Friday, 11 July 2014


Once big enough to leave the shed, the tomatoes
and cape gooseberries were moved out to a cold frame in the front garden,
where the dogs can't access them.

Shop bought tomatoes never taste as good as home grown ones bursting with flavour. If you don't want to buy a whole packet of seeds which you probably won't use,  for the same amount of money you can buy just one or two seedlings ready to pot on. This will also mean you don't also end up with a huge glut of fruits, but just the amount you can use - although if you do go a bit mad and grow lots of plants, friends may be glad to have any which are surplus to requirements, and you can of course bottle and preserve and make sauces to put in the freezer.
But you must make sure that tomato plants are kept safely out of the way of your dogs as they are not good for them to nibble on. It belongs to the nightshade family Solanaceae, so be respectful! Although the ripe, red fruits are relatively safe, green tomatoes, plus the leaves and vines are toxic.
Dogs do not always appreciate the importance of waiting for things to ripen: given the chance Angel will happily munch her way through as many unripened strawberries as she can snaffle rather than wait till they reach their luscious best - although she eats those too. So keep your tomato plants safely away from pets, so they can't be sampled: mine, plus a crop of cape gooseberries are being grown in the front garden which the dogs don't have free acess to.
Remember that there are other plants too which although humans can safely consume them, are toxic to dogs - including grapes, onions and avocados. As you don't want your dog snacking on something which may be bad for him (or assisting your gardening by 'watering' plants for you either) fruit and veg are probably best grown in areas where your dog is not allowed - if it is a spot within the garden, make sure it is very securely fenced off - or on an allotment.
Allotments are in great demand, and in many areas there is a waiting list - but the sooner you get your name down for one, the sooner you'll get one!

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