The Roman Emperor Tiberius recognised the advantages of greenhouse food production in the first century CE. He ordered the growing of off-season cucumbers under transparent stone.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why Guyra, isn’t it too cold for tomatoes?
Guyra was chosen as the site for Australia’s largest glasshouses for a number of reasons. The first reason is the climate. Situated in the Northern table lands of NSW, Guyra has the mildest summers of any town in Australia with, on average, only two days a year of 30 degrees and over, and very high light levels in both summer and winter. This makes it perfect for growing tomatoes as it is much easier and more efficient to heat a glasshouse than it is to cool one, and the more light the tomato plant gets the more flavour the fruit gets. Tomatoes also prefer milder temperatures, with anything over 28 degrees having a negative effect on cell division within the tomato, decreasing yield and quality. Guyra also has an abundance of clean mountain spring water, ideal for a healthy plant and ripe and juicy tomatoes.
Another reason Guyra was chosen was the support we received from both the Guyra council and the local community. Blush tomatoes take enormous pride in the fact we have built our glasshouses in a rural community, providing employment and an entirely new industry into what has traditionally been grazing country. return to top
- Are your tomatoes genetically modified?
No. The seeds we use are hybrids. This is true for almost all commercial varieties and is a way for seed companies to recoup the money they invest into research for new varieties that are resistant to pests and have stronger growth habits. We make sure that the seed companies’ breeding programs are all natural and that our tomatoes are definitely not genetically modified. return to top
- Are your tomatoes organic and, if not, what pesticides do you use?
There is a lot of confusion about what products are organic and what products are not. In a survey we did recently, we learned that many consider glass house tomatoes as organic. This is not true because we still have to use some pesticides to combat insects. However, we have implemented a program of introducing naturally occurring insects that combat tomato pests, without the use of chemicals. Unfortunately there is not a full arsenal for each pest that can affect tomato plants, so while we do not spray for some pests, we do for other pests. Because we would kill the beneficial insects if we would spray them with the harsh chemicals that other farmers might use, we choose our chemicals very carefully.
Because of the programs mentioned above, and the fact that the glasshouse prevents insects from getting to the plants in the first place, we have been able to reduce our chemical use by 90% compared to other growers. Because the technology of breeding natural enemies of tomato pests is rapidly improving, we can see a future of not using any pesticides at all. return to top
- What fertilisers do you use?
We use food grade fertilisers and we select our suppliers based on how food safe their fertilisers are. We are able to then provide our plants with the optimum ‘diet’ of nutrients so the plants grow healthy and the fruit tastes great. return to top
- Are your tomatoes grown hydroponically?
The answer to the question about whether our tomatoes are grown hydroponically depends on what you consider as hydroponically grown. Some people consider hydroponics as a system without growing medium where the roots are grown in water with nutrients. Others consider plants that are grown in a growing medium other than natural soil, as also hydroponics.
Our tomatoes are grown in a growing medium called coco peat. This is a by-product from the coconut industry that is recycled as a growing medium. The material is made from the husk of the coconut and has the same characteristics as peatmoss. The coco peat, as it is called, is great for growing tomatoes or any kinds of plants as it has a great capacity to hold nutrients but also retains oxygen. In this system, nutrients are still added to the feeding solution.
After use in our glasshouse, the coco peat is reused by a nursery to improve and enrich soils that are low in organic matter content so there is no waste.
Strictly speaking, hydroponics covers systems that use any growing medium other than soil, and therefore that would put our type of growing under hydroponics. Because we have met many people that thought hydroponics was flowing water, we thought we’d explain our perspective to you properly. return to top
- Where can I buy Blush Tomatoes?
Blush Tomatoes are available from selected quality purveyors of fine fresh foods. return to top
- I have been instructed by my doctor to eat more low acid tomatoes, are your tomatoes low acid?
Research has been done into the acidity of various tomato varieties, but very little difference was found. The best way to reduce acidity in tomatoes is to let them ripen on the vine, which is exactly what we do. Part of the reason our tomatoes taste good is because we only harvest them when they are ripe. This allows the natural sugars to develop fully, and reduce the acid. The best advice we can give is to only eat the ripest fruit and avoid orange or backward colour fruit.
With our truss tomatoes, the first fruit on the branch ripens first and then the next ones ripen progressively down the branch. So you would be wise to eat the first tomato before any others. As with anything, if problems occur, moderation is the best policy. return to top
- Why is it best to leave the tomatoes on the vine?
Truss tomatoes are grown in such a way that the tomatoes are left attached to the vine. This is a sort of quality control so that the consumer has a guarantee that all of our Blush premium truss tomatoes are left to ripen on the vine, maximising the flavour and juiciness in every tomato.
If you look closely at a truss tomato, they vary in ripeness between the top and the bottom tomato. The top tomato is the ripest and should therefore be eaten first, however all of the tomatoes should be left on the vine, as each tomato will continue to draw nutrients out of the vine, giving the tomatoes longer shelf life and more sugars as they ripen. It is therefore very important to treat the tomatoes carefully so as to keep them attached to the vine, maximising the eating qualities of our tomatoes. return to top
- How good are tomatoes for me?
Tomatoes contain calcium and Vitamin C, to name just two of their beneficial properties. A study done recently found that people in Northern Italy who ate seven or more servings of raw tomato per week had up to 60% less chance of developing colon, rectal, or stomach cancers compared to individuals who ate two servings or less. There are also indications that tomatoes may play a role in the prevention of heart disease, high cholesterol, and fatty deposits in the arteries.
The nutrient most responsible for these health benefits is lycopene. Lycopene provides the red colour to tomato products and is one of the major carotenoids in the diet of Europeans. Lycopene has been found to have an anti-oxidant effect on cells, decreasing the risk of a host of cancers, with prostate cancer being the most notable, and increasing evidence of a decrease in breast cancer.
However, whilst our tomatoes are good for you, we also endeavour to provide you with the best tasting tomato. A lot of people complain ‘why can’t the tasty things be good for you?’. We think we have changed this, so enjoy our tomatoes for the taste, whilst getting the nutrition and health benefits that tomatoes provide. return to top