This panoramic view of one of the two growing rooms at Graddy’s Great Tasting Tomatoes shows the young plants that will produce hundreds of thousands of tomatoes this year.
This panoramic view of one of the two growing rooms at Graddy’s Great Tasting Tomatoes shows the young plants that will produce hundreds of thousands of tomatoes this year.
It feels and smells like spring this week at the Graddy's

tomato greenhouse on the northwest side of Carroll.

Owners John and Kay Gradoville and their family planted about 8,300 young tomato plants in long rows to start this year's growing season, which goes until late December.

The plants start about 1 foot tall but grow 8 inches each week at their peak. Workers trim each plant into one long vine that stretches about 38 feet by the end of the year.

The hydroponic tomatoes are nourished by a constant flow of water and fertilizer - they do not grow in normal soil.

The Gradovilles use bumblebees to pollinate the plants. About 200 of them are in flight at any given time during the day in each of the greenhouse's two giant growing rooms.

The greenhouse produces about 750,000 tomatoes each year, which are sold in Hy-Vee Food Stores in several Iowa and Nebraska cities and Dahl's Foods in Des Moines.

Kay and her oldest son, Ben, lead the year-round sales of fresh salsa - that comes in mild, medium, hot and black bean and corn. Ben Gradoville added another chip-dipper last year: a bruchetta of his own creation.

The Gradovilles are Carroll natives and Kuemper Catholic High School graduates. They have owned the greenhouse since 1999.