Inside an Ontario vegetable greenhouse

BLhavBBCIAEfxa-.jpg largeOntario greenhouse vegetables – specifically cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers – are one of our largest local produce crops and one that we an enjoy almost all year round.

Most of the vegetable greenhouses are centered in the Leamington and Niagara areas.

Earlier this spring I was able to tour one of these operations Flamborough area : Beverly Greenhouses, where brothers Jan and Dale VanderHout grow 22 acres of English cucumbers.

We were part of an annual food media tour hosted by Farm & Food Care.

During our visit, Jan fielded in-depth questions on everything from pest control, plant genetics and water use to the farm’s work force and how and where the cucumber crop is marketed.

Participants were particularly impressed by his operation’s innovative approaches to pest control – like using ornamental pepper plants as a food source for the minute pirate bugs (Orius) that help control thrips in the greenhouse.

Here are some photos of the day’s visit:

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Acres of English cucumber plants grow under glass.

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Jan VanderHout speaks to food writers and bloggers in his greenhouse.

for web IMG_2944 Ornamental pepper and other plants grow above the cucumber crop in the green house as a food source for the “good bugs” VanderHout has in his greenhouse to combat pests. The farm uses very little if any pesticides.

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The plants grow in natural materials. Water, nutrients and temperature are carefully monitored to make sure the plants have the best possible growing conditions.

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Carts of bins are brought into the greenhouse to harvest cucumbers that are ready for market.

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The carts run down the aisles between the rows of plants so workers can pick the ready vegetables.

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The VanderHouts use natural pest control methods. Here you can see a packet of “good bugs” attached to a cucumber plant.

for web IMG_2999 Cucumbers growing on the vine.

for web IMG_3011Harvested cucumbers ready to go on the packing line.

for web IMG_3018 Cucumbers are shrink wrapped and stickered before being boxed and ready for shipment to supermarkets in Canada and the United States.

You can learn more about Ontario greenhouse veggies, as well as accessing recipes, by visiting www.ontariogreenhouse.com. You can also take your own albeit virtual tour of an Ontario greenhouse at www.farmissues.com/virtualTour/en/vegetables/index.html

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