By Rosemary Penwarden and Derek Onley
Last year's crop was a success. How do we measure success? Not by an
increase in GDP! Our wellbeing index has reached double digits and,
judging by the smiles and community atmosphere at the last Waitati
harvest market, we don't have to worry about futures trading
distorting our bottom line.
Last September we planted garlic on half of last year's potato patch
area. It was easy; all that hay, seaweed and pine needles had morphed
into beautiful rich humus. The garlic was courtesy of Dennis and
Tracey (Double Hill Rd), Maia (Seacliff) and Andy Barratt (Karitane).
Dennis has been experimenting with garlic for some years and selected
beautiful fat cloves, ideally suited to the Double Hill climate. (No,
we don't need GE!)
We laid seaweed between the rows to discourage weeds, but still needed
to weed three times over the growing period. One of our aims is to
keep the digging to a minimum, and we also want to keep to crops that
don't need much attention and that we don't have room for in our own
In October we put in more potatoes beside last year's patch, using the
same method as last year. We tried different varieties this year and
used more pine needles to try to combat wire worm. We put newspaper
between the rows and piled on more hay, seaweed and pine needles as
the shoots began to emerge. Everything got a healthy dose of coffee
grounds thanks to the staff of Fluid Espresso.
On the other half of last year's patch we tried onions and pumpkins.
Most of the onions were grown as seedlings in Jan's green house.
Derek's seedlings were a bit smaller and most got trampled by the
neighbour's ducks. Then it got cold. The onions didn't do much and the
pumpkins didn't do anything. It wasn't until February's belated summer
heat arrived that they finally started to swell. They have now reached
an acceptable size and I am looking forward to pumpkin soup and
pumpkin pies this winter.
As an afterthought we tossed some leeks and brassicas into the last
bit of last year's patch; the leeks look ok but the brassicas have got
a bit lost in the hay and don't appreciate the dry autumn.
In February we harvested the garlic, took it to Jan and Dave's garage
and spent a few evenings tidying it up and hanging it to dry through a
gate strung to the roof. Lynley used to grow garlic in Ashburton and
was a good source of allium wisdom, Jacky's competitive nature got the
better of her when she noticed the pool table, and Dave kept bringing
out wine. Still, we ended up with over 500 good-sized garlic bulbs.
Some were sold at the recent harvest market and we are each going to
save our best-looking cloves for sowing next season.
After the garlic we decided to try a green-crop and sowed a mixture of
lupin, oats, mustard and vetch. It hasn't grown well in the dry
weather, but then again neither have the weeds.
The first lot of this year's potatoes were harvested in early April.
Results are variable, with not as many big ones and unfortunately more
wire worm than last year. Before the compulsory
cup-of-tea/beer/refreshments, the potatoes were streamed: upper class
(not a single blemish), upper middle class (one or 2 spots), lower
middle/lower class (eat first) and untouchable (for the pigs). The
remaining potatoes will be harvested in the very near future and we'll
take note of which ones have grown the best to use again.
We have been offered funding by the Blueskin Resilient Communities
Trust to put a duck-proof fence around our community garden. We have
also been offered some land at Waititi Bush for developing, which is
some of the most fertile soil in the country, so we don't quite know
where we will be next year. The new site is close to the beautiful
Waititi Bush, so bush and garden could be tended together. But it is
certainly colder than Lynley and Frank's top paddock.
If you are interested in joining in we'd love to hear from you. Our
garden just happened. There was an idea and a bit of land, and plenty
of enthusiasm to keep out of the supermarket and eat fresh local
veggies instead. There has been absolutely no addition to GDP.
Rosemary and Derek, 482 2831
As Rosemary has reported above, the final harvest market for the year
was a great success. In fact, all three have been well supported by
both buyers and sellers – and even the odd barterer. The traditional
apple press provided fabulous freshly squeezed juice and the WEGie
coffers benefited accordingly. Our thanks to Mark and Rayna Dickson
for continuing to offer such a great venue for the market.
The big news on the WEGie front is a grant secured from the Lotteries
Commission by the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust for WEGie
projects (thanks hugely to Scott Willis and the team). A total of
$8000 will be spent on the Waitati Open Orchards (WOO) project, the
community garden, and WEGie work with local schools.
The WOO project aims to plant fruit trees and herbs in public areas
around the village so they can be accessed by members of the
community. Grant money will be used to purchase trees for three
community areas: Waitati School, beside Waitati River and on roadside
grass verges. There are also plans to run four workshops facilitated
by Jason Ross of Sutherland Nurseries, covering planting and pruning.
Funds will be used to fence the community garden to keep out ducks and
other intruders. Hay is also required so if you have some to sell we
would be pleased to hear from you.
The third part of the funding will go to assisting the three local
schools – Waitati, Warrington and Purakanui – with their gardening
projects over the next 12 months.
Lynnaire Johnston, 482 1364
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