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30 Dec 2020

The farming operation currently consists of a 3 400m2 multi-span greenhouse divided into sections, each containing about 1 000 tomato plants. Therefore it is recommended to avoid growing tomatoes on plots that used for other sensitive crops (peppers, eggplants, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans and others) on recent years. GREENHOUSE TUNNELS Vegetables are important for food security and poverty alleviation. The following year, after she fell pregnant with their second son, Jeandré, Bryan persuaded her to resign and take over the tomato operation on their farm while he conc… She was the Western Cape winner of the smallholder category in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ 2014 Female Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Hi Mark, Stumbling on your site today was an inspiration! A ‘high tunnel’ is a large cold-frame hoop house or greenhouse which is usually unheated. “Growing tomatoes on tomatoes is not the best idea from a soil disease risk management perspective,” said Joe Hannan, commercial horticulture specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. In some countries, greenhouses are more commonly used when weather conditions are less than perfect, or to raise seedlings that are going to be planted out. Greenthumb Hydroponics is South Africa’s premium grow-shop. HYDROPONICS IN TUNNEL FARMING What is tunnel farming? Get our FREE GUIDE to Common Tomato Problems. There isn’t therefore the opportunity to make openings, except at the two ends. Werner Bekker from the chemical supplier, Intelligro, has also assisted her with a fertilisation and pest management programme. This not only has marketing advantages; it also means you’re using your labour force more effectively. Large plants can grow up to 3 m or 10 ft! Production. These enabled Eleanore and her team to take extra precautions such as placing tree stumps at the bottom of the windshields as anchors. During a recent violent storm, the farm suffered no damage thanks to early warnings received. Generally tunnels are made by stretching transparent polythene over a series of metal hoops that form the structure of the tunnel. This is largely a fallacy since tunnels are BIG, and if you move them you will damage the plastic, which will then need to be replaced. (Best months for growing Tomato in South Africa - Humid sub-tropical regions) S = Plant undercover in seed trays T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Single-or Multispan tunnels can be provided to our clients. After leaving school, she had completed a bookkeeping course and had subsequently been employed on the farm to assist in the office. Offering outstanding customer service, increased flexibility, and greater value, ... 7160, South Africa At the time, Eleanor was working at Boland College in Stellenbosch as a student administrator. The bag is then filled with a growth medium of wood chips. Perfect for small urban gardeners, farmers and nursaries. Get your copy of our No 1 best seller. Price EXCLUDES Delivery which depends on what size tunnel and where. Our goal is to supply farmers with a cost effective solution to covering large areas with tunnels. Tomato production in South Africa remained constant over the past three years. To date, however, the results achieved have been dismal, with many examples of expensive, government-funded infrastructure being abandoned only months after being erected. Tomato Plant Nutrition: What Nutrients do Tomato Plants Need? Crop Rotation: What to Plant After Tomatoes. Sterilisation is expensive, however, and we have ample access to wood chips from the sawmill.”. I was forced to destroy all the plants in the greenhouse to eradicate this devastating pest,” she says. Once proof of payment is made, please allow 7 – 14 days for delivery, depending how busy we are at … Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. “We try to produce a continuous harvest by planting new tomato seedlings in one of these sections every month. Tomatoes are prone to soil-borne diseases caused by fungi, viruses or bacteria. They use the sun to warm the crops and can be great for those who grow food in colder climates. We also manufacture galvanized- , mild steel painted structures on request. Growing of tomatoes in tunnels is still on the increase as an important cultivating method in South Africa and at present, about 100 ha of tomatoes are grown in tunnels. If you are looking for detailed, easy to understand instructions on all aspects of growing tomatoes, don’t miss our great book, How To Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes. Haygrove brings a grower to grower approach. “You not only need to work hard and know what you’re doing on the farming side; you also need skills such as the management of people and finances, as well as logistics, business planning and the marketing of produce.”. This year, unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan, as production was disrupted by an outbreak of potato tuber moth [Phthorimaea operculella]. Growing tomatoes: Give them room to grow. The tomatoes are sorted and packed in a facility on the farm. Tomato production in South Africa employs between 25 000 and 28 000 people a year, with increased numbers during the summer months when production volumes are higher. Tomatoes are, however, seldom direct seeded in the land. Suppliers of Greenhouses, Tunnels & Hydroponic Systems. “Some producers use the growth medium more than once by rotating the crop or sterilising the medium. If growers have suitable sized equipment, they may shape and cover beds with plastic mulch. Over time a growing number of companies have manufactured less expensive structures, some of which are available in kit form. The glass (or polycarbonate) transmits light during the day and can be capable of trapping quite a lot of heat at night. Eleanore stresses that farmers need to recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and continually work to improve these if they wish to succeed. All our Eco Tunnels are Strong | Sturdy | Weather Resistant | Durable | Economical | Sustainable. One of the joys of growing tomatoes in pots is that they do so well, and if the pots can be moved as the sun moves then one can pick tomatoes well into winter, which is a real bonus. © 2020 Farmer's Weekly Magazine | Caxton Magazines Digital |, From novice farmer to successful tunnel producer, Land beneficiaries’ 20-year struggle for government help, Breeding seasons in summer rainfall areas, Healthy food is becoming increasingly unaffordable, Building a mega business through egg production, Growing garlic: a golden opportunity for SA farmers, Good wheat year ahead, but climate uncertainty prevails, Table grapes yet to experience full impact of COVID-19, Avocados remain buoyant amid ‘insatiable demand’, ‘Consumer spending will determine poultry sector’s fortunes’. At the end of the day a tunnel and a commercial greenhouse generally do the same thing. Greener Solutions has exceptional experience in delivering commercial greenhouse projects in South Africa and the SADC region. “However, the reality is that tomatoes are so valuable in a high value environment like a high tunnel so it is easy to justify the risk.” We upgraded to our current store in August 2019 thanks to our loyal customers. We courier them all over South Africa. Standard 3.5m w ide x 2.2m high x different lengths. Ten reasons not to grow tomatoes in high tunnels This article was reprinted with permission from Penn State Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Gazette. “One of the biggest challenges for small-scale farmers like me is to offer continuous supply volumes throughout the year. Cherry tomatoes can also be grown in large pots and trained on a wigwam or trellis. But even a sheltered environment like a plastic-covered tunnel frame gives some natural “control” of both light and moisture. Cucumbers and tomatoes growing in a Haygrove garden tunnel For those who consider becoming urban farmers, but are hesitant because of their already busy lifestyles; Haygrove’s garden tunnel come fully equipped with an irrigation system. Undercover crop production has long been touted as a viable option for uplifting and empowering new farmers. ZZ2 is a South African agricultural group that grows fruits and vegetables. Greenhouses are already a very important way to produce vegetables in South Africa because of the production potential, the high quality of the produce and the efficient water usage. Computerised fertigation is carried out according to a formula based on the age of individual plants. As she had no practical farming experience, she enrolled in various production courses offered by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Climate control is managed manually by opening or closing doors and tunnel vents. I’m going to walk you through how a high tunnel works, what grows best in a high tunnel, how you compensate for poor weather by using a high tunnel, and more. Original greenhouse designs originating during the Victorian era were expensive structures that were made with steel and glass. Tunnel Tomatoes Atletico, Daniella, Gabriella CULTURAL ASPECTS The production of plants The seed required, to plant one hectare varies from about 100 g to 200 g when using seedtrays, to 250 g if grown in seedbeds and up to about 2 kg if directly sown in the production field. We opened our 1st walk-in store in 2014. Tomatoes are a seasonal crop with a limited lifespan of 20 to 24 weeks. High tunnels have made a big impact on production, especially for many small-scale vegetable producers. Furthermore, great success was achieved by covering the plants with a plastic-clad semi-circular structure, dubbed a “tunnel”. Eco-Tunnels are eco-friendly greenhouse tunnels made in an easy-to-assemble DIY Kit. To add value to the produce, and to keep workers busy during quieter periods, Eleanore recently started to make jam from second-grade tomatoes. In the 70’s it was found that vegetables could be successfully grown without soil by using nutrient based solutions. Many commercial tomato farmers grow their crops in greenhouses which have a scientifically controlled micro-climate. Made on order and delivered all over South Africa. Production expansion would also help me to create new employment opportunities,” she explains. In 2012, Eleanore’s husband, Bryan, received government funding to erect a multi-span greenhouse for tomato production on their 9ha smallholding, Compagniesdrift. One of the stock warnings professionals give when it comes to growing tomatoes in soil beneath a growing structure is that it needs to be sterilized or regularly replaced. So why not do a bit more homework before you decide which way to grow tomatoes at home? Although Eleanore would ideally like to erect an additional multi-span greenhouse to increase production, the cost of about R1 million per greenhouse has proven prohibitive. Every good reason to grow tomatoes and other high return vegetables and small fruits in high tunnels … A nursery in Stellenbosch produces the tomato seedlings; this enables Eleanore to concentrate on propagating the plants and growing the crop. Other growers plant through holes cut in weed-inhibiting ground cloth. Plant bags are then prepared by first placing a layer of tree bark at the bottom of each bag to facilitate drainage. This was the first outbreak of potato tuber moth in the region, and Eleanore has since adapted production to prevent future outbreaks. Windows are often incorporated in traditional greenhouse structures, aiding ventilation. The thing is that tunnels are usually quite large, having been developed for commercial use. However, Eleanore Swart, who produces tomatoes under cover near Botrivier in the Overberg, is proof that new farmers can achieve success with this highly technical production method. Cherry tomatoes produce small fruit, ideal for salads. Initially, tomato growers using tunnels generally use a field production approach and place transplants in the ground. As the area tends to experience strong wind, nets have been erected on the sides of the multi-span tunnel to shield it. A factor in Eleanore’s favour was that she had grown up on a farm near Grabouw, where her father had been employed as a farmworker and had kept his own vegetable garden. A Quadgrow Planter is farther down on the right. In the 70's it was found that vegetables could be successfully grown without soil by using nutrient based solutions. They are usually the same kind of height as a regular shed and so are tall enough to grow high-growing tomato plants. The majority of tunnel production in South Africa is carried out in standard (non-temperature controlled) tunnels, while utilization of temperature controlled tunnels is increasing. Demand from the retail outlets that she supplied previously tended to fluctuate. For example, Eleanore has to continually monitor the electrical conductivity (EC) of the water to ascertain its soluble salt content. In 2012, Eleanore’s husband, Bryan, received government funding to erect a multi-span greenhouse for tomato production on their 9ha smallholding, Compagniesdrift. Tunnels are usually constructed on bare earth. At the time, Eleanor was working at Boland College in Stellenbosch as a student administrator. Before growing tomatoes for the first time, do market research in your community to see what types of tomato are popular among farmers and sell well. While tunnels are not quite as sophisticated as traditional greenhouses, they do a really good job. High tunnels and greenhouses also provide a protected growing environment for plants which increases the potential for higher yields and more uniform fruit. With over 25 years of hydroponic production and greenhouse experience, professional greenhouse horticulture is our field of expertise. Walk-in tunnels are a much more modern invention, but strangely not necessarily cheaper than a small greenhouse. Tomatoes are grown all over the country in summer and in winter in frost-free areas, and their production is concentrated in Limpopo, the Mpumalanga Lowveld and Middleveld, the Pongola area of Kwazulu-Natal, the southern parts of the Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape. Funnily enough the damaging little whitefly is more of a pest in greenhouses that it is when tomatoes are grown out in the open. High tunnels have the potential of extending the season, improving yield and quality and making organic production possible for many crops, especially a crop like tomatoes that can be difficult to produce organically in our climate. “I never imagined myself as a farmer, but taking over the tomatoes presented an opportunity to be my own boss and work more flexible hours,” she recalls. The type and size of tomato varies greatly from area to area; if you choose wrongly, you’ll get a lower price. While production suffered a setback, it is recovering slowly, with four sections now planted to tomatoes that will be ready for harvesting in a matter of weeks. It stems from the original idea in the 19th century that crops could be grown using hydroponics as opposed to growing in the soil. Large varieties will need a few feet of space to stretch out their stems and vines. As the plants mature, and as the weather grows warmer, more applications are added. Now a favourite with 11,000+ home gardeners in 88 countries! “You have to clean the planting area thoroughly and use new growth medium to prevent a build-up of harmful organisms that could damage production,” Eleanore explains. Another “advantage” some give is that, because they are not “permanent” you can move them if the soil becomes “diseased”. To supplement production capacity in the interim, Eleanore has invested in six small tunnels and is planning to add two more later this year. Some are made with aluminium (or aluminum – depending where you live!) The photo right shows the tomatoes growing in Easy2Grow AutoPots. They provide protection from wind, rain, hail and of … Living in Rhodes makes winter growing a nightmare of note. Cherry or bush tomatoes will support their own weight without stakes, but larger vine varieties need support. Alan improved the farm’s infrastructure, and after farming open fields for a few years, erected a number of tunnels to grow tomatoes hydroponically. To ensure long-season production of indeterminate varieties, greenhouses need to include crop supports and have the structural strength to carry the weight of a heavy crop, whilst providing the … and either glass or polycarbonate sheeting. Tomato Plant Spacing 101: How to Calculate the Optimal Spaces. They provide protection from wind, rain, hail and of course from the sun and from excessively cold conditions. This make watering as easy as pressing a button. Growing tomatoes in a high tunnel or hoop-house extends the season by providing protection from frost and maintaining warmer temperatures that allow for earlier harvest. Greenhouses are permanent structures and can be very attractive features in the garden. “I bought the tunnels second-hand from a farmer who retired due to health problems. 3m|6m|9m|12m|24m long. High concentrations can reduce growth as the ions contributing to high EC could compete with fertiliser nutrients for plant uptake. He empowers me with knowledge and in effect helps to continually improve my farming skills,” Eleanore says. DIY tunnels are available and easy to erect. These could be infrastructural problems, such as broken or poorly positioned irrigation pipes, or growth and production problems caused by pests or other factors, such as nutritional deficiencies or climatic conditions.”. It is recommended that picking is done early in the morning and that tomatoes should be moved into the packhouse as soon as possible and not left in a hot area for long periods. Nevertheless, in South Africa food insecurity still exists. Greenhouses and less sophisticated tunnels provide excellent growing conditions for tomatoes, even when temperatures are not closely controlled. Growing solutions. On average, young plants receive fertigation three times a day for six minutes at a time in winter.

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