The first seeds of the year are tucked up in a warm light room in the house. We went for Tigerella tomatoes this year (a first for us) and Cayenne chillies which we’ve grown before and love. Tigerella tomatoes have striped skin hence their name and I’m particularly looking forward to using them in salads to add interest and colour. I have a thing for pretty salads, adding vibrant colours using edible flowers such as Viola. We’ve heard mixed reviews on the taste of Tigerella, some saying they’re bland but I guess we’ll judge that for ourselves. I have my eye on another variety of tomato called Black Krim, Seed Parade tempted me when I saw a photo of the fruits on their Facebook page. I might try Black Krim this year, if not then it’s going on my ever-growing list of things to try.
Rich is the chilli fan and head chef of our family, cooking with chillies regularly so we decided to grow as many plants as we have space for to save buying them so often. We went for Cayenne because they’re meant to be quicker to germinate than other chilli varieties (some taking up to a month or longer). Cayenne have the heat that Rich likes too, so it was an easy choice really.
Are you growing tomatoes or chillies this year?
I started sowing tomatoes in February (earlier than I usually do) and more again in March. I’m growing Alicia Craig and cherry variety Gardener’s Delight, thanks to the continuous beautiful weather my urge to sow tomatoes in February paid off – the plants have their first flowers and a couple of small fruits. At the moment they are inside the greenhouse with the door open during the day to allow for pollinating insects to do their bit. The March plants are smaller but really coming along well, they need potting on again so I shall crack on with that over the weekend. I will probably grow a few plants outdoors too but they won’t go outside until the risk of frost is over.
I use deep modules to sow tomato seeds, a warm sunny windowsill normally works well for germination. I transplant each seedling into a small pot once the first set of true leaves appear, then I grow them on in a warm spot until they need potting on again into larger pots. When potting on tomato seedlings I plant deeper than they were previously, I find this encourages a better root system which helps with watering during the summer months and generally a stronger plant all round.
Due to a combination of unseasonably warm weather and sowing tomatoes early, I just might be eating home-grown tomatoes earlier than usual this year. Fingers crossed!