During the winter months of December, January and February, most of us aren’t expecting to find ripe, juicy tomatoes abounding in the grocery store. But thanks to a recent boom in greenhouse growing, we might just be surprised at how tasty winter tomatoes can be.
According to a recent article on NPR’s The Salt blog, farmers from West Virginia to Maine are beginning to grow indoor tomatoes and vegetables to keep up with demand during the winter. And surprisingly, these indoor tomatoes are turning out just as delicious as the garden-grown summer variety.
Usually, when tomatoes are shipped long distances, they are harvested before they’re fully ripe, which compromises taste. The advantage of this new greenhouse system is that tomatoes are grown close to the cities where they are sold and eaten, therefore cutting down on travel time.
Vertical greenhouses are coming on the scene as well, with a new garden spot already in place at Chicagos O’Hare Airport. But how do these tomatoes grow indoors? Farmers are turning to hydroponic farming, which means plants are not grown in soil. The tomatoes get their nutrients and fertilizer from liquid solutions fed through irrigation hoses, which requires less water and land than traditional farming. Another advantage is less damage from bugs and less chemicals to control them.