Greenhouse peppers are available all year round. However, the supply is slightly more limited from November to mid-April. Most farmers plant pepper plants in their greenhouses in December. The first harvest is in late March and the final harvest is in November. Then, the greenhouses are cleaned, so the cycle can be repeated in December.
In the greenhouse, pepper plants are not planted in soil but in so-called substrate. Commonly used substrates are rock wool, coconut fibre, clay, peat pellets and peat bales. Pepper plants can root well in these substrates. The grower is able to provide the exact amount of water and nutrients needed by the plant for optimal growth. Excess water and nutrients are collected and re-used. The biggest advantage for cultivating on substrate is the fact that a substrate does not contain germs. And the substrate can be re-used after cultivation for a subsequent crop, or recycled.
To allow the plants to grow undisturbed, growing conditions in the greenhouse are kept as optimal as possible. To this end, a climate computer is often used. This computer allows for the ideal climate around and under the plant. Temperature, humidity and watering at the roots are regulated to create these optimal conditions.
Pepper plants can grow up to 3 to 4 meters tall. The first flower of the plant, which appears in January, is usually removed since it will form an irregular fruit. On each plant, several flowers bloom simultaneously so that each plant bears more than one fruit at a time. In one year, about sixty peppers grow on a single plant.
Taking care of the plants is done by hand. Every day, employees of the farm cut off the ripe fruit by hand. These are then carefully placed in large trays to prevent damage to the peppers. After picking, the peppers are sorted by quality, size and weight and packaged according to the specifications of the supermarkets.
In the greenhouse, the pepper farmer makes sure that nature is kept in balance. Pests are controlled by their natural predators, an insect the farmer releases into the greenhouse. This means that all kinds of critters find it their ideal habitat: from mites and ladybirds to wagtails, all building their nests here. The greenhouse is therefore not only a paradise for the pepper, but for many critters as well. All this to keep the pepper in optimal health and protect the crop in a natural way (ladybirds eat lice and wagtails eat caterpillars).
The result of this meticulous pepper cultivation is beautiful, healthy, shiny peppers. And because no pesticides are used, you barely need to wash them in the kitchen.