Plantenkwekerij Vreugdenhil has been developing their picking vegetable plants for 10 years now. These will be marketed under the name Pick&Joy. The range has seen significant development over the years: the range has extended and the numbers have increased. However, it has been said about Vreugdenhil that the varieties have been a bit left behind. For large developers, the picking vegetables sector is too small, says Jan van Heist from the nursery. We have seen the need to improve the varieties. The nursery took on an experienced developer a few years ago and set aside part of the business as a testing ground.
In the meantime, Plantenkwekerij Vreugdenhil has gained cultivation rights for 2 varieties of picking tomatoes and a compact red pepper with smaller fruit. In the development stage, uniformity, the number of fruits on the plant, leaf quality and taste were key issues. "A really different approach then to production varieties," confirmed Van Heijst. "In this way, we can make improvements in the whole chain." This week, the first plum tomatoes are available. The business is also working on a mildew resistant hybrid. This has now been included in the range for testing purposes. "There are direct parts of a few thousand plants, which are included in cultivation. Then we can see if they are fit for purpose."
The reason that Vreugdenhil has concentrated on the development of snack vegetables is to do with the popularity of snack vegetables. "When we began with this, no-one was interested. It is not horticulture and not floriculture and no-one knew what to do with it. Now picking vegetables have a definite place in the chain - a special section in the garden centre." And Van Heijst doesn't expect that to change. "There is a lot more interest in growing and harvesting your own fruit and vegetables, but a consumer with a balcony or patio doesn't grow their own plants. They buy them every year. We expect that not to change."