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A Tomato Special

This week: A Čuk with a very sore throat; Tartajun: Do you grow Tomatoes?; The changing climate; Links for you to follow;

Yes, the Adriatic really is this colour blue
Yes, the Adriatic really is this colour blue

I am asked several times a week about what weather can be expected, based on my Dol local area forecast.

In everything I do, I try and put back into the community where I live, so I would like my weather pages to be more useful to locals than just saying what to expect this week or next!

Once you have the data in a digital format, importing it into a spreadsheet and then graphing and manipulating the data to make sense of it is easy.

However then making the information useful to people is a different question. This week I have been doing some work on that problem.

I have been over to Grad Hvar as well, had a meeting with the architect about my building plans and done some other jobs.

Last weekend it rained. It actually rained a lot!

An approaching storm
An approaching storm

We received a total of 93mm or 93 litters per m², which is a very useful amount. This has meant that I have not needed to irrigate my trees and plants at all this week.

A Čuk with a very sore throat

I have been playing with my new parabolic microphone this week, just trying to get to grips with how to get the best recordings.

Parabolic microphone
Parabolic microphone

It does look rather like a “Ray gun” from some sci-fi programme, but is extremely effective at drawing sound in.

Here in Dol, most of the time there are only the natural sounds, and those noisy dogs which live in a cage on the other side of the valley!

Throughout the year we have the EMS helicopters which lands at the “international airport” on the Stari Grad Plain, plus in summer the tandem sky-diver aircraft.

The Stari Grad International Airport
The Hvar International Airport at Stari Grad

Quite why anyone would want to pay to spend 15 minutes in an old single engined Cessna, clawing its way up to 10,000 feet, only to jump out and spend the next 17 seconds descending at a great rate of knots earthwards, I do not know.

Occasionally the shouts of joy (or screams of terror?) are audible to us on the ground. However I digress. Most of the noise I hear is from the natural world.

One of our summer migrants birds is the Scops owl , Otus scops. In Croatian this is called the Čuk.

The Scops owl, a migrant diurnal feeder
The Scops owl, a migrant diurnal feeder

The letter Č is the combined “ch” sound in English, so it is pronounced “chook”, a rough approximation of it’s call.

They are migrants, arriving around the third week of March and staying until September. Their call is a metronome perfect, almost electronic “ping” every three seconds, so when one is different it is noticeable.

Last year there was one which had a different call, as though it had a sore throat.

Instead of the gin-clear and almost mechanically produced sound, this was rough around the edges.

The bird is back again this year and is the only one with this sound. It is nice to know that he returns to the same area every year. It is a “he” because only the males call.

Waking up just after midnight, I heard the little guy and he seemed to be getting closer, so this time, with everything ready I managed to get a reasonable recording, using my new equipment. You can listen to it on this link.


For one week every year, the village of Dol become famous for the Puhijada festival.

Puhijada 2023
Puhijada 2023

It is the one night of the year when sleep is almost impossible… However since the pandemic the event has become smaller, but no less lively. In 2023 there is another really good programme.

The Puh and Super Puh (SP) are the edible doormice which live in the woods around my home. The Puhijada is the “celebration of the Puh” event.

Puh facemask
Puh in 2020 with his facemask

The Edible Doormouse, Glis glis, is a small, nocturnal rodent about the size of a squirrel, with a long bushy tail.

Edible Dormouse
Edible Dormouse

They were introduced across Europe by the Romans, who roasted and ate them.

Tartajun is the name of the village association which runs the annual festival and of our village magazine.

What most people do not realise is that the “Tartajun” is actually an agricultural tool.

I saw my neighbour on Saturday morning and asked him if he had one – and he had. I was then treated to a demonstration of how the smooth wooden sticks together with a short length of rope woven from goat hair were used to secure the grapes in animal skins.

Using a Tartajun

A big thank you to my neighbours for taking part.

This of course was one hundred or more years ago, before mechanisation, before plastic and stainless steel.

The old way - an oil painting in my next door neighbour's Konoba
Using a tartajun – The old ways – an oil painting in my next door neighbour’s Konoba

In Mario’s Konoba new oak barrels rub shoulders with stainless steel fermentation vessels for the wine. A 100 year old press used by his grandfather, is still used every autumn.

Tightening the press
Tightening the press

Hanging on the wall behind the amphora is one of the pig skins which used to e used to carry wine, secured using a “Tartajun”.

Very old tools line the walls
Very old tools hang from the walls

Apart from the pack frame which used to go on the back of donkeys, all the other old tools are kept clean and are still used.

After the demonstration, it was time for a glass of Rakija, the local 70% proof spirit Mario makes from the grape residue each year.

You do not need much of this fire water before you are under the table! Cheers…

Glass of Rakija
Glass of Rakija

Do you grow Tomatoes?

Do you grown Tomatoes (or anything else)? If so read on.

Heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes

The rain over the past weekend has allowed me to do some work on the statistics from my Dol weather station.

I had to check my formulae because I was surprised that the 11 day running average temperatures for 2023 have been consistently lower since January, than in previous years.

11 Day running average temperatures
11 Day running average temperatures

I hadn’t made a mistake. The increased rainfall and lower temperatures this year are another example of climate change.

But why 11 days?

I discovered last year that there are a number of scientific research papers which show that the 11 day running average temperature is directly linked to the soil temperature.

And the soil temperature directly affects how ALL seeds and young plants germinate and grow.

Why am I talking about Tomatoes? Well, there are several thousand varieties, which will grow and thrive in places as far apart as the tropics, Mexican deserts and during Finland’s short summer.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of hours of research have gone into understanding how Tomatoes grow.

From the ideal temperature for germination, to the ideal temperature range for flowering and fruiting, and the upper temperature at which growth stops.

Cardinal temperatures for tomatoes
Cardinal temperatures for tomatoes

Other plants, Maize, Rice, Wheat and similar have also been studied in depth to produce charts of what are called the “Cardinal Temperatures”.

The “Cardinal temperature” is the maximum, minimum and optimum temperature range within which the seed of a particular species germinate.

The lowest temperature at which crop growth occur is the minimum cardinal temperature. The temperature at which maximum growth of the plant occurs is known as optimum cardinal temperature.

However beyond Tomatoes, nothing which we “hobby horticulturalists” grow, for example Zucchini, melons, peppers and beans has been so extensively studied.

The changing climate

Our climate is changing. The growing season is getting longer and it is hotter in summer than it was even five years ago.

Another of my charts shows the temperature bands I have recorded here in Dol. There were no days above 35ºC six years ago. In 2021 and 2022 we had sixteen days of these temperatures.

Chart of temperature bands
Chart of temperature bands

Stari Grad will be hotter in summer and colder in Winter than Dol.

Vrboska, Jelsa and Vrbanj are similar to Dol, but each location, even though only 5 km away from Dol, have their own microclimates, so there will be some differences.

When you buy Tomato seeds at Volat, BEPO (or your local store), do you look at the suitability of the variety for your environment, or is it the picture on the front?

Do you buy because you want plum, beef and cherry tomatoes, or is it because they are right for your growing conditions? You can ask that question about every seed packet you buy.

I sometimes buy tomato plants from the local market, but have yet to get a named variety. The seller knows if they are plum or cherry, and that is about it.

Over time I have found varieties which grow well here in Dol, even this year in the polytunnel.

Picking tomatoes today
Picking tomatoes today

However the heat inside the polytunnel (over 43ºC) has affected some of the plants.

Affected by the heat
Affected by the heat

Tomatoes readily hybridize, so when I have a plant which produces juicy, flavourful fruits, I will keep some seeds for next year.

A bush variety
A bush variety

It is easy to scoop the seeds out onto kitchen paper and let them dry.

Saved tomato seeds
Saved tomato seeds

Then when you want to plant them, soak the paper for 24 four hours and then plant the seeds individually into pots.

This is my first year with the polytunnel, so I am experimenting with summer sown tomatoes, to see if I can get fruit in October, long after local plants have died off.

Links for you to follow

I have looked at tomato varieties for warm, hot and humid climates and have produced a list of where you can buy the seeds in Europe.

List of named varieties for hot climates
List of named tomato varieties for hot climates

Most UK and North American seed suppliers no longer will send to Europe.

For next year, I have ordered some seeds which will thrive in extremely hot temperatures to try. I am going to try Phoenix, Basrawya and Al Kuffa.

So does anyone else want to have a go? I would love to hear what you think. NCG

Not sure of the difference between Determinate and Indeterminate varieties is? It’s all here:

Tomato Taxonomy