Sunday, 9 October 2011

Life on Pig Row - Tomatoes

George Clooney once appeared in a film called 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes' he had a big role in it, it was a bad film, so bad it is still funny but this year tomatoes have not been a laughing matter. 





At Pig Row we started off with a cool spring, wet and windy that gave way to a hot May and then a dismal summer. We have been under a cloud for most of the summer and though this cloud has broken for a few days at a time the summer has never really got started. Then last week we had summer, a week of glorious heat that ripened the remaining tomatoes in under five days. We now have glut of tomatoes, this is no bad thing but when I write 'glut' I don't mean the kind of glut that we've had in past years. As gluts go it is humble but would still get a hamster excited. They are all now sat in our kitchen battling with dust from the building work I am doing. The tomatoes are destined for sauces and the freezer. 


I have a sad admission to make, I have never been that keen on tomatoes from the vine. I prefer mine cooked, I love fresh tomatoes in sauces, I do like a tomato in a salad but find them difficult on a sandwich if they are not sliced thin. I think it is the unpredictability of tomatoes, the fear of biting into one and being sprayed with juice. I have been the victim of many a sandwich with tomato in it and people sat by me have been a victim of me eating them. The tomato does not discriminate who its spray will hit and stain. My eating of tomatoes has ruined my sister's favourite shirt, my greatest pair of trousers, my wife's skirt and Little D's t-shirt (I blamed the stain on him. He can't speak and by the time he can I'll buy him off with bananas). I once hit a cat at fifteen paces with a cherry tomato, it never walked straight again. Don't get me wrong, I love the taste of tomatoes, I love the smell of a glasshouse full of them. The tomato reminds me of my dad, it reminds me of his old greenhouse on the allotment he had for a few years (when keeping an allotment was deeply unfashionable). I will always associate that smell with my Dad and that is why I grow them. It links me to my Father. Still, come near me with a tomato and chicken sandwich, I will run away screaming if I'm wearing a white shirt. George Clooney wore a white shirt in 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes' and remained immaculate throughout but he's a star, I'm just a humble gardener and prone to stains.