Technology Lets NC Man To Grow Tomatoes In Winter


“When we’re done, we might be pulling vines 30 feet long out of here,” Ryan Patterson said. “It’s amazing how big they can grow.”

Along one edge, a stand of eggplant enjoy the winter as well. But they are not for consumption. These plants are for pest control.

“There’s a real threat from greenhouse whitefly,” Ryan Patterson said. “I know it sounds strange in winter, but whiteflies are a real problem. Fortunately, they like eggplant more than tomatoes.

“So, we treat the eggplant bushes to take care of them. That allows us to be pesticide free with the tomatoes.”

A series of pipes connect the greenhouse to its heat source, the flatbed boiler. Capable of producing 3.5 million BTUs of energy, it purrs along even in the most frigid weather. In time, it can help protect another greenhouse of young tobacco plants nearby as they grow into the spring.

“The unit was built to heat 19 tobacco barns up to about 200 degrees,” Phil Patterson said. “It won’t break a sweat keeping this place warm.”

Sensors and electronic connectors allow the machine to feed itself as needed. The colder the weather, the more it eats. Still, heating that once required 375 gallons of LP gas can now be done for about $60 worth of crunched-up pallets and produce boxes.

“We get the fuel from a guy who crushes up discarded wood into pellets,” Ryan Patterson said. “If it wasn’t for him, that would all be going into the landfill somewhere.

“Now, it’s being recycled as fuel for heat.”

And for keeping a green dream world warm in the dead of winter.

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Posted by on Mar 1st, 2014 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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