That, in a nutshell, is the focus of the Florek family farm in Busko-Zdrój. In the Venlo greenhouse, brothers Krzysztof and Dariusz concentrate on cultivating raspberry tomato. The remaining area is filled with tomatoes from other segments, and wart and salad cucumbers. The high demand for the product in the surrounding area results from the brand of fruit valued for their taste and developed over the years in this 1.5-hectare farm.
Selection of varieties and cultivation
The leading variety at this farm, which, according to the brothers, is currently irreplaceable, is the raspberry tomato Tomimaru Muchoo (De Ruiter). The assortment also includes plum-shaped Romanella (Syngenta) and red large-fruited Beef Bang (HM.Clause). The selection of varieties made by the producers was aimed to suit the tastes of the majority of customers, and at the same time, it does not differ from the standard yield of other varieties. Double-stem tomato seedlings, grafted on a Maxifort substrate, come from the Mularski Group. In the first decade of January, they are planted on mats, and roughly after three weeks, transferred to the substrate holes. From every second plant, an additional shoot was led out (on a string of another color) from under the third cluster during flowering. There, the clusters are usually reduced to three fruits. In the case of flesh tomatoes, the clusters are not reduced, but systematically collected so that they are of different sizes and thus aimed at different customers. This year, raspberry tomato plants began flowering on January 21, and the first harvest was collected on March 30. The fruits of the remaining varieties mature a few days later. Exceptionally, regulation of the number of fruits due to the low activity of bumblebees would be made a bit later, only when the buds appear.
On one third of the greenhouse area, in the first half of the year, wart cucumber Mirabelle and smooth Quintus are cultivated. This year, the former completely replaced the well-known Pacto variety. The ungrafted seedlings of these varieties were immediately transferred to the substrate holes on January 15. During the first weeks, long-lasting light deficiencies forced the growers to remove buds in seven nodes. The following 11 were left with a single, larger fruit. The cucumbers were capped on February 11, and the first fruits were harvested three days later. From the last three nodes, three side shoots were led out, and capped over the second node. Second-order shoots were capped at the first node.
Subsequent batches of the Tomimaru Muchoo tomato are added to the still fruiting tomatoes (their cultivation lasts until about mid-June). These are growing on their own root system. According to the growers, the use of substrates is unnecessary in such a short cycle (planting usually falls in the second decade of June).
For many years, the growers have been cultivating greenhouse vegetables on coconut substrates. They think that the organic substrate, despite its disadvantages, such as the difficulty in maintaining the optimum level of fertilization for plants, has also many advantages. These include the beneficial effect on the taste of the fruit produced, and the lack of environmental impact after cultivation, due to its natural character. But it can also color the roots of plants slightly brown, which is usually associated with their poor condition, resulting from improper water and air conditions. This year, they decided to change the cultivation mats. Instead of pressed mats that swell during watering, they’ve ordered mats that are already prepared for cultivation.
At the initial stage of production, they didn’t observe any negative effects of this substrate on the vegetables. To help the root system of plants, Trichoderma fungi were applied to limit the occurrence of diseases. The real test is how they behave under difficult microclimate conditions prevailing in the greenhouse. But during the hot beginning of June, the substrate passed the test.
The introduction of broadly understood biological protection as a remedy for pests is the standard at the Florek brothers’ farm. The basis for success in the application of this method is, in the opinion of the growers, systematic application and insightful, constant monitoring. Preparations with entomophages and with aliments suitable for them come from Biobest, Koppert and Royal Brinkman. Those used to combat undesirable "guests" include the predatory Phytoseiulus persimilis mite, the Macrolophus pygmaeus bug, and parasitic Digylphus isaea wasp. Some of the leaves removed during vegetative mass regulation are left to form a hatching place and allow natural allies to grow on the cultivated plants. In addition, they provide carbon dioxide when drying, and increase the humidity, reducing the risk of dry rot on the tomato fruit (to which the Tomimaru Muchoo variety is relatively sensitive).