17 March 2017

17 March 2017

how to save tomato seeds and prune a plum tree

Saving tomato seeds

  • When you save seed from your best-performing plants grown in your own cultural conditions, you gradually develop varieties that are better adapted to your soil, climate and growing practices. By carefully observing your plants, you can save seed from the ones that best meet your needs for germination, ripening time, yield, flavour, storage qualities, disease resistance and so on.
  • We ferment tomato seeds when saving them because the yeast removes diseases like blight that could affect the next crop.
  • Choose your best and ripest tomatoes, slice them open and scrape as many seeds as possible into a glass jar.
  • Cherry tomatoes are full of seeds, the large meaty ones have more flesh and less seeds.
  • Rob gathers around 100 seeds from two big Beefsteak tomatoes. He’ll probably lose 20 per cent of that when he scrapes off the fermented top, but 80 seeds is more than you’ll personally need.
  • Now add water to the seeds in the jar.
  • Don’t put the lid of the jar back on because gases will form inside and need to escape. Instead, place a piece of tinfoil, to allow air in, loosely over the jar.
  • Leave the jar in a warm spot for 3-4 days.
  • When you have a nice smelly layer of fermentation in the jar, it’s time for the next stage.
  • Carefully spoon off the fermented layer. Pour remaining matter into a sieve and wash gently. The pulp should all wash away.
  • Lay out one sheet of kitchen towel. If you like, you can spoon the seeds into 3 lines on the paper – this way, next spring, you simply lay the paper and seeds onto a soil-filled seed tray and not have to handle the seeds again before germination.
  • Leave the seeds to dry for about a week in a place that’s out of the full sun.
  • Once dry, label the piece of paper, fold up and put in a zip lock bag and label the bag, and pop in the fridge.
  • These seeds will last up to 5 years.

Pruning a plum tree

  • We prune plum trees
    – to get rid of lower branches that get in the way of mowing or accessing the tree,
    – to get rid of inward-growing branches to allow good air circulation to ward off diseases, and
    – for height, as we don’t want trees to grow so high we can’t pick the fruit.
  • Prune your plum tree every year for the first three years. After that you only need to prune it every second or third year.
  • If you’ve got a few trees to prune it’s worth investing in some good quality equipment. You’ll need a medium- and a large-sized pair of loppers, a pair of secateurs, a pruning saw and methylated spirits for sterilising.
  • Dip loppers in methylated spirits for a few seconds, then start at the bottom of the tree, taking out any branches and growth that aren’t necessary.
  • Then take out any branches that are growing into the middle of the tree. The idea is to keep the inside of the tree clear for air to circulate.
  • Learn to recognise a fruiting spur which grows on the main leaders. They’re important because they produce the fruit for the next year. Take out water shoots which clearly aren’t going to produce fruit..
  • Once the large branches are gone, use secateurs to clean up the rest of the tree.
  • Cut back to around 30 cms any excessive leafy growth. That will re-direct energy back into the tree and encourage the production of more fruiting spurs.
  • You’ll probably need a ladder to tidy up the top branches.
  • Rob creates 5 main leaders into which the tree can now concentrate its energy. The leaders are so strong now that they won’t bow under the weight of their crop.

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes