Mr Richard Lewis is the General Manager Stubbins Marketing Limited who grow tomatoes for all of the UK and also a director of the British tomato growers association so is pretty knowledgable on growing tomatoes. We were delighted therefore when he kindly showed of us how they grow them at the huge greenhouses they have in Cardiff. Not only that but we also saw the bees and chickens at the nursery too.
If you have been to any of the major supermarkets you will recognise the Stubbins brand, they have several sites through the UK and in Spain too and concentrate on the quality end of the market. In Cardiff they grow specialty tomatoes, as well as cucumbers and ochre.
We are happy when our tomato plants in school grow about 1.5 m but Mr Lewis told us that at the end of the season the ones he showed us will be a massive 19m (the tallest giraffe ever recorded was just under 6m tall!)They are grown in a special coconut husk fibre that holds the water until the plant needs it. The water also has just the right amount of nutrients added at different parts of the season sometimes its calcium rich to help cell division.
They do not use nasty sprays or chemicals on the plant they control pests via biological methods.
Stubbins is very proud to be environmentally aware they collect the rainwater and use that to help water the plants. The CO2 gas produced by the heaters supplementing the sun is run along the base of the plants in special plastic tubes for the plants to absorb as part of PHOTOSYNTHESIS.
We also saw some bees flying around they were not particularly interested in us, they were just seeking out the flowers at the top of the plant. Mr Lewis showed us some of the tomato flowers and how they changed colour after the bee had visited it collecting the pollen. The bee collects the pollen onto his legs and flies off to the next flower to collect more but some of the old pollen brushes off on the new flower and that pollinates or fertilizes the flower which then grows into a lovely tomato. Green Gang had done lots of work on the importance of bees last year, so it was great to see them in action.
We then went to see the chickens in the garden of the main house, these were fed some of the spoilt crop of tomatoes. If the tomatoes are not perfect they get fed to the pigs on a local farm nothing is wasted. We loved feeding them, we had hatched some eggs into chicks last year but not seen the chickens themselves so this was a lovely
We want to say a huge thank you to Mr & Mrs Lewis for their kindness we had a very enjoyable trip and learnt a great deal too. We think they are fab!