Tons of Tomatoes
Have you ever planted a garden and maybe went a little overboard with the tomatoes? Maybe you had 12 healthy tomato plants, when all you really needed were 6? Well, imagine caring for 6,000 tomato plants at a time! That's how many tomato plants you'll find in the greenhouses at H & H farms. We took a trip in March to learn more about growing tomatoes in greenhouses.
Timm and Janell operate 8 greenhouses in north Boise. Most of this production space is dedicated to tomatoes, though they also grow English cucumbers. 3 of the greenhouses are solely for beefsteak tomatoes and 3 are solely for vine tomatoes. They employ 3-5 people during the growing season, to help with training the tomato plants to climb upward, trimming the plants when necessary, and harvesting tomatoes.
When the tomato plants are in full production, they are irrigated 14-16 times per day, and receive about 1 cup of water per feeding. This reduces water waste, since the plants are receiving exactly the amount of water that they need. The tomato plants are up to 30 feet long by the end of the growing season! Because they have more control over the growing climate, the tomato season is extended. You can find their tomatoes at the Co-op from April-November.
In 2016, Boise Co-op customers purchased over 6 tons of H & H tomatoes! That is more than 12,000 lbs! This total does not include the tomatoes used in the Deli, nor the 1,400 lbs of English cucumbers customers purchased.
Most of the greenhouses and other equipment were built by hand by Timm and his father over the years. The business was started 30 years ago, and they have been selling to the Co-op since then! H & H Farms is not certified organic, but they do not use any chemical pesticides (unlike many other greenhouses). We learned about some pretty cool pest control measures that they use, like parasitic bugs that eat mites!
Keep an eye out for H & H tomatoes and English cucumbers at a Boise Co-op near you!
H & H Snapshot
- Started by Timm's dad in 1987, selling to the Co-op for 30 years
- Timm & Janell took over production from Tim's dad in 1992
- 8 greenhouses, for a total of about 30,000 square feet
- They grow about 6,000 tomato plants at a time
- Plants grow up to 30 ft in length by the end of the growing season
- 780 tomato plants per house