Lambley Gardens & Nursery, 395 Lesters Road,  Ascot,  Victoria 3364
Phone +61 (03) 5343 4303,  Fax +61 (03) 5343 4257

Is there such a think as a bad year for tomatoes?

I’ve written before about the many diseases that afflict tomatoes and the need to grow varieties which have high resistance to the major tomato diseases. Most if not all “heirloom” tomatoes have very little disease resistance and it must also be said most if not all seedlings sold by the big box stores and garden centres also have very poor disease resistance.

Seedling growers who supply the big box stores and the garden centres are under enormous pressure to sell their plants at the cheapest possible prices so they can’t afford to buy top quality seed.

Let’s take Roma tomatoes as an example. You can buy 1000 open pollinated generic Roma tomato seed for $3. The best, most productive, disease resistant and flavoursome varieties, Katya F1 and Sheena F1 for example, grown by commercial tomato growers costs 35 times more. Why would hard-nosed commercial growers, who have to work incredibly hard to survive in the cut-throat world of vegetable production, pay a premium for Katya and Sheena seed when they could buy generic Roma seed for a fraction of the price?

If you visit the nursery and inspect our tomato trials over the next 4 weeks or so you’ll see why.

It’s not always the seed quality which causes problems for the home vegetable grower. Planting into the same part of the garden two years in a row is not a good policy. Saving tomato seed will be a problem unless the tomato pulp and seed is fermented. Merely drying the seed on paper is asking for trouble as the seed itself can carry several diseases.

Since I stopped growing “heirloom” tomato varieties in the garden and planted modern F1 hybrids instead I’ve had bumper crops.


Green Bean Stew

My Romas are ripening now and it’s time to make passata. I’ve still got a few bottles left from last year and am making green bean stew with passata as one of the ingredients. This stew is made in variously guises from Italy to Turkey. This is my take on it.

Ingredients Two medium to large onions chopped fairly small

One bottle of passata

One cup of extra virgin olive oil (less if you like)

One kilo or so of green beans topped

One bunch of parsley chopped reasonably finely

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pour the olive oil into a saucepan which will fit all the ingredients with the onions.

Melt the onions on a low heat turning regularly

When melted add the bottle of passata and the same volume of water. (My passata bottles hold about ¾ of a litre.)

Add the washed topped beans (I don’t tail them)

Add the parsley

Add a teaspoon of salt to taste and a good teaspoon of pepper

Bring to a boil and the simmer on low heat until the beans a soft but not disintergrating.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.