Crop 2003 Preparations

Yes, from looking at the photographs you would be right in thinking that we are getting ready for the next tomato crop! After our September rest we have to start making preparations in the glasshouses. It is a long job for us - a bit at a time - but by the last week in November everything will be ready for sowing the seed and the main house ready for transplanting a week before Christmas. The seed sowing has to have a steady day and night temperature of 21 degrees C for the first part of the process to get good germination and sturdy plants - with the help of additional CO2 and lights to assist the meagre winter radiation from the sun. This year we have had to replace the oil fired burner in the propagating house - quite a capital cost for the four weeks a year it gets used! But growing tomatoes today is all about getting the details right with as much scientific help we can get to guide us.
The new tomato crop for 2003 will be from a different variety. It is called Encore! We expect that it will be as tasty as the previous variety which we have used for several seasons. But it is even more expensive at 18pence a seed. That will take some recovering. However, tomato growers are used to being gamblers in the wholesale markets. Everything is down to professional pride in the product we grow to fruition and that is good enough for us but it is certainly not for some larger growers who are also in financial difficulties over the prices they receive. Spare us a thought!

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