Tomato: Banana Legs Solanum lycopersicum Approx. 250-300 seed per gram Tomatoes are pretty amazing things. They are easy to grow, as well as being great to eat. Tomatoes are sub-divided into many varieties: suitable for growing inside, suitable for growing outside, those that grow tall (indeterminate), bush types (determinate). And then there are the different sizes: cherry, cocktail, salad, beefsteak and plum. There are also many different colours: red, orange, yellow, black, green and stripy. There is nothing like picking a sun-warmed fresh tomato!
Banana Legs is an heirloom, determinate variety which produces very high yields of 10 cm long, cylindrical yellow fruits.
How to grow: Plant seeds in trays or modules of good organic compost between January and March at a temperature of 18-21 degrees C. Seed can also be planted in March and April – putting the trays on a sunny windowsill – if you do not have a propagator for earlier sowings. Pot up into 8cm pots when the first few true leaves appear and the plants are approximately 8cm tall. Use a good quality organic potting compost with good nutrient levels and grow on at 10 degrees C. The plants grow rapidly and need the nitrogen particularly to stay green and healthy. If you are growing in pots keep potting up the plants until you get to the largest size you have. Plant out in growbags, inside borders, or outside borders – depending on the variety, in April and May. Tomatoes are not frost hardy. Feed with an organic liquid feed when the first trusses of Tomatoes form and keep feeding and watering as required. Try to keep the watering consistent and try not to let the plants dry out. Support tall growing varieties with strings or canes and pinch out the side shoots that grow from the base of the leaf joint, but not the flower stems! Once the plants have set 3 or 4 trusses of fruit you can pinch out the growing tip of the plant. Remove older, yellowing leaves from the base of the plant and this will improve light and air flow to the lower trusses of fruit. Harvest your tomatoes when ripe from June until October. Pests and diseases: Tomatoes can be affected by whitefly, aphids, red spider mite and also potato blight. For greenhouse pests use a biological control if required. Blight shows as brown patches on the leaves and it can spread to the fruit. Remove affected leaves and be careful not to transmit it from the potato patch to the greenhouse on muddy boots. How to cook: Tomatoes make wonderful salads. They can be mixed Italian style with basil, rocket and balsamic vinegar. They go well with cucumber, onions and olives in a greek salad. They are also integral in salsa with coriander and garlic. They also cook fantastically well making sauce for pizza and pasta. We also love tomatoes in ratatouille, mixed with cheese and basil in tarts, in soup, chutney, you can even make your own tomato ketchup. The possibilities are almost endless! Tomatoes also freeze very well if blended into passata or puree.
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