Gaffer and the Tomberries

This became a day of forage and incidental harvesting. And all the more fun for it.

Initially I was intending to get to burning the dried out (I hoped!) potato haulms. Friday is the one day each week that we are allowed to have bonfires on site – and, haven’t you guessed it already, it nearly always seems to rain on Fridays!

But this Friday was clear.  So the fire was duly lit. In a newly commandeered oil drum, freshly holed for the purpose.

Then a few rows of digging: the start of the long preparation for over-wintering and the clearing of space for blackcurrant cuttings, over-wintering onions and broad bean sowings.

And a general inspection. The hedgerow looks spectacular: Laid four years ago from a twenty plus feet tall hawthorn and elder mix I took it down to five feet. It has now fully filled out the spaces and grows lustily. Hazel whips planted to plug gaps are established, showing big soft blousy leaves. The hollies, a single oak, a mock orange, dogwoods and a laburnum are also maturing well. But this week the rose hips and blackberries are the real stars. They are crowded with fruit, looking gorgeous and dark.

DSC01558So I eagerly picked two punnets (ex-ice cream tubs in fact) when I spotted the raspberries. Though we planted two new rows of autumn fruiting raspberries we still have not managed to get out all of the original ones and, a little sloppily/ a little like a true eccentric I left some to grow on (hadn’t the heart to rip ’em up perhaps) and they have beautiful big globes of fruit nestled under yellowing leaves, almost hidden, so that, when you have picked all you can see there are inevitably some you missed. But I love raspberries. So another punnet into action.

While picking these I noticed the tomberries, planted in the spaces in the pumpkin raised beds. They were given to us as young plants by Gaffer. Now Gaffer can grow almost anything and always has good advice to dispense on most matters allotment. He is more than happy to share the seedlings that he germinates so successfully every year. But he could not remember exactly what kind of tomatoes these were.

(We already had some tomatoes at home: Tumblers in hanging baskets, Gardener’s Delight in pots on the patio, Moneymaker in the greenhouse. But we also had some space and Gaffer was almost sure they were outdoor tomatoes; just not sure what sort.)

Turns out they’re tomberries. Very tiny: imagine a small grape or a large blackcurrant; but very, very tasty as well and -apparently – very trendy.   And they have grown splendidly, perhaps thriving on the neglect and competition with the mammoth leaved squashes and the annual weeds that benefitted from the regular watering that has produced decent sized pumpkins.And to pick the tiny bundles of sunshine?  I just scissored off each of the trusses.

Heading back to the car with runner beans, a couple of sweet corn cobs, enough yellow plums for a pudding  and the berries Alan and Mrs Alan asked if I wanted some potatoes. What could I say? Had to be yes didn’t it?

Seems they were digging up their self-sets: marvellously big potatoes considering. Picasso, big enough for bakers!

So autumn is coming and it feels like it with shortening hours of daylight, but the produce and sharing continue.

Only on allotments eh?



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