How We Grow
Tony and Rowena started growing tomatoes in 1984. Beginning with a small patch of land on Rowena’s family farm, their combined skill set has been honed over 32 years to grow this specialty plant. Our farm is ideally suited to the growing of tomatoes, because of its soil, water and climate. The seasonal warmth of spring and summer at ‘Glencoe’ ensures healthy plant establishment, and growth of the plant throughout the entire season.
Our tomatoes are sown into prepared and cultivated beds from early to mid-October. It is from this point that our healthy soils and abundant sunshine get the crop going. The warm and nutrient rich soil profile assists plant emergence. As soon as the small tomato plants emerge, they must be actively managed and cared for. Daily evapotranspiration measurements are taken to ensure the plants water requirements are being met. All irrigation occurs through a tape underground, which means the water is applied directly to the plants’ root zone. This minimises water use and also promotes healthy plant and soil life.
Once the plants are deemed strong enough, the tomato beds are mechanically weeded using a disc cultivator to remove weeds. The small weeds that have sprouted within each planted row are then hand weeded. Our weeders often work alongside family members in the paddock. We value the contribution they make to our crop. Well weeded tomato plants do not have to compete with weeds for moisture, nutrients and later when the vine canopy starts to spread out across the bed, sunlight. We care about the people who work for us, and they understand the value & importance of the tasks they do, when working on our tomato crop.
The growth and progress of our tomatoes continues to be managed actively over their 130+ day growing cycle. Integrated Pest Management is a key aspect to our farming practice where beneficial insects, which can eat and kill pest insects, are identified. For example, the common spotted ladybird beetle, also known as the lady bug is bright orange with black dots on its back. They’re voracious predators of aphids, scale insects and mites. Adults are able to consume 2500 aphids during their life. By monitoring the insect population in the paddock, a greater understanding is gained on the role of these beneficial insects, and management techniques are adopted to encourage their survival. Additionally, from the 2014/2015 growing season bait stations of native oils in plastic containers were placed in the paddock to monitor any evidence of Queensland fruit fly. Fortunately, there were no recordings of this insect in our paddock.
We are actively investigating uses for the waste from our crop, with both the vine and fruit being used in composts and our worm farm. There is still so much to learn in the area of soil science. A tomato plant has as much organic matter under the ground as above, their root mass is truly enormous. Our aim is to further understand how we can assist our particular soil microbes to flourish in this environment. Rowena has introduced and encouraged worms into each of our paddocks. The improvements they make to the soil structure and health by feasting on the enormous root biomass left in the soil (tomato roots can reach up to 3m down into the soil) is both truly impressive and rewarding to witness. The humble worm is truly one of the hardest workers on our farm.
The activities involved in growing healthy tomatoes continue to challenge and engage us each year.
We hope with every Glencoe Farms Australia tomato or tomato based product you can taste the flavour we believe our little patch of northern Victoria can bring to your table.