I just wanted to write a quick post to record a few of our gardening successes . . .and failures, this year.

Growing vegetables here has many challenges: the soil is waterlogged, acidic, and clay-ey; and this being west-central Scotland, the weather tends to be, more often than not, cold, wet and windy. Last Spring we built raised beds, improved the soil, and found we were able to successfully grow potatoes, spinach, kale, and various brassicas. We also built a new shed with windowed frontage which I hoped would mean I would be able to grow tomatoes more successfully. Sadly, last summer was even cooler and wetter than usual and my plants yielded not a single tomato. This year, my tomatoes have fruited, but I suspect they will (as in previous summers) remain at the stubbornly green stage, and merely add to our already large store of green tomato chutney from previous harvests.

So I have decided to give up on tomatoes and to focus my energies on what I can actually grow (without a heated greenhouse or a deluxe wind-proof polytunnel).

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Realistically, I think this means potatoes, leeks, onions, courgettes, and cucumbers (which do seem to grow successfully in my little pretend hot-house shed). We planted several types of broccoli again this year, but, some forestry culling nearby has meant that the deer have begun to join the rabbits and hares in encroaching on our garden, and enjoying the delights of our raised beds. These beasties are doing their level best to do away with our brassicas – next year much more extensive netting will be required.

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We have a small area of decking at the back of the house (on which Bruce is here depicted, imploring me to stop taking photographs and feed him) and in large pots here we’ve also been able to grow several things that the rabbits and hares made short shrift of last year: beetroot, chard, celeriac, and many, many courgettes.

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Because this area is so close to the house (and possibly also smells strongly of dogs and cats) the wild beasties don’t bother it.

So we’ve been eating lots of courgettes, and are looking forward to onions, tatties and leeks this autumn. And there are always the sweet peas, which I happily grow from seed each year, and love both outdoors and in.

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I am an inexpert and time-poor gardener, but I do enjoy raising and eating tasty home-grown vegetables. So any suggestions from Scottish gardeners for vegetable varieties which grow reliably in my sort of climate would be very gratefully received.

89 thoughts on “tomatoes no more

  1. I’m in coastal CA which has cool nights due to maritime influence. Here, all of these do well in cool climates and produce early, which should bode well for Scotland, assuming that they are available there by seed (if not, a really good US company is High Mowing Seed):

    Early Girl — surprisingly outstanding full-flavor smallish red, abundant producer, easily dry farmed too
    Stupice – same results as EG, but a Eastern European variety, not as abundant for me, not quite as relish
    Sungold cherry – super juicy and sweet/tart bright orange cherry, very abundant and will continue producing and ripening well past “tomato season” — here often until Nov, Dec, Jan — you basically decide when you want to kill it! Pick before they burst.
    Black cherry – not as abundant as Sungold, but incredibly rich tasting. Pick when they’re about 80% ripe and they’ll be ripe on your counter in 1-2 days — that’s what I do.
    Jaune Flamme – perhaps my favorite tomato of all time. Golf ball to ping pong ball sized bright orange, rich and delicious tomatoes.
    Black Trifele – a new one for me this year, but already has joined my favorites list. Incredibly rich and deep flavor, abundant, relatively early — like black cherry, I pick them at about 80% ripeness.

    Some of the best organic coastal tomato producers use “high tunnels” and a trolley system for some of their tomatoes, both to protect from birds and such, but also to intensify heat and maximize production. Here’s a pic from my favorite farm; they grow the best Sungolds that I’ve ever tasted:
    http://fifthcrowfarm.com/planting-new-acreage/

    There are many other good cold season varieties, many originating from Eastern Europe/Russia.

    Without meaning to discourage you, one other option is to pair up with someone in a slightly different “neighborhood” who has better success with tomatoes and get on a trading plan with them — courgettes, beets, greens, etc for tomatoes. That’s what many people do here with all of our microclimates. 5-30 mins away from me the temps and inland vs coastal influences can vary by a lot – 5-15 degrees F, and especially nighttime temps which is THE most important for tomatoes.

    Can’t wait to hear about your future experiments and exploits with tomatoes and gardening in general.

    And what…no knitted raised beds?! :-) I love that knitted fence that you shared with us!!!!!

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  2. Hi Kate

    We have tried and failed over the years to grow tomatoes and decided not to bother this year. Then we say some bush tomato plants in the Garden Centre and thought we would give them a bash. They are fruiting like there is no tomorrow and even ripening – hurray! we have two cherry tomato bushes – one red and one yellow, we like a bit of variety – and the third is just an ordinary tomato but still a bush variety. They are outside and have survived droughts, floods and high winds – in fact they have thrived on neglect.

    I will try and find the names for you if you want.

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  3. Gardens are wonderfully diverse and really quite bossy, aren’t they?!
    i have never managed to get annual sweet peas to grow in either of my Swiss gardens, the things that grow brilliantly in my garden are heucheras, perennial forget-me-nots, light and airy hydrangeas, paeonies… tulips often don’t bother coming up at all and never more than once. And with the cool spring the garden orchids made it to flower before the slugs woke up. yay!

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  4. Sorrel, rocket, mizuna, pak choi – grow these on the cut and come again principle. Broad beans. All delicious. All grow well in my Edinburgh garden so not WoS but worth a try. I like Lia Leendertz’s suggestion of growing things/varieties that are expensive and/or hard to find in the shops and are relatively easy to grow.

    I agree with previous commenters re growing the ‘oriental greens’ and using Joy Larkcom’s book on growing vegetables.

    Regarding tomatoes – definitely find the ones that have the shorter length of time to maturity e.g. 50 to 60 days rather than 100 days (cherry toms are good for this), because it’s the length of the days that make a difference and at our latitude we have a narrow space of time between it being warm enough and the amount of daylight hours being plentiful enough. Not all seed catalogues give this info but a dig around the web can sometimes turn it up. I grow toms outside (although I do start them off indoors) and protection from wind is often more an issue than sunlight, so I try to place them where there will be shelter via buildings or other plants. I wait for the first flower buds to appear before beginning the hardening off. If they are too slow to appear then a bit of brutal treatment – cutting back on the watering, a few hours outside in the cold – seems to prompt the plant a bit. Once outside, I ‘stop’ the plants after 3 or 4 flower branches (the sets), to give them enough time to put energy into maturing. I’ve had some successes with heritage varieties: the Real Seeds catalogue and also the Organic Gardening catalogue (part of the Henry Doubleday foundation) http://www.organiccatalogue.com/index.html

    This year I harvested my first gooseberries (bought some small container-grown plants to put in the ground last winter), which was very satisfying and pleasingly easy, and I’m growing salsify from seed: I don’t know how the salsify will get on, though the leaves look healthy enough.

    Oh, and the blackberries are lovely this year and grow wherever and whenever and I don’t put any effort into those at all! And the bees seem to like the flowers, which is always a good thing.

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  5. It was great to read this. I have moved to the west coast of Scotland this year and am trying my hand at gardening for the first time. I just find everything so slow! My leeks are still surviving, but just look like sturdy grass. I gave the beginnings of a successful cauliflower. I think, like you, it will be a journey of trial and error. Good luck.

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  6. We’ve had great success with beetroot (any variety), radishes, beans and peas – all in raised beds outside. They’re ‘no dig’ beds, with plenty of rabbit and chicken manure and green cuts added in, to be topped up next year. Cabbage also did well, but it’s largely grown for the animals (rather than ourselves). I assume you have a copy of Kenneth Cox’s ‘Fruit and Vegetables for Scotland’? Might be worth getting in touch with the Tap O’Noth folks up in Aberdeenshire, and the network of permaculturists/forest gardeners in the north…

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  7. Dear Katw

    Do not give up on tomatoes yet until you have tried al
    Siberian tomato from the real seed company ( link left above). You can start them off in February and just put in the ground or a pot, no picking out until they are big enough and by June here but probably August where
    You are you will have tomatoes, just feed and water. As I am m disabled I cannot ouch tomatoes daily but get an amazing crop from mine. Never say never.

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  8. And another idea would be to steal some growing time at the beginning of the season. Here our season is Apr/May-Oct/Nov, but not sure about yours. You could plant your starts inside near a sunny window or under grow lights or outside in a cold frame (would be easy for Tom to build and insert in your raised beds) — here that would be Jan/Feb. Then they could go in the ground a month or two earlier wrapped in these type of air blankets (here that would be Feb/Mar) — I’ve heard really good things about them giving gardeners a 2-3 month headstart on the growing season, thus having fruit ripen months earlier.
    This isn’t the only company that offers them:
    http://www.gardeners.com/buy/red-tomato-teepees/34-952.html#start=25

    Hope this helps!

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  9. I found a great recipe for a green tomato mincemeat in an old Canadian Living Fall Cookbook Special and another for a side dish where you slice the tomatoes and layer them in a dish with some onion, dot each layer with butter and add a sprinkle of flour and allspice and keep layering a few times and bake in the oven around 350 f ~ 30-40 mins. I go around begging people for their spare green tomatoes so I can make it.

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  10. Kate, some suggestions and a question:

    1) I’m in California, and I’ve experienced the end-of-the-season glut of green tomatoes, as you’ve described (especially when we’ve had cooler than normal summers). Have you tried tricking the plant into thinking it’s going to die so that it will concentrate all of it’s efforts on the remaining fruit (you may even want to consider doing this soon, while the remaining fruit still has time to ripen)? You can do this by removing all extraneous branches, leaves, blossoms and fruit that will never make it to ripe in time (i.e., young ones) all the way up to where the good fruit is (say the lower 2, 3 or 4′ of the plant, depending upon its height) and also cut off the tops of the vines down to where the fruit is and any extraneous branching and leaves on the interior of the plant. And also cut back on water (you can’t do this completely since they’re in containers, but if in-ground, then you could).

    2) Your wooden raised bed design is gorgeous! Is that Tom’s creation, or did he find plans on the internet somewhere? If they are his own, would he mind sharing?! Thanks!

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  11. I’ve also heard of using Mylar to concentrate reflective sunlight onto your tomato plants. I had also read a few articles that give you instructions to see if your green tomatoes are mature enough to ripen off of the vine. Depending on the type of tomato – some are stored in a box with enough air circulation around them, others on a sunny windowsill…

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  12. I’m in Yorkshire, not Scotland, and I can just about grow tomatoes outside in a good year, if I buy an early and hardy variety and grow them in pots, not in the ground. If your shed is sheltered and gets good light, and you’ve been buying the more widely-available seeds or plants, it could be worth giving it another go with a more specialist variety (obvious question, though: does your shed get enough insects in to pollinate the tomatoes?).

    I can recommend http://www.realseeds.co.uk/ for a wide range of interesting vegetable and herb seeds, with detailed advice about the location and growing season they’re suited for, including some tomatoes developed for locations with a really short growing season.

    That said, my tomatoes aren’t doing that well this year. We’ve had warm weather lately but Spring was quite cool and wet, and they haven’t really caught up. For once I have managed to prevent the slugs eating my courgette plants, though, and the first courgettes are starting to arrive.

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  13. Your raised garden beds are amazing. Needs to go on my to-do list for next year. Here in Austria we have no problems with growing tomatoes. Our problem more often is “who eats all of them” :D best of luck for the next season!

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  14. Do you know, it can be too hot to grow tomatoes too! When the temperature climbs and stays above 33C, the plants won’t set fruit. We had four tomatoes this year (which is three more than in previous years) from the one plant we leave space for in our tiny backyard plot. Four. I can only dream of sweet peas (such pretty flowers!) and potatoes (they would melt in our soil, alas). By October, I should be able to get some broccoli in. The Swiss Chard is still going, amazingly.

    Have you tried sprinkling hair among the veggies the bunnies and deer like to eat? Or spraying them with hot pepper oil? Not harmful to the environment, but it will keep them from munching on your produce for a while – longer, if you alternate them. Dried blood works too, but that’s a bit icky (especially if you are a vegetarian).

    Your back yard is lovely.

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  15. Knitters grow vegetables? I shouldn’t be surprised. I live in a climate challenging for tomatoes, cold and blighty, but we do well by getting them as much heat as we can – a pair of raised beds on the huge asphalt driveway that came w/ the house.. Yes, a greenhouse, unheated, where my husband likes to do his morning meditation in the winter and where raised beds (it’s a seasonal wetland) mean winter greens. We just lay the green tomatoes out in trays on racks, uncovered, where I can keep track because if they’ve got blight spores they’re toast, and sometime we have fresh tomatoes till almost Christmas. Ignore what people say about them not ripening if they’re too green. Even tiny green tomatoes will ripen, though that’s pretty esoteric. Slugs, snails and elk are our major predators. Opposite ends of the size spectrum, but both do a lot of damage. For the elk we have a system of towers w/ motion detectors, lights and radios. Ah, the trials and travails of growing your own food, but it’s magic, just like knitting.

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  16. Hi Kate, I live just south of Edinburgh. I lived in Norfolk previously and had so many tomatoes I couldn’t eat them all and had to turn them into chutney. Since moving back to Scotland – not one single ripe, edible tomato grown myself. I got round it this year by buying a fully-grown tomato plant from a garden centre and just ripened it off in a cold frame. Cheating, in other words!

    I successfully grow in Scotland: potatoes (runaway success), onions, french beans (delicious), brassicas (brussels sprouts are AMAZING, as well as purple sprouting broccoli, trying cabbage for the first time this year and two have successfully not been eaten by slugs!), apple trees have been amazing (we have three), and courgettes.

    We want to have a fruit patch next year too so will look forward to hearing how you get on with yours.

    P x

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  17. Hi Kate, Green Tomatoes are enjoyed also by frying them sliced with onion, garlic and whatever else in in season just use good olive oil and put this yummy mixture on spaghetti or any pasta you enjoy! Prior to serving I sprinkle parmesan cheese, salt & pepper!

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  18. Here in the States (Ohio), I was wondering what a courgette was … sound so fancy. It’s good ole zucchini! I love it (maybe because it’s so easy to grow) but now I’m going to call it by it’s fancy name. Good luck gardening, my tomatoes have been really lackluster this year too, although that could be because I keep forgetting to water them.

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  19. Love the pictures of your sweet peas! I grew a variety that you might like: Renee’s Garden: April in Paris and Spencer Ruffled. They are very beautiful and the scent is amazing! Love your blog.

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  20. Allotment in Dunblane: broad beans, runner beans, borlotti beans, french beans, peas, sugar snaps, mangetout, squashes – summer and autumn, blackcurrent, redcurrents, gooseberries, raspberries. Slugs have got my onions this year and somethings has nibbled all my brassicas!

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      1. Having a bumper crop of blueberries this year too. I grow those in a huge trug with ericaceous compost. There is an element of trial and error and growing some things in Scotland are not really worth effort. Grow what you like to eat and also if it is easy enough, what costs alot to buy or is imported from far away. That is my reasoning behind the beans and fruit. I have just come back from my plot with my first harvest of runners.

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  21. From an Alaska cold-climate gardener: Keep those green tomatoes on the vine for as long as the greenery is flourishing. Pick all the tomatoes when the vines begin to fade, and store them in the house in a single layer in a place with good air circulation. Most of them will gradually ripen. I have had home-grown tomatoes through October this way.
    Also, do specialize in the early tomato varieties, the earlier the better.

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  22. Oooh, these comments are brilliant and informative! Nothing like mining the collective wisdom of gardeners, and after all that’s where the best tips come from. As a very amateur grower, living in a similarly wet and cool climate (exposed coastal west Ireland) I have had varying degrees of success with much of what others have mentioned here from one year to the next. I never would have thought that tomatoes were remotely possible without a polytunnel in our climate, and then there is a real risk of blight. Our cooler growing season means that cut and come lettuces can thrive for many weeks without running to seed, and we’ve had lovely beetroot, chard and kale successes. But I often think, ultimately, that there is a reason our ancestral menu consisted of potatoes, onions, leeks and cabbages. ;-)

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  23. I love sweet peas. The colors are always so fantastic together. I’ll have to think of place I can plant them here next year. (I’ll have to plant them early to be our heat.)

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  24. Choose a tomato with a short number of days to maturity. They vary greatly. The ones with a fewer number of days are usually smaller (in my experience) but still taste quite good.

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  25. I do know netting over garden items deer do not like the feel of at all on their noses. We use a black type if net that is easy to toss over garden items and remove during the day. Not to your liking I am sure is a 6ft fence or higher–works the best. The smell of dog does help as well.

    Here is an interesting one from Alaska: to keep mice away from homes and what not people can buy wolf urine and they put that around foundations. Yes you can buy it at feed and grain stores in Alaska.

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    1. Have you tried patio tomatoes? I live near Syracuse, the snowiest big city in the U.S. Clay soil too. It stays cold pretty long and you can’t put tomatoes in until the end of May and the plants die off by September. Short growing season that can be coo, but not as cool as yours. This year I bought patio tomatoes. They’re already hothouse grown to where they have some fruit on them. They’ve done well this year. The tomatoes aren’t large, but they’re fresh.

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      1. I agree but put the pots of tomatoes on that pretty deck with the courgettes, I think you might have a slightly warmer micro-climate next to the house. Also, pay attention to water needs, the pots can dry put pretty quickly. And if frost is in the forecast during the night cover them with a sheet. That might extend your growing season a bit.

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  26. I just want to say that when I saw your photo of the sweet peas I could practically smell them. In fact I think I really did!

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  27. Hi Kate; I’m no expert, but I’ve found using ‘real seeds’ over hybrid F1 varieties can make a difference. Some local varieties for our climates fair better and I know some people who even grow chillies outdoors in Wales due to their commitment to local varieties! http://www.realseeds.co.uk you might find this site useful if you haven’t come across it already.

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    1. Here in Cumbria I also use realseeds.co.uk to grow decent veg in what is often weather similar to Scotland. Do give them a try, they are doing wonderful work preserving seed from old varieties. Good luck. Sue

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  28. Your raised beds look lovely! I have a little south-facing bed and although here in Kansas, my climate problems are much different than yours, I also enjoy seeing what will actually survive without too much coddling!

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  29. You don’t need a heated greenhouse for your tomatoes, but you do need maximum light. Possibly your lovely shed doesn’t get as much light as a greenhouse would provide. My green-fingered partner grows them in a mix of our own household rotted-down compost and a ( sorry planet) peat-based compost mix, in big black pots of the floor of our draughty greenhouse in East Lothian. He feeds them on Tomorite or in years when he’s feeling up to the challenge, he makes a comfrey leaf and water mix and leaves it outside my studio in huge green water butts and after six weeks the stench would raise the dead. But the tomatoes love, love, love it. In raised beds ( good thinking for this wet cold climate) broad beans are sensational and grow outside easily, purple sprouting broccoli inside your onion cordon sanitaire, rainbow chard, spinach, shallots, all the cut and come again lettuces, squashes ( grown outside the house in individual large black pots) which take forever to ripen, but that’s a squash thing, endless courgettes which picked small are To Die For, fennel, peas ( but the sparrows ate ALL the flowers, which is what we get for feeding the ungrateful wee beasts) and forget borlotti beans – we couldn’t get more than a handful of them inside the greenhouse – beautiful BUT they took up loads of room. And lastly – if you don’t mind being a tad windy – jerusalem (f)artichokes.

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    1. A large part of my green-thumb partner’s field is overrun with comfrey and now there’s a use for it! We in the states often find that our tomatoes need extra help. How does he do it? Does he stuff buckets/barrels with the leaves and let them decompose in whatever rain falls on it?

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      1. Sorry to be so slow to reply – I had no idea there was a sub-thread! He stuffs barrels with comfrey leaves, adds water to fill in the gaps and bring the level to almost the top of the barrel, then snaps on the lid and leaves them to rot down. The barrels he uses are green plastic ones with a tap arrangement on the bottom so that he can draw off the EVIL smelling liquid. But it’s very effective for tomatoes and French beans.

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  30. I notice you have already been given some hints about different tomato varieties in the comments – but here comes another. I live in Finland and successfully grow the tomato ‘Stupice’. It is suitable for growing outdoors in cold climates, no greenhouse needed. Mine were sown in april and now the first tomatoes are ripe. I grow them in big pots against a south-facing wall. Thank you for a great blog, by the way!

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  31. Kate, I discovered yesterday that there is a swedish broad bean variety called “Bohuslans Delikatess”. I think you will agree that you must find seeds and grow it!!!

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  32. I forgot to mention my favorite cucumber which originates from Murmansk ( a very cold place). It is called Muromske Drue or Muromsk Drue and it is very reliable in colder climates. My dogs love it so I rarely get enough for pickling ;-)

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  33. There are tomatoes you could try. Kimberly does excellent outdoors here in the south of Sweden even cold and rainy summers. I have tried many of the cold weather tomatoes, also the Siberian varieties, but Kimberly is the best and the tastiest of them. Year after year, it has been the first to ripen in my garden. It can be hard to find Kimberly seeds but I will be able to share some in October when I harvest seeds for 2017. This year I am also growing a Russian variety called Promyk. It sets fruit like crazy, no matter the weather, but it is later to ripe than Kimberly.

    Many of the older varieties of bush beans are also reliable for cold and wet climates. Bobis d’Albenga is an old Italian bean that you would expect to be a failure in a northern garden but here it gives abundant crops no matter what the summer is like. And they are delicious! Purple Queen is another non-fussy variety and with its dark lilac flowers it also adds beauty to the veggie beds.

    Chard grows well here most summers, especially Foordhook Giant and Lucullus. The latter is beautiful as well as delicious.

    Have you tried broad beans? They are very hardy and one could grow them for the fragrance only! It fills the whole garden and if there ever was perfume with the scent of broad bean flowers I would be the first to buy!

    Good luck with your garden!

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  34. Gardening this year has been a real challenge, think the warm weather early on and then this long dry spell has affect my veg. My peas have all collapsed and the broad beans a disaster – however runner beans are as always amazing, I would recommend growing these. I’ve had sucess growing heritage varieties, which seem to be less fussy about their growing conditions. I gave up on tomoatoes a few years ago, they are so difficult to grow and get a decent harvest. Potatoes and lettuce are a firm favourite, and minature fruit trees are good – you don’t get much fruit but what you do get tastes fantastic – and would recommed strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

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  35. Hi Kate, your garden looks great as does what you’re growing, have you tried growing beans as I know the borlotti ones seem to be quite hardy fellows. None of our brassicas (broccoli, kale, cavelo nero) came to much last Winter, not deer but the neighbours kittens who seemed run wild in the gardenna nd kept digigng everything up, we kept re-planting and putting in sticks and netting but the little monkey’s got in anyway and just destroyed everything…..
    Regarding nibbling deer, has Tom tried having a pee around your garden border? An elderly gardening friend always used to swear by the smell of urine, especially men’s, to keep away the deer, perhaps Tom could “water” your boundaries?

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  36. Well, I’ve no advice for growing in Scotland but if you aren’t wanting to add to the green chutney jars….I make homemade mincemeat with the green tomatoes my lovely neighbour gives me at the end of her gardening season here in Ontario, Canada.

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  37. Having lived in southern Ontario forever, including Toronto, would just like to add that we are able to grow I think, all varieties of tomatoes- Early Girl, Best Boy, beefsteak and all cherry varieties. They require lots of sun and water and that’s it. One year I had tomatoes until October- yet another sign of global warming I’m afraid – and found the newspaper wrapping to be quite effective with the ripening process.
    Good luck next year!
    Diane

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  38. Oooo, Green Fried Tomatoes. I’m with the other commenters about that. I was wondering if that was a thing there as I was reading your post. My family puts the slices in a little flour & pepper, then give them a dip in milk, then saltiness cracker crumbs. Then a quick pan fry. Though as I read what I wrote, it really doesn’t sound very good does it! Trust me! Yum.

    Also, I have very good success keeping the bunnies out of the garden with a tight row of marigolds around all sides.

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  39. Here in Southern Ontario Canada, where it has been hot and humid, we have enjoyed our “beefsteak” tomatoes (so-called because they are supposed to be one slice to be the size of a slice of bread, but actually take two slices), we have watered them regularly but have more stems and leaves than tomatoes. I’ve ordered the Latvian book, but as newly retired from teaching, I’m watching the “loonies” (our dollar) carefully.

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  40. Dear Kate, because we use differing places for our blogs, I am never quite sure that my comments reach you.

    All the same, I love your posts and wanted to let you know how much I look forward to each of your posts. The prior post about your Selvedge contributions and that magazine’s philosophy about show and tell was well said. I write this as a long time subscriber to Selvedge.

    How wonderful that Estonian knitting book looks. Having retired last spring, I am still critically observing my own personal budget: so much more free time is more valuable than the lost income from employment. That’s why we save and invest for decades!

    Sometime, you might enjoy visiting my blog and seeing my NYC city views, though perhaps not as much as I love seeing your views from Scotland. xo

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  41. Kate I always view gardening as a treasure hunt. Sometimes it yields bounty and sometimes not. The journey of planting and nurturing connects me with nature and brings me joy.. Having food come from it and flowers to delight the eye and nose are a bonus.I have to admit that at times the natural residents do not understand the concept of sharing. With the loss of the beloved family Labrador last summer, the groundhog has returned and enjoyed the carrots, peas (including sweet peas), beans, and parsley. The squirrels enjoy the cherry and apple trees and have been known to go after the magnolia buds. One of the best ways to help learn what to grow and how to help it grow is to contact a local gardeners club or talk to those in the neighbourhood whose gardens flourish. I have found gardeners, like knitters, are always willing to share their learning and often small cuttings and seeds.
    Some years are better than others. Some of my best gardens happen in February, in my imagination, as they sleep beneath the cold snow blanket that is winter in Ontario. Anything is possible then. Take care.

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  42. Others just mentioned this to you but I do it all the time. I take my green tomatoes, wrap each one individually in newspaper, then store them in a cardboard box in a single layer down in my cellar. Check them weekly. They will ripen and will taste almost as good as fresh from the vine. Also, when they are still on the vine, I take an old bread knife, stick it into the soil about 8 inches from the plant, and then cut through the roots in a circle around the plant. Also at the same time, I cut of the majority of the leaves on the tomato plant, leaving only a few. It shocks the plant to hurry up and ripen its fruit!

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  43. I think gardening is a challenge where ever you live. Here in the forest, the soil is decomposed granite, fast draining, in need of lots of amendments and we have mule deer, raccoons, icky vole critters and too much hail. So far things inside the high house are doing okay. Outside… So.so. I’d share our tomatoes if you were closer :-)

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  44. As I live 1400 ft in a wild exposed area and succesfully grow my veg in raised beds,I have to question what growing medium ie soil you have in these beds.They are raised so you must have added material into your garden and think this may be your area to review. Have you tested the ph etc

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  45. Kale, chard, spinach, Chinese leaves (bok choi etc), French beans and runner beans, broad beans (v hardy), peas including mangetout and sugar snap peas all do okay on my Edinburgh allotment. French beans do best when it’s warm, but they are so easy and so productive that it’s worth the risk!!

    I second the rhubarb and soft fruit. We have redcurrants, rasps, rhubabrd, gooseberries and black currants.

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  46. We could trade for a bit and learn to love our own homes more, I think. I’m here in the sultry center of North Carolina, and I never got a sweet pea to bloom. There’s a ridiculously narrow window for green peas. However, tomatoes, green beans, corn, squash (courgettes and others), cucumbers, okra – I shouldn’t go on, but many vegetables will turn out so much produce that we need to sneak out at night and leave it on the neighbor’s back steps. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale must be left till fall because summer is just too much for them. Today is miserable! I envy your wet cold weather, and it would be wonderful to bundle up in a wool sweater and sit by a nice warm fire. Maybe by late November I can do that.

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  47. Hi Kate. I am obsessed with growing vegetables and I recommend a few excellent books to find ideas:
    – “Grow your own vegetables” by Joy Larkcom – one of the best general guides I read on the subject (I read tons of them)
    – maybe more to the point, and from the same author: “Oriental Vegetables, the complete guide for the gardening cook”
    – “Four season harvest” from Eliot Coleman.

    You should explore oriental veg: they are extremely hardy, fast growing, versatile. Joy Larkcom is the ultimate specialist of the field. Eliot Coleman lives in Maine and runs an organic farm where he grows vegetables the whole year round. He has longer sun hours than you in the winter, but you have the gulfstream. So don’t despair! I totally agree with the others: you will find the veg and the varieties that feel at home in your climate.

    Good luck, and thank you for the beautiful pictures (oh the beauty of the stylised flowers on the vase with the profusion of the sweetpeas…)

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  48. Im afraid our weather like yours can make gardening difficult….my tomatoes too are abundant but green, the slugs helped themselves to all my courgettes and my sweet pea is only now beginning to bloom. A little more sunshine in our lives might help!!

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  49. I have a suggestion for your green tomatoes. Here in the Southern states of the USA, we bread and fry them much like eggplant. I have eaten them with a vinaigrette dressing and also on pulled pork sandwiches. I do believe you can bake them also with cheese and breadcrumbs. If you do try them, please let me know how you like them. : )

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  50. Have you tried kale or radishes? Though I have been an unsuccessful gardener, yielding 1 and 1/2 tomatoes this year, so, my thoughts on the subject aren’t worth a lot.

    The photos of your home and surrounding area are always so beautiful. They pull my heartstrings. :)

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  51. I’m an avid gardener and have learned that there is a huge differences in the different varieties of tomatoes. You might do well with say some of the Russian varieties. They tend to like the shorter and cooler summers.. I grew a lovely French type years ago that did very well in an area that tended to be mostly fog in the summer. I wonder what gardeners in Toronto grow. I’ve heard that the growing season there is short and cold. Seed Savers is a good place to start looking. I am sure with the right variety you can get a good crop. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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  52. Don’t give up on tomatoes (says I who am slightly tomato obsessed!) There is a variety called ‘Scotland Yellow’ and varieties from Russia and Nepal which might be worth a punt… And maybe try growing some in pots near the house where it may be a little more sheltered?

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  53. Hi Kate,

    Try the following tomato: Subarctic Plenty. It was developed for greenland by the us army. It could possible grow at your home. I hope to grow my own veg sometimes, but my garden got only some herbs.

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  54. Have you tried growing the onions round the edge of the raised beds with other veggies in the middle? The smell of the onions puts a lot of beasties off.
    Rhubarb grows well in Scotland – it comes from Siberia after all!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d suggest rocket, chard and Chinese greens.
        I bought a big plastic cloche from the range which fits exactly on my raised beds. I fill my raised beds with fresh manure with a deep later of compost on top. This arrangement creates a hot bed which in conjunction with the cloche enables me to raise and grow things earlier in the season so that there is time for things to ripen at the other end. There are patio tub varieties of tomato which yield plants of about 30cm high. I tried these last year in single pots which gave me the option to move them about or bring indoors onto the windowsill if necessary. This arrangement worked well and the toms were plentiful and tasty. I think the seeds were from Thompson and Morgan. I do have a small 10′ square polytunnel it’s been well worth the effort of installing and the expense, much cheaper than a greenhouse.

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  55. Nettles are a very versatile veg. More seriously, alpine strawberries do really well in WoS and can easily be grown from seed in your hut cum greenhouse (I only have a hut too and it is a bit hit and miss for raising seedlings in!). The alpine strawbs are quite slow to germinate but the plants then last for years. Good luck!

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  56. Gorgeous photos of your lovely property. What a good idea to put openings/slats on the sides of
    your raised beds for, I presume, better drainage and air circulation? I live in Northern California, land of
    vineyards, plentiful fresh local produce, and a mild climate for growing most anything. For some good gardening tips, recipes, and an entertaining read, try the blog agardenforthehouse.com, written by a man who lives in the Hudson
    Valley area of New York. He has a beautiful garden, despite the challenges of cold winters and, like you, visits from “wild
    beasties.” I don’t know him but I enjoy his blog and have learned alot from his gardening tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. I’ve given up on tomatoes as well and I’m a lot further south than you! Cherry toms do ok, but I can’t seem to get full size ones to fruit well or ripen. Do you grow lettuces/salad crops? I’ve only recently discovered that lettuces do better in semi-shade. I know Scotland’s good for raspberries in general – do you have any fruit? And how about legumes? Peas etc – the other good thing about peas is they improve the soil. Green mustard is a good soil improver too – plant it after you’ve harvested your crop and then just dig it in when it’s about six inches high. Good luck for next year!

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  58. I used to live in your part of the world we had a Victorian villa with large windows, we had wooden floors & put troughs in front of the Windows put compost bags in them & made holes in the plastic top for each tomato plant, the Windows made it like a greenhouse, and any tomatoes that didn’t ripen were put on top of kitchen paper on the kitchen windowsill.

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  59. No suggestions for Scotland, but just to reassure you, that my tomato plants in Dorset (grown outside) have tomatoes on them which are staying resolutely green too. The greenhouse ones are over producing, but you never get sick of them. But I just love tempting fate and planting a few outside!

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  60. Kate, I have never done this, but I have relatives who have, and they swear by it. So, it might be worth a try if you have green tomatoes.
    http://pickyourown.org/greentomatoeshowtostoreandripen.php
    If it is any consolation, I live where the climate is good for growing tomatoes, and yet I have one calamity after another every time I try to grow them, i.e. pests from above and below that ruin the plants before I can harvest any. Best of luck in your future gardening!

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  61. OH yes, FEED ME FEED ME haha. Hey, Bruce we’re talking veggies here! Your ‘few’ that you can grow would suit me perfectly. I agree with the above suggestions re tomatoes……..I have given up on them, not enough sun where I have a little space away from doggers and my neighbors always give me ‘tons’ of them and lots of green one that i let ripen on their own. Beats the store!!

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  62. I have quite the opposite problem. I’ve completely given up on growing spinach and many other brassicas. My climate is high desert, and our last frost usually comes Mother’s day weekend, but during the day it’s already in the 90’s consistently by that time. So the spinach barely gets established before it bolts. Cucumbers don’t do well here either, it gets so hot the flowers won’t pollinate. Tomatoes and peppers however…and varieties of Italian squash however are another story! The one thing that consistently does well here for greens is kale and chard (as long as I water daily). The bitterness in the late summer means that I simply feed the kale to the chickens which they seem to adore, while I wait for fall and some sweetness to return.

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  63. Hi Kate…oh how I chuckle when I hear about your weather problems..there is always something eh , wherever you live..its been so hot here in southern Ontario this summer, with many days in the 30’s Celsius and in the 40’s with the humidex..we have had a drought all summer , so everything is thirsty and always needing water

    Have you tried ripening your green tomatoes over the winter..have heard others use a large cardboard box lined with newspaper..first you wash the tomatoes under running water and remove their stems and leaves then dry..then sit them in the box, cover with more newspaper, not touching in a warm place, and check through the fall and winter at intervals..this may not be new to you..fresh veg are so nice , but it’s frustrating when the weather does not co-operate

    Best of luck…cheers. Pat j

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  64. If your tomatoes won’t ripen on the vine naturally, there are a few options: you can sever the roots about 10″ away from the plant using a trowel in a circle around the plant (which stresses the plant and causes it to ripen the fruit quickly), or pluck the green tomatoes and place them in a box or paper bag with apples to force them into ripening.

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  65. I find gardening frustrating! Plants not doing well…. too much sun/ or not enough sun! too much water/ or not enough water! too much fertilizer/ or not enough fertilizer! Our weather is unpredictable, too! Record setting drought for the beginning of August; followed by record setting deluge!
    I can certainly empathize with you and wish you success! I’ve mostly given up. We have farmers’ markets near by. I’ll let them have my dose of frustration!

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