Hartley Magazine

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Nana’s Tomatoes

I’ve been visiting my nana’s house, which contains the greenhouse of my youth. My granddad always kept up the greenhouse, which was very much an all-tomato affair. I don’t recall seeing another plant in there, perhaps the odd chrysanthemum, on its way to be lined out in the garden, for cutting. All good old-school stuff.

My granddad died a few years ago and I took nana a few tomato plants the following spring, thinking that she would appreciate the help to keep the greenhouse going, a sort of nice gesture to remember granddad. I turned up to find she was way ahead of me, all of hers planted out already in big pots on the greenhouse shelving. In fact I ended up taking a couple of plants home myself. And this week she showed me up again. Her tomatoes are way ahead of mine this year, the whole greenhouse full to bursting with big tomato plants covered in green fruits.

It seems to be something the older generation does particularly well, tomatoes. Maybe because they aren’t mucking about with chillis and aubergines, or at least my nana isn’t. So, here’s how nana does it: she sticks to ‘Moneymaker’, she plants out early, she has a good sunny greenhouse, she waters every day and feeds once a week. Nothing very revolutionary there, I think it is just about putting in the time.

The lovely thing about visiting at this time of year was seeing my own kids, and my cousins’ kids, in that green leafy light of that same greenhouse, admiring the jungly foliage, touching the plants and getting the green stain and smell on their fingers. Just like my cousins and I used to do. That smell will remind them of my nana just like it reminds me of my granddad.