Posted by: hencorner | June 22, 2015

Talking Tomatoes…

Roasted TomatoesThe taste of any simple tomato-based salad is dependent on the quality of the tomatoes.’*
*Yotam Ottolenghi
So true, Yotam, so true, and as our last post was all about strawberries, this time we’re talking tomatoes!
These small sweet marbles must have been the first fruits that I began to grow ten years ago; I remember plucking them from the vine, squashing them with a basil leaf into a chunk of homemade bread, drizzling it with olive oil and eating it in the sunshine. I felt like Elizabeth David reincarnated, if you don’t know who she is – look her up, slow roasting them with garlic in olive oil, ready to stir through some freshly made pasta – delicious!
imageMy relationship with tomatoes hasn’t always been full of sun kissed promise, sadly, I’ve fallen victim to blight, several years in a row now and have learnt that it’s best to harvest all at the first sight of the brown fungal-like infection creeping up the plant stems. Green Tomato Chutney is a favourite here, so nothing goes to waste. Another lesson that I’ve learnt is to be careful with the watering, apparently, if there is less surface water, as from a watering can, then the roots have to reach down low to a more consistent source of moisture. I’ll never forget the summer holiday that we took, confident that the crops would thrive in the kitchen garden as I had my water sprinkler set to timer, only to return to large swollen split tomatoes that were rotting on the vine. This year, I turn to experts for help.
James Wong & Sara WardLast week, I was pleased to join a lecture at Kew Gardens given by James Wong based on his latest book, Grow for Flavour. I had heard James present Incredible Edibles with his book Homegrown Revolution a few years ago at the Edible Garden Show and was looking forward to his lively engaging talk that would captivate the audience as he dispelled myths and encouraged us to be daring as we grow our own food with flavours that will knock the socks off any supermarket specials. James took us on a journey through our desire for sweetness and sentimentality for heirloom varieties and explained how his top tips for tomatoes could deliver on the promises that we crave. Spritzing young plants with soluble aspirin, slicing their tops off after just one truss of fruit and turning the tap off to farm them dry were just some of James’ suggestions for the biggest, sweetest, fruits from your plot.
I shall read up on and try these techniques over the coming weeks, but back to the book and the pages on Persimmons, the tropical fruit that is hardy enough for our cold British climate, have really caught my eye and I’ve put my name down to buy a tree as soon as they are available in the autumn.
Perfect pastaComing up at the Corner…

It would be a pleasure to welcome you to one of our courses that we have running right throughout the year.

The next few weeks brings Full Day Bee Keeping,  Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London and some new courses, Perfect Pasta and Scones and Jam

Alternatively, we would love to plan a private event for you and your friends, or a team meeting for your work colleagues.

Do contact us for more information.

Other News:image

  • At last I managed to spend some time getting to grips with Macarons, OK, so they are not all the same shape and size – but they tasted pretty good!
  • We were very pleased to host the leadership team of national charity, Cinnamon Network, for their strategy day. After their meetings I taught them how to make Cinnamon Swirls and after lunch we tried a spot of bee keeping…
  • St Paul’s School brought their Year 6 students over to study the bees, we do love our work with schools

Jobs for this week:

  • I need to make a cage of some sort to protect our almonds from the squirrels, I haven’t quite worked out the design yet…
  • Plan September’s Urban Food Fortnight with the London Kitchen Project, maybe add in another new Battersea Cooking Class
  • Start sewing some sails to bring a little shade onto our conservatory, it gets pretty hot in there on a sunny day

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!



  1. Delicious tomatoes! I could think of nothing better than a slow roasted tomato and you’ve made me want to dig out my Elizabeth David books again!!

    • Mmm, nothing beats a good summery tomato…

  2. I absolutely adore tomatoes – and your post had my mouth watering. Your description of squashing them with a basil leaf and drizzling with olive oil – sublime. Love the idea of slow roasting with garlic too. Yum. You are inspiring me to try and grow… although I think I may kill them. I killed my strawberries.

    • If it’s any consolation, Jules, I killed a whole bed of brand new strawberry plants this year!
      I planted a lovely long row alongside a lavender hedge which sapped it of all water and shaded it from all sunshine…. It’s the local Pick Your Own farm for strawberries this year!

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