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Latvijas siltumnīcās ienāk gurķu, tomātu un salātu raža

Tomatoes and cucumbers keep growing throughout winter

Despite the darkness and cold, cucumber, tomato, and lettuce yields come from Latvian greenhouses continuously during winter. How can it all be grown in our latitudes, and how is heating provided in greenhouses while trying to reduce heating costs?

Latvian Television visited several greenhouses January 9 to see how they are coping. The dark period of the year has been well spent in greenhouses in Latvia. Cucumbers and tomatoes grow. In Getliņi, for example, tomatoes were planted on August 22 and will grow until the summer of this year.

Gettins Eko greenhouse manager Guntars Strauts said: "Absolutely all cucumbers are grown under LED lighting. This year, thanks to support from Rural Support Service, we're putting 50% LED lighting on tomatoes. This means we keep electricity consumption the same, but the lighting will be twice as high and it will be easier for the plant to survive the dark period."

One tomato plant grows in a greenhouse for about eight months.

Strauts said: "If we remove the lower cucumbers or tomatoes, we drag the plant down so the top grows up all the time. For tomatoes, the average tip grows 25 to 30 centimetres per week, for cucumber 50 to 70 centimetres per week."

To yield harvest, tomatoes are pollinated by bumblebees. "The bumblebee house contains specialty sugar syrup as the tomato plant does not produce nectar, only produces the pollen. Sugar syrup is drink and food for them," Strauts said.

The adjacent landfill provides heat in Getliņi. Meanwhile, Mārupe greenhouses calculate at what point to heat. Heating costs are more pleasant this winter season than in the previous winter.

Maruta Kravale, board chairwoman of Mārupe Greenhouse, said: “We have a chip boiler that we use and then watch it, We use biogas heat. We take all the old leaves, those that are no longer needed, off and return them to the biogas station. The biogas station, also using our leaves, produces electricity and heat, and the heat is returned to us again."

Cucumbers grow about 7-8 leaves per week. The old leaves are removed. Currently, cucumbers grow on 2 hectares in Marupe. Tomatoes will be planted in February when there will be more natural lighting. There's also some news – the first lettuce was sown in the newly built greenhouse.

Kravale said: "It definitely takes light in winter. As you can see, there is a different lighting here than there is for cucumbers. There's LED lighting here. More economical. Need heat, need moisture, need nutrients. If the cucumber from flower to fruit is 10-13 days, then the lettuce will grow for 45 days in winter, 30 days in summer."

Mārupe greenhouse manager said it was planned to grow about two million lettuce plants within a year.

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