Just in time to plant tomatoes I discovered a terrific stall at Kallista market. Mulling over the varieties took time, but these took my fancy: `College Challenger’: `2 weeks earlier than Grosse Lisse’; derives from Hawkesbury, I’m told while `Burnley Bounty’ comes from my horticultural Alma Mater and produces juicy, round, medium size fruit which, if left on the vine, `develop a glorious taste’. `Cherokee Purple’ – dusty rose, extremely sweet, large flat fruit; `Wapsipinicon’ – a peach tomato (whatever that is), `slightly spicy, very fruity, sweet flavours, light and creamy’; and `Principe Borghese’, a heavy yielding cherry tomato, `excellent for sundried tomatoes’ also took my fancy. The mouth waters, doesn’t it?
Herbs near the kitchen are doing well and thyme is brilliant as a pretty edger where it’s dreadfully dry and the soil powdery. This stall had some different herbs and one of the owners, Marg, introduced me to her thymes: Pizza, Rainbow Falls, Bergamot and – slightly lemon scented - Mt Tomah thymes; these will edge my paving nicely.
Tradition says Melbournites can plant tomatoes between Grand Final day and Melbourne Cup Day and if warm weather occurs we may have tomatoes for Christmas. With good watering I am hopeful!
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design and garden writer who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)