- Vegetables by Name
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from the uks largest single glasshouse
British Sugar’s award-winning horticulture business produces around 140 million ‘eco-friendly’ tomatoes each year at Cornerways Nursery.
A quarter of a million plants are grown in the UK’s largest single tomato glasshouse, which covers an area of 18 hectares. The fruit are harvested between February and November.
All the produce is packed on-site in a modern packhouse, minimising handling and transport and allowing produce to be despatched for supermarket shelves directly from the nursery.
Over 8,500 bumblebees, living in 170 bee hives, pollinate the crop and are part of the nursery’s integrated approach to crop management using natural agents and predators in preference to agro-chemicals.
Cornerways Nursery benefits from its location close to the Wissington sugar factory. More than two hundred and forty miles of piping carries hot water from the factory’s Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant around the glasshouse, to maintain the balmy temperatures which suit tomato plants. This hot water would otherwise be destined for cooling towers, so the scheme ensures that the heat is used productively.
Another benefit is the productive use of waste carbon dioxide from the sugar factory, which tomatoes use during photosynthesis. At Cornerways, carbon dioxide (a by-product from the CHP boiler) is pumped into the enormous glasshouse to be absorbed by the plants, rather than vented into the atmosphere as waste emissions.
The site also harvests the rainwater from the giant glasshouse roof; over 115 million litres are collected annually to irrigate the plants.
What is grafting?
The young plants that come to us have all been grafted. Grafting is simply cutting the head of a tomato plant with nice tasting fruit and sticking it on top of another tomato plant with strong roots (see photo). We do this because some of our best tasting tomato varieties do not have strong roots and by grafting them on to a strong root stock we can increase the amount of delicious fruit the plant grows.