Star Ingredient: Tomatoes

August is one of the key months during the growing season at Water Lane and the beds and glasshouses are full of lettuces, chard, beans, and of course, tomatoes. Not a day goes by without a tomato dish on the menu. Last year, like much of the south-east of England, we lost most of our tomato crop to blight, but this year the plump red, yellow, orange and even green fruits are ripe and abundant. We’ve been experimenting with different varieties and this year are cropping Flamingo F1 (small red plum), Cream Sausage (Heritage small yellow plum), Indigo Blue Berries (small purple round), Tigerella (medium red-yellow stripe), Pink Brandywine (Heritage large red Beefsteak).

Tomatoes are also easy to grow at home once you’ve mastered a few of specific requirements. The plants need full sunshine, space and they must be kept moist, allowing plenty of airflow to help prevent fungal diseases such as blight and wilt. As hungry feeders, add a high potassium feed once a week. If you don’t have a greenhouse to grow tall cordon varieties, try a dwarf bush variety in a terracotta pot against as sunny brick wall. To maximise fruit production, make it a daily habit to pinch out the side shoots to push all the plant’s energy into the already developing fruit. This is apparently where the phrase ‘green-fingered’ comes from! Remember to inhale deeply that crushed green floral scent the tomato leaves - surely one of the best scents of summer. Raw tomatoes, simply dressed with good oil and salt, is a treat, but one of the favourites on the current Water Lane menu is wood oven roasted tomatoes, feta, rocket and marjoram. ver it is, the way you tell your story online can make all the difference.