Tomatoes before Christmas #blogvember

There is a story in Canberra about how you can, if you are boxing clever, sow seed and eat tomatoes before Christmas. About three people a year manage it. In a town where there is frost until November, often, and this year in particular, there was a frost in October where the temperature plummeted to minus 3.9, it is a challenge to get tomatoes into the ground and ripening fruit by December 25.

Lest you think that I am a wizened up old Italian market gardener, gone to pasture in the nation’s capital, I can assure you that this is sport, it has rules and it is a deeply blood thirsty and dirty game. There are endless blog posts about raising tomato seed to seedling stage and then protecting the seedlings until the danger of frost has passed, with the resultant fruit ready to pick for Christmas Day. The problem is, here on the southern tablelands, the growing season is insanely short. The window you have to grow, and ripen tomatoes, which are a tropical fruit, is so short, you have to take short cuts, or risk not having any red and delicious tomatoes at all.
You must choose varieties that have a short ripening time, anything labelled ‘early’ is good. You have to choose your variety wisely and grow your own seedlings, you must erect shelters of hessian, and cow manure features frequently. You must, if you are a true champion, grow the plants from seed you collected yourself, and get a ripe tomato to the table before Christmas Day.

Protective hessian in place

Can I say to all this, fortune favours the brave! I planted these babies in October. They survived the minus 3.9 night and we are on our way. Now, to be fair, I didn’t grow any of them from seed, I bought them from local growers who are much better at raising seedlings than me, and who have all the equipment. However, I am on my way to delicious tomatoes, and that has to be a great reason to have broken all the rules.

Cherry toms in pots

Roma. Now complete with truss of fruit.