Glut Reactions (Melanie)

Whenever I am asked about my plans for dealing with a glut of produce from my allotment, my initial response is usually, “Chance would be a fine thing!”

I’m still on the lower slopes of allotmenteering, constantly marvelling at the (seemingly) effortless heights achieved by my neighbours.

Storm Ellen did her best to scupper my chances of a substantial tomato haul, but thanks to a tendency I have to cram things close together in the ground – I can’t get over how much space I have! –  the plants and their stakes more or less held each other up. In spite of many hours agonising over the seed catalogues and subsequent cossetting of seedlings, I have to report that the finest and most prolific tomato crop on my patch this year comes from the gift of a neighbour.  In the early days of lockdown she realised that she wouldn’t be able to get any seedlings from garden centres in time so she simply dried the seeds from some piccolino tomatoes she had bought at the supermarket and planted them.

Amazing results!  She shared out dozens of seedings with nearby allotments, and now I am in the happy position of trying to decide what I should do to preserve this abundant harvest.

Last year, caught out with no plan for the cherry tomatoes on the eve of a holiday, I turned to Google for help.  A combination of the words, “tomato”, “glut”, “preserve” and “easy” produced a range of solutions (literally) involving vodka.

All I had to do was pierce the tomatoes, pop them into a sterilised glass jar, add the celery salt and chillies that I didn’t have (but that doesn’t seem to have been a problem), cover with vodka and store the jar in the fridge.  I was assured that the residual vodka would be the perfect base for a Bloody Mary, and that the tomatoes would form an impressive element of any tray of canapés.  Do they ever get that far?  Do they heck!  With admirable restraint, I have enjoyed the odd tomato or two straight from the jar over many months.

As holidays are more or less out of the question in 2020, I will have some more time to think about what to do with my expected glut of tomatoes and be on hand at the right time to deal with them.  I wondered what suggestions CABAHS members might have:  what is your favourite way to preserve tomatoes?

Perhaps we can start a separate section, sharing ideas for making the most of our produce.

Artistic Licence (Vija)

From time to time I suffer a degree of frustration when watching films which include shots of gardens or cultivation of some sort. I remember an adaptation of one of E. M. Forster’s novels which included a scene of a cottage with flowering wisteria climbing over the house and tulips and roses in the herbaceous borders. I’m not sure quite what kind of climactic freak would have forced all of these to be flowering at the same time.

In the Martian, Matt Damon cultivates potatoes in order to survive. But images of the potato plants showed thin spindly stems topped by a little  green growth. I don’t know of a potato that grows in such a thin layer of soil and which produces growth like this and crops well!  I’m not convinced that this is possible. OK perhaps I am being a little too literal here and should suspend disbelief for a while – after all it is only a film!


When I visited Giverny some years ago in a wet May, I noticed that the wisteria on the bridge was blooming beautifully. When I took a closer look, I discovered that the blooms were silk!  I queried this with one of the gardeners and he told me that a studio was filming in the garden and this was what they had specified. Film studios spend a great deal of time, money and effort into creating interiors, costumes and the like which are authentic. A whole industry has been built up around ensuring the integrity of films. But when it comes to gardens there seems to be a lapse which takes place. Of interest or knowledge I am not sure. I wonder if there is an opening for a garden consultant somewhere?