process.

Less exotic than the pineapples I also got my tomato, basil and shallot seeds planted this weekend. I’ve got a few varieties of Tomato including a dwarf windowsill variety Tiny Tim, Brandywine, Black Russian and some early varieties from Europe.

The Basil I’m growing this year is a British variety which I haven’t tried before. It’s supposed to be better suited to our climate more tolerant of the British Summer weather. This year I am determined to do several sowings of Basil and get better at using it in preserving / making pesto . I did quite well with my tomatoes last year and we’re still enjoying dehydrated, frozen tomatoes and green tomato chutney.

The heated propagator is still full of my Sweet Peppers so I put the seed trays with the tomatoes and basil in the hot bed with the pineapples. I also planted some Shallot seeds. It’s the first time I’ve grown Shallots. I’ve got some in seed trays and a row of them in the raised bed in the polytunnel.

Here are all my seed trays tucked up, nice and cosy in the hot bed.


Ripening tomatoes & exciting cranberry news

After a long, difficult day at work and the joys of the underground in summer I was suffering from the Monday blues. Until I had went out to check on the crops and discovered the first of my tomatoes are ripening, the peas are filling out, we’ve got loads of red currants and most exciting of all the cranberry plant has developed some berries! Here’s some pics. (I admit the cranberry berries are a bit difficult to see but I promise they are there.


If you’re new to growing your own fruit and veg tomatoes are a great place to start. I start mine off inside on the windowsill around the middle of March using a pretty basic plastic propagator. Initially they’ll need warmth to germinate then make sure they have plenty of light so that they don’t go too long and straggly. Don’t be afraid to move them around the house if no room meets all their requirements. Our spare bedroom is nice and warm for starting germination but being North facing has quite poor light so as soon as seedlings appear I move them to the study which is cooler but South facing so has better light. Don’t forget to water them as well.

Once the seedlings are big enough to pot on, and if the weather is warming up, you can gradually move them outside, perhaps initially using a greenhouse or cold frame. If you want to guard against the dreaded blight it’s best to keep them in a protected environment like a greenhouse or cold frame as blight is air born. Don’t be too worried about this though. I’ve always ended up with too many tomatoes to keep in the greenhouse and cold frame and (touch wood) I’ve yet to suffer blight. I keep my tomatoes on a North east-ish facing patio and they do just fine.

One of the most reliable croppers and easiest to grow inside or outside is Gardener’s delight but this year I’ve decided to experiment with a variety of tomatoes including:

  • Red robin which is a minature bush variety only growing 30cm and able to set fruit even in low light conditions, so ideal for indoor growing.
  • Purple Calabash a dark,almost black tomato with a honey taste. Apparently thrives in less fertile soils and partial shade,
  • Beefsteak a large bush variety good for slicing and stuffing.

Here’s a pic of my baby tomatoes Beefsteak on the left, Purple Calabash in the centre and the little Red Robin on the right.

I get my seeds from The Organic Gardening catalogue. Mainly because I’m a member of Garden Organic which means I get 10%off !

Garden Organic is an organic growing charity which does excellent work in education, seed conservation, international development and scientific evaluation of organic gardening practices. They are also a great source of information for anyone new to gardening or interested in going down the organic route.

This is the link to Garden Organic www.gardenorganic.org.uk

And this is the link to their catalogue www.OrganicCatalogue.com