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Editors Letter: Your tomatoes are coming on a treat

Back in the Eighties when I was editor of Garden News my colleague and TV gardener Geoff Amos had a joke he always told at our readers' evenings about an old west country gardener having to recount good and bad news to his absent master from the big house.

The bad news was that the house had burned down taking wife and dog with it. Being positive the gardener said: "The good news is that with all the heat your tomatoes are coming on a treat."

I was reminded of that punchline during our summer heatwave. As we sweltered and looked forlornly on our ailing borders and parched lawn, in the greenhouse the tomatoes and cucumbers were coming on a treat. In fact, a bit too well. Like triffids the cucumbers wound around the roof, walls and the tomato vines- resisting all efforts to cut them back. When we did wield the secateurs there were more cucumbers hidden, ready to pick.

Neighbours and family have benefited from the cucumber glut and I have been eating lots of Greek salads! We could have supplied the sandwich fillings for a Buckingham Palace garden party.

It wasn't such good news for some of our plants. Just like most of the country we are now counting the cost. It looks like a few specimens in our developing holly hedge won't make it. But it probably won't be long before my wife will be bemoaning our waterlogged clay soil and the poor old plants will face drowning instead of dying of thirst. But for now, at least, I can think of Geoff and smile as I try to keep the vines inside the greenhouse.

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