Companion Planting Gardens Ablaze

A Gardening Blether
Monthly Column by Patrick Vickery
January, 2002


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A Tomato Blether

Tomato growing is an occupation fraught with conversational danger. Just inadvertently mention your under-sized spindly tomato plants to a tomato enthusiast (and there's thousands of tomato enthusiasts out there) and you could be stuck for hours listening politely to every conceivable way of nurturing these smelly plants. And such strange names too: Big Boy, Supersonic, Tiny Tim, Outdoor Girl, Money-maker...the list goes on and on.

Apparently Bull's Dung is an excellent medium for growing tomatoes. Something to do with the testosterone content.  It brings on the 'Toms' a treat.  Good grief, what a thought, but undoubtedly an excellent conversation stopper should you ever need one. And then there's the tomato-ripening properties of the humble banana.  Bananas give off a barely detectable gas, you see, very subtle and undetectable to the human nose, a gas that aids tomato ripening. Put the green ones in the kitchen drawer, on newspaper, and add a banana. That should do the trick. So there you are, another conversation stopper.

Now let me tell you this. I could win prizes for my tomatoes if I wanted to.  How?  Because I know how to grow the best tomatoes in Scotland, juicy, red and tasty, and probably the best in the country.  But I don't grow the best in the country. Why not?  Well read on, for here comes the ultimate 'conversation stopper' as far as tomatoes go.  


Many years ago my Grand-Parents employed the services of a part-time gardener to help out in the garden.  A man called Tom.  He was very good at his job and particularly renowned throughout the district for his tomatoes. A tomato grower par excellence. Champion tomatoes they were. Tomatoes with exceedingly good flavour. But strangely enough the plants themselves were quite spindly, quite poor-looking, and not really the sort of specimens you would expect to bear good fruit, though the end product was truly magnificent.  Whenever there was a family gathering Tom's tomatoes were always on the menu, always discussed. "Tasty Tomatoes, these...lovely flavour...prize winning fruits...splendid texture...wonderful colour..." and so on.  And that's the reason why we called him 'Tom' when his real name was actually John.   Just recently, and from a very reliable source, I discovered that Tom had a secret ingredient for growing his tomatoes and, to be perfectly frank, it put me off tomatoes for life.  Urine.  His special ingredient was urine. The house had a septic tank, you see, emptied once a year, and Tom held on to the top layer to use as a liquid feed for his tomato plants. He may even have given them a personal sprinkling himself on the odd occasion too.  So I could grow the best tomatoes in the country if I wanted to. I really could.  No doubt about that. And win prizes for them too.  But I don't fancy the idea, not now.  Do you?


(Copyright: Patrick Vickery)


A Tree Blether - February, 2002

A Hare Blether - March, 2002

A Surreal Blether - April, 2002

A Slug Blether - May, 2002

A Goat Blether - June, 2002

A Half-Man, Half-Garden Blether - July, 2002

A Blaze Blether - August, 2002

An Inanimate Object Blether - September, 2002

A Notable Quotable Blether - October, 2002

A Plant Blether - November, 2002

A Compost Blether - December, 2002

A Copper Beech Blether (or a chainsaw pruning!) - January, 2003

A Heron Blether - February, 2003

A Bergenia Blether - March, 2003

A Rose Blether - April, 2003

A Critter Blether - August, 2003

Blether Home


Patrick Vickery is a garden writer who lives in the Scottish Highlands.  He runs a small perennial plant nursery and has one book published to date: 'In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden' (Capall Bann Publishers. ISBN: 186163 1480), a 'How To' book about the propagation of hardy perennial plants in an environmentally friendly way, and how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways for both expert and gardening enthusiasts alike - at minimum cost and in an innovative and exciting way.  And - of course - how to sell the plants you grow (should you wish to) to raise money (not a fortune) for yourself or a particular charity or cause. 


Patrick is married with three children, lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world, uses a raised bed system of propagation and has two dogs, a cat and two goats. His second book - 'Gardening Tales - Blethers and Grunts' - a collection of anecdotal tales concentrating on the more humourous side of gardening (particularly the things that go wrong!) has recently been completed.


Patrick's book can be bought from an absolutely fascinating website full of gardening, herbal, mystical, and magical books that one would never find anywhere else.  The address is

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