Growing Tomatoes All Winter Long
We strive to grow great tasting tomatoes, all year ‘round, every single day.
But growing tomatoes every season in Maine has its challenges. While our tomatoes are inside and enjoying 72-degree warmth, the weather conditions outside the greenhouse play a big role in our operations.
Let’s take a look at the big three: Light, Snow and Cold.
Tomatoes love sunlight. On average in the winter, we’re only able to enjoy about 10 hours of sunlight a day in the Northeast. And since we’re further from the sun during the winter, the sunlight we do receive is weaker in energy levels compared to those summer rays.
With lower energy levels and less sun, we cherish the sunlight we do get and rely on our growing lights much more in the winter. Want to learn more about our growing lights? Check it out here.
It snows here in Madison, a lot. On average, we receive anywhere from 8-10 feet of snow every winter. We heat our roof so snowfall doesn’t accumulate and reuse that water for our plants. While our roof is made of glass, it’s very strong: it can hold more than 70 kgs. per square meter. What we’re most concerned about is the snow blocking our precious sunlight!
Remember all the heavy snow we received last year? We actually had to go up on one of our pack houses to shovel off the snow!
During the winter, there’s no better place to be than in the greenhouse. It’s a beautiful summer day, every day, and everyone wears short sleeves!
But when it’s particularly cold outside, we’re use a lot of heat inside the greenhouse to maintain the temperatures that tomatoes need in order to thrive. We generate heat from a few different sources, including hot water pipes in every row, as well as supplemental heat from the growing lights.
To ensure we’re using the least amount of energy to create and maintain this heat, we’ve built retractable screens on the roof and walls to act as insulation. By closing them when there’s no sunlight to absorb, we can retain heat much more efficiently.
Whether it’s light, snow or cold, the secret to growing great tasting fruit all year ‘round is not to let the tomatoes know what’s happening outside the greenhouse! We do our best to mimic the summer conditions that they love and keep them happy indoors. That way, we can all enjoy great tasting tomatoes any time of year.
Did we answer all your questions about growing during the winter? If not, ask us in the comments section below!