Winter Tomatoes

I wonder how much we need greenhouse tomatoes. Take a look at the tomatoes I picked from my garden on October 12, with a frost coming:

The Last Tomato Harvest of the Year

October 12, 2011

Here are the last of them, two and a half months later, after many sandwiches and tomato dishes:

Tomato Soup Waiting for Onions and a Pot

December 26, 2011, after 2 1/2 months in the basement. A little shrivelled and past their salad days, but soup and salsa, ah, that’s good too, right?

Greenhouse tomatoes are a minor agricultural crop in the Okanagan Valley and, as far as I know, not a crop at all in the Okanogan to the south. Maybe it will stay this way. They use a ridiculous amount of fossil fuels. According to the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, the crop cycle for greenhouse tomatoes goes like this: Planting, November; Harvest, March through October. That gives, I suspect, 7 or 8 months of heating. If we did it right, however, we could have a solid late crop of tomatoes in mid-October (of better quality than mine above) and eat them through January. The costs for refrigeration or heating would be zero. Even if only half of the crop was grown in this fashion, we could reduce our heating costs by 50% — a huge savings on greenhouse gas emissions.

To heck with ethanol fuel processing plants. The future starts with tomatoes.

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