Slovenia is currently one of the smallest horticultural producers in the EU, but the growers at the greenhouses of Lust have just completed a two hectare expansion plan, bringing their greenhouses to six hectare in total.
Based in Renkovci, in the country’s north-eastern Prekmurje region, Lust planted their new crop in two days last week and with mild weather conditions bringing warmer unseasonal temperatures, head grower Martin Zigo, hopes they might start picking by the end of March.
He admits however, that organizing their own logistics added some unnecessary stress to the situation, as the variety they grow (‘Brilliant’ TOVs - by De Ruiter) are propagated in the Netherlands and required four and half trucks to deliver them to the greenhouse in Slovenia.
“I was sorry a little bit that I organized transport [myself] because it was a lot of calls and a lot of unnecessary stress I didn’t need,” he said.
“They were 15 hours on the truck so they were a little bit exhausted when we got them, but we transplanted them in the same day and we did everything that we could do in that time for the plants,” said Martin.
Like the previous installation, the new greenhouse predominantly uses a geothermal heating system with a boiler for emergency back-up in colder weather, and they will continue growing on Dutch Plantin cocopeat slabs, which in Martin’s opinion creates a better plant.
“With cocopeat it is not so vegetative, it is more generative and the roots are growing quite well in it. It’s also organic material which for us a very big point, especially at the end of the season. We don’t need to pay to remove it, we can sell it even.”
“I think the results with rockwool and coco[peat] are the same, in some ways it’s even better in the coco,” he said. This year Lust also opted to propagate their young plants on coir blocks by the Dutch plant raiser.
As well as Brilliant, Lust are also trialing 30 other tomato varieties in different sizes in a bid to see what will be in demand, and learn more about their surrounding markets in neighbouring countries.
With the Slovenian government keen to reduce vegetable imports and increase the country’s self-sufficiency by 2020, a progressive firm like Lust could make a significant contribution to this objective, and Martin says they are keen to use the native workforce.
“Our experienced workers started this season on the six hectare and then we will get new personal when we start harvesting the tomatoes. And we use local people to work with us. We want to work in the local environment with local people,” he concludes.
Dutch Plantin Coir India Pvt Ltd