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QUESTION: I LOVE sun dried tomatoes - What tips can you give for growing them in the first place?

Frankie’s Garden ANSWER: There are several things my old Granddad taught me on his allotment and I’m sure they apply just as much here as back then. He always planted his new tomato plants very deep, stripping off a lot of the lower leaves first and putting about 50% of the plant in the ground. That way the plant grows a much bigger and stronger root ball, giving a higher yield. If you want an early crop plant as soon as any danger of frost has passed. Obviously this will be more relevant to those living high up but they do start selling the small plants on the market stalls quite early here. If nighttime temperatures are likely to drop below about 13 degrees, cover your new plants with an old net curtain, horticultural fleece or cloches, otherwise they won’t set fruit. Make sure you water evenly and constantly as this will help eliminate a lot of the problems associated with growing tomatoes i.e. fruit splitting and blossom end rot (this is when the bottom turns black). Feed regularly. A weekly feed increases health and yield of tomatoes. Either use a

purpose bought tomato fertiliser (if you can find one here) or use one rich in seaweed (alga marina). Be sure to harvest regularly. As soon as your fruit starts to ripen, check daily and harvest immediately they turn red. This will ensure the plants send their energy into developing fruit rather than to already ripened tomatoes. At the end of the season if there are any green tomatoes and you don’t fancy making chutney, don’t discard them as they will ripen. Don’t put them on a windowsill to ripen off, the traditional method, which will give very tough skins. Tomatoes ripen from the bottom up and the inside out! They may turn red but may not be ripe and could still be green on the inside. Put them in a warm, dark place and cover with a single sheet of newspaper. The light needed for growth is no longer necessary and they should ripen in no time and be sweet and succulent. Ask Frankie a gardening question! Send an email to

Gardens ‘Create Feelgood Factor’ relax is becoming ever more crucial,” she said. “Nowhere does this better than the quiet corner of a garden or a park that gives us the chance to breathe in our natural surroundings and refresh our weary spirit,” she added. Gardening as a pastime was also considered to be good for a person’s health. According to the Space to Grow report, 30 minutes of weeding burns the same amount of calories as a half hour walk, and gardening may even benefit those who suffer from mental illness. “Never has access to a garden been more important for our spiritual and physical wellbeing than it is in today’s rapidly changing landscape,” said gardener and TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh. “The message is clear: if you want to feel better, get out into a garden,” he said. Out of those who believed spending time in gardens was important to their quality of life, 48% felt it was the most enjoyable activity above watching TV (33%) and shopping (14%), said the survey.

More than 70% of people believe spending time in the garden may improve their quality of life, suggests a survey for the National Trust. One in three people also considered gardens to be romantic places which could boost their love lives. Many of those surveyed they would rather spend time in their gardens than in front of the TV or shopping. The Ipsos MORI survey polled the responses of 956 people over the age of 15 in England and Wales. The research was commissioned by the National Trust to coincide with the publication of its new report, ‘Space to Grow: Why People Need Gardens’. Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, said she was “passionate” about the idea everyone should have access to gardens and green spaces: “In today’s fast-paced world, finding space and time to unwind and

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Chilli breeder produces new scorcher..................

A new British bredchilli pepper could be a contender for the title of hottest chilli in the world, after initial testing put it at over 700,000 on the Scoville scale measuring levels of capsaicin, the chemical which makes chillies ‘hot’. ‘Bengle Naga’ is the result of years of careful selection from an Indian strain of the Bhut Jolokia chilli by Joy Michaud of Dorset-based chilli specialists Sea Spring Seeds. It produces abundant crops of limegreen, wrinkled fruits maturing to deep red. Its first Scoville testing last year produced a rating of 732,000 SHU and trials are now under way to test the chilli’s score when grown in varying conditions. ‘We’ve got to keep testing it for a few more years yet, but it’s definitely one of the super-hots,’ said Joy.

Joy is the breeder of ‘Dorset Naga’, a previous holder of the world record, which also scored 700,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) in early tests, later going

on to hit over 1 million SHU. The current record holder is the Trinidad Scorpion type ‘Butch T’, bred in Australia, which has been rated at over 1.4 million SHU.

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Sol Times Newspaper issue 191 Costa Blanca Edition  

Sol Times Newspaper issue 191 Costa Blanca Edition

Sol Times Newspaper issue 191 Costa Blanca Edition  

Sol Times Newspaper issue 191 Costa Blanca Edition