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Yellow Colouring on Tomatoes

yellow shoulder disorderThe Amish Paste tomatoes that I am growing are showing a bright yellow colour at the top of the fruit.

After a search on the internet I found out that this is Yellow Shoulder Disorder. The fruits do ripen but stay yellow (or green) at the top of the fruit. At first I thought it was some kind of insect or fungal problem …but it isn’t.

Heat and Soil

It seems to be caused by extreme heat and/or poor soil conditions. Yellow shoulder disorder can be prevented by changing the soil pH and adding organic matter to the soil.

Also, tomatoes grown on soils with a high potassium level are less likely to suffer from yellow shoulder disorder. Crop rotation, shielding the plants from the sun on the hottest days, soil testing before planting out and using a feed especially for tomatoes (with a higher potassium level) will all help to produce healthy tomatoes and prevent yellow shoulder disorder.

Still Edible

The ripe tomatoes are still edible although the yellow part has lost its nutritional value and flavour.  There is nothing I can do for this year’s crop but use the tomatoes to make roasted tomato sauce.

After the season is over I will add loads of organic matter and test the soil before planting out and starting over again next year.

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Too many Apples on a Tree

Every week I email a gardening question to the panel of experts at BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Garden Party and then eagerly listen to the programme the following day, scribbling down the gems of information they kindly offer. Sometimes Laila sends a question or two as well. This is a transcript of the advice that The Garden Party experts gave us on this week’s gardening challenge!

My Question:

Hello Thunderfairy and the Garden Party experts.

We have a Greensleeves variety apple tree that we planted about four years. This year, for the first time, it is brimming with beautiful large green apples which are putting  a lot of strain on the long slim branches – some of which are bending almost to the ground.

In the short term, should we thin the apples out (which seems a bit of a shame because they’re not ripe yet and I hate waste) …and in the long term, could we prune the tree differently to shorten and thereby strengthen the branches? If so, how and when please?

Many thanks in advance for your advice!

Best regards



Experts’ answer:

(BBC Radio Norfolk’s The garden party is presented by Thordis Fridriksson aka @thunderfairy and Alan Gray from East Ruston Old Vicarage with this week’s guest, Ben Potterton, owner of  Blacksmith’s Cottage Nursery.

ALAN: Bridget! You obviously want your cake and eat it too! In fact you should’ve pruned the tree earlier as it has got some rather long and whippy branches on it and yes, I would thin the apples out by about half otherwise the branches risk being damaged and broken by the wind and the rain later in the year.

The next thing you need to do is think about getting it a decent shape but not until winter when the tree is dormant.  I’d probably shorten some of those branches back by about two thirds because you need to build up a framework. Aim for a goblet shape so that you’ve got an open centre to let the wind in to keep fungal diseases at bay.

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Recipe; Quince Jelly

Neighbour’s Back Garden

My mother’s next door neighbour has a large quince tree in her back garden. In fact I can remember her planting it as a young sapling back in the 1980s. Then, in the 1990s I recall my young son scaling the garden wall and scrumping a big, beautiful quince; taking a bite, me catching him in the act and the look of disappointment on his little face because it didn’t taste anything like he’d hoped… so stolen fruit isn’t always sweeter!



Quinces, related to apples and pears, are rather unusual because although they look a bit like a large pear, in their raw state they are very unyielding and in spite of their delightful smell, they are not at all sweet. However, something magical happens when you cook them. Before your very eyes a bright yellow fruit produces amber coloured liquor, which then with the addition of sugar, changes again to a beautiful rich, claret coloured gel.

So not only does quince jelly look pretty, it also tastes pretty and is simply sublime spread on toast or scones. Also, I’m reliably informed (although I have yet to try) that it’s very good with roast and cold meats as well as cheeses …which, with Christmas just around the corner, all sounds very appealing.


Recipe for Quince Jelly;

Anyway, don’t take my word for it. If you’re fortunate enough to know anyone with a quince tree or indeed if you happen to have one yourself, it would be a crime not to make some. So here’s the recipe, tried and tested – believe me, it’s simplicity itself:

  • First of all wash your fruit and cut roughly into chunks into a large pan – skin, pips and all.
  • Cover with enough water so that the quinces just begin to float and then boil until the fruit is tender.
  • Strain the liquid through a sieve – because the fruit holds its shape and doesn’t go mushy, the liquid remains crystal clear.
  • Measure how much liquid you’ve got.
  • Return it to the pan and add 1lb (450g) sugar for every pint (570 ml) of juice.
  • Bring slowly to the boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve and then continue boiling for about ¾ hour until a little of the  liquid poured onto a cold saucer reaches the wrinkle stage. I find placing a couple of saucers in the freezer beforehand makes testing for setting point much easier…
  • Finally, decant the liquid into warm sterile jars and seal.

Quince jelly

Quince Convert

I’m now a quince convert and if we had room at the Villas for another tree then quince, which is a small ornamental tree grown for it’s attractive blossom as well as it’s fruit, would definitely be my first choice. I find it charmingly old fashioned, and the fruit is something a bit different that you won’t find at any supermarket.