This week saw us at Sun Harvest preparing the nursery for the planting out of our new “children” – the couple thousand new tomatoes, the signature start to our growing journey for 2017. This year is a special year for us as we mark 15 years in business, an adventure that began in August of 2002. after the construction of our then, “brand new” greenhouse. We have seen many changes in our management of the crop over the past decade and a half, and some things that have never waivered. For one, when we started , we grew the tomatoes on the floor in plastic channels , whereby the tomato roots were submersed in a constant stream of the nutrient enriched water – true hydoponic culture, called the nutrient film technique. The year we decided to grow the tomatoes on suspended troughs in rockwool horticultural substrate led to improvements of overall plant root health and staff morale from not having to bend over for hours of the day. We have changed the polyethylene film a few times which covers all of the greenhouses since we started, as it becomes somewhat dirty and deteriorates from photodegradation over time. We have changed varieties of our cocktail /snacking / tomatoes on the vine as customer preferences changes. We have expanded our lettuce offering with heat tolerant greenhouse varieties now available all summer for our salad loving customers. We have even begun offering a mini cucumber for the fall market that has proven to be a joy to grow and a treat for our patrons, in addition to our staple English cucumber growing program. And we have fine tuned our biological control program based on new research that has lead to improved control of greenhouse pests using the “good bug eating bad bug” principles.
However, there are two very important constants that have allowed us to get to this point, now 15 years on…. our famous beefsteak tomatoes … and a new pair of shoes. Seems like an odd pairing.. Great tasting beefsteak tomatoes, in our case come from old genetics, as we have yet to find a newer hydroponic – suited variety that can provide that consistent “fresh picked from the garden” taste as our customers can attest. And every production year in the hydroponic greenhouse starts with a new pair of shoes. New shoes, in a freshly cleaned greenhouse, means a healthy start to the crop. No tracking in of “unwanted” guests/ pests that could pose a risk to a full year crop . Two very important constants that earmark the trademark and traditions at Sun Harvest.
So here we grow again – it’s only 10 weeks until we are picking that fresh taste of summer , Kingston!