Josine Atsma takes a look at seasonal September fruit and veg in Scotland, focusing on tomatoes with a great recipe for tomato sauce.
Oh the joy of growing tomatoes!
In my opinion, tomatoes are one of the most satisfying vegetables (fruits!) to grow. You start with a tiny seed in April. Pot them on in May and once more to their final position in June. Then you just let them grow like mad. They need a little TLC, but the rewards are huge.
These are warm weather plants, so they have to be indoors at all stages of their lives; if you live in Scotland, that is. Down south, south of Birmingham I would say, you might be able to grow them outdoors in a sheltered, sunny spot. If you live south, make sure the seed packet says you can grow them outside.
Start misting the flowers every other day or so, once the first flowers have opened. Most tomatoes self-pollinate and the misting helps with this. It also helps to start feeding the plants with tomato fertilizer at this point as it will help the formation of flowers and fruit.
Then all we need is warm weather to get them to ripen on the vine. But don’t worry if we don’t get a warm summer (which is very likely), because you can either pick the unripe tomatoes, wrap them in a tea towel and leave in a warm cupboard for some days or make them into green tomato chutney. To make the tea towel trick work, they have to be ever so slightly red, totally green ones normally won’t ripen off the vine.
There are two different types of tomatoes: cordon and bush tomatoes. Cordon tomatoes grow tall and need support, whereas the bush tomatoes, as the name suggests, grow in a bush. If you’ve got a large windowsill, you might be able to grow the smaller bush tomatoes, like ‘Micro Tom’ or ‘Red Robin’.
You can even get tomatoes which you can grow in hanging baskets, like ‘Tumbling Tom’.
Home grown tomatoes taste a whole lot better than shop bought ones. And just knowing it all started with one seed is in my eyes just magic!
Fresh September fruit and veg include:
Courgettes, all types of lettuces, chard, potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, runner beans, french beans, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, small white swedes (or turnips as they are known in England), pumpkins, squashes, radishes, apples, pears, (wild) raspberries, plums, blueberries and bilberries (blaeberries).
September fruit and veg recipe
Because of the glut with tomatoes, I normally make chutneys to keep and soups and sauces to freeze. It feels really nice to have a pizza or pasta in the middle of winter with homemade tomato sauce.
1kg tomatoes, quartered
2 medium onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2tbsp Olive oil
a combination of fresh herbs like: oregano, rosemary, basil, sage
Chilli flakes if you like it spicy
Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Fry the onions for around 2 minutes, add the garlic and fry for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let it gently boil for around 30 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and chilli flakes. Boil for another 10-20 minutes or until you have reached the thickness you like your tomato sauce to be.
Either use it straightaway for your favourite pasta or pizza dish or let it completely cool down and freeze for later use.
By the way…
I have lots more tasty, seasonal, plant-based recipes available on my website. Please follow this link to take a look. I hope you like them!