From seed to sensationally sweet treat in 8 weeks
Only the very best looking and sweetest tomatoes in our greenhouse get to go through life as Honeytomatoes. Before they develop that deliciously sweet flavour, Honeytomatoes have already been on a big journey. Browse through the diary of a Honeytomato.
Costly seeds from France
Our Honeytomatoes are derived from the Piccolo variety, a cherry tomato. We obtain the costly Piccolo seeds from a seed breeder in France. Looye Kwekers has the rare good fortune to be one of the few growers in Europe licenced to work with Piccolo. Once the seeds have arrived from France, they are grown on by a specialist plant breeding company that gives them precisely the right conditions for germinating. When the young plants are exactly 55 days old, they leave for their final destination in the Looye Kwekers greenhouses.
Warm welcome in the nursery
As soon as the strong young plants arrive at our greenhouses, they are immediately tucked up in a rockwool slab, the ideal substrate for tomatoes. A water dripper supplies the plants with water and nutrients. The temperature in our greenhouses is about 21ºC, just the way the plants like it.
15 metres in 11 months
A tomato plant grows for about 11 months, during which time it can reach anything up to 15 metres in length. To make the best use of the available space, we get the plant growing horizontally. As soon as the young plant arrives in our greenhouse, we tie a string around the stem. The end of this string is attached to a wire system in the ridge of the greenhouse. After a few weeks the tomato plant reaches the wire. We then lower the string and hang it slightly to the side, so that the part of the plant from which the tomatoes have already been harvested hangs horizontally.
Each vine of Honeytomatoes starts life as a beautiful bunch of yellow flowers. The flowers are enormously attractive to the bumblebees in our greenhouses. These hairy friends do very important work for us as they pollinate all the flowers. And that signals the start of the magical eight-week process in which each set of flowers is transformed into a magnificent vine of beautiful red tomatoes.
A natural environment
In the eight weeks from flower to tomato, we give Mother Nature a helping hand wherever we can. And that can be hard work, as the growing tomatoes need a lot of care and attention. We keep twisting the string further and further round the constantly growing plant. And every week you’ll find our team hard at work cutting, pruning and pinching out. Everything that falls on the ground is left beneath the tomato plants – just as it would be in nature – because we firmly believe that this natural process makes the plants stronger and healthier.
Pruning to encourage growth
Every week our deleafers remove a number of leaves from the plants. This allows the tomatoes to absorb more sunlight and improves the circulation of air round the plant. We also pinch out all the side shoots we can find. This way, more nutrients and energy get to the main stem and more flavour gets to the tomato. While the vine is still little more than a nice collection of flowers, we also take off the bottom flowers. This way, all the Honeytomatoes will grow in a uniform shape and we can make sure each vine bears the same number of tomatoes.
Inspection, sampling and packaging
Only the most flavoursome and best looking tomatoes make it into the shops as Honeytomatoes. This means that every tomato first has to go through a rigorous inspection. We examine the tomatoes carefully and our taste panel takes samples to monitor the flavour. Because we are so strict, only a quarter of every harvest gets the coveted title of Honeytomatoes. The vines are then packed in stylish, tailor-made packaging that gives them maximum protection on their journey to the store.
Where to buy our tomatoes
The number of places where you can buy Honeytomatoes is growing all the time. They are not only sold in the Netherlands but in Germany and Belgium as well. You can find Honeytomatoes loose on the vine at specialist greengrocers and in luxury packs at higher-end supermarkets.