Potatoes win the day

HUHAThe last few years Otaki Hydroponics has done a potato competition for a charity. This year entry fees were donated to HUHA who do amazing work rescuing those less fortunate animals. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the entrants who took the time to enter our annual competition and support such a worthy cause. Thank you for turning up and showing the fruits of your labour. What an amazing morning we had last Saturday as we spent the morning harvesting potatoes. So many people came joking about the huge foliage and fretting about what could be underneath. You never know what is going to appear and some commented that even though they did the same thing this year as last, the results were very different. The huge variety of growing medium and methods of fertilizing the potatoes was truly interesting. The heaviest crop out did last year’s crop weighing in at a massive 3.11Kg - a tribute to Ron's homemade compost and seaweed based liquid feed. The largest potato at 350gm reflected the quality of our amazing Rok solid.
The Todd family - Nathan (left) grew the biggest childrens crop and the biggest crop in the family
It was truly a community feeling as we watched, cheered and supported each other during the harvests. At this time of year, when everyone is frantically trying to complete tasks before Christmas, it was lovely to take a moment and support each other with great humour. HUHA provided some amazing Hash brown sizzles - a fitting item for a potato competition I thought - and the most beautiful (and tasty) cupcakes I've ever seen. I was really nervous about how the event would go but in the end I really enjoyed the friendly rivalry between the growers and within families. The prize table was packed, and everyone went home with a prize. I must again give thanks to Devan Tanks who generously gave a 1000L water tank as a prize. Tui for sponsoring the potatoes and some of the items in the goody bags, PrimeHort for the pop up garden bags, kneelers, gloves, secateurs, Rake and sundry other items for the table. Colin at Revital also has my gratitude for the generous gifts of fertilizer and potting mix which ensured everyone took home something. Agrissentials supplied bags of Rok solid and to Autopot distributors for donating the Autopot prizes.

and the winner was ...

Ron Chatters with a massive crop of 3.11kg. He chose the 1000L Devan water Tank. The single biggest potato prize went to Dan Moselen who managed to grow a single potato of 350gm - a meal in itself. Dan attributes his potato's size to the use of Rok Solid. Nathan Todd had the biggest crop in the children’s category with a fine haul of 750gms. He also had the bragging rights for the biggest crop in his family. An awesome effort! We will carry on supporting HUHA by giving them an outlet to sell their “Pony poo” for a gold coin donation. A great addition to any compost pile – perhaps next letter I’ll do a feature on composting. Well done to everyone and hopefully we'll see you again next year.

Rain, Rain where are you?

It has now been 28 days in Otaki without rain. November had a total rainfall of 14mm, October had a total of 40mm. To put this into perspective we usually we get on average 187mm of rainfall for those 2 months. Everything is brown and it feels more like the end of January than the beginning of December. After the incredibly wet winter we had the, ground has dried to a crust. Every time we have rain forecast it doesn’t eventuate and seems to be a few days away again. When it finally does come, we need a gentle soaking rain, not it all in one dump. With the dry weather the Autopot self-watering systems are in a league of their own for those of us growing in pots. Everything is growing well here in the pots but if this continues, at some stage I’m going to have to ration the tank water to get us through. In our raised bed we have installed an Autopot Spyder watering system. This is designed for use in smaller gardens around 1.2m square and uses capillary tapes to spread the water to the ends of the bed. You can see how we installed it here. The one important thing I didn't mention on the video is that you need to ensure the Aquabox is level using the spirit level that comes with the kit. When I install this system again with established plants, I will place the plants first and then put the soil around the plants instead of putting the soil back first. If I was planting seeds this wouldn’t be an issue but I worried about disturbing the hidden tapes.

Heather’s Corner

This time of year can be challenging in the garden and even more so this year with the unusually dry conditions we are experiencing. If you have access to plenty of water, you are lucky and your garden will be doing well. Our biggest problem is whitefly. White fly is starting to appear and once that sets in it’s extremely hard to get rid of. They cluster on the undersides of the leaf so that’s where you need to spray. Our Solo spray bottles have an adjustable nozzle enabling easy spraying under the leaves. It sprays a nice fine mist too so it’s good on delicate plants. We’ve sprayed with Super Neem Oil and also sprinkled Neem Granules under each plant. Unfortunately it isn’t a one dose solution so keep at it; you’ll eventually win the battle. We’ve put together a lovely collection of Christmas gift ideas from stocking fillers upwards. Any gardener would be pleased to receive any of these gifts. If you’re looking for something for the gardeners in your life come in and we’ll help you find just the right thing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone, and if you are on the roads over this holiday period, drive safely.

Christmas Hours

Christmas is zooming upon us and I’m looking forward to some family time. We’ve had an amazing 6 months in the shop and I appreciate all the support we have had from our customers. I’m excited about the future projects we will be trying in the shop including a new green house, microgreens and a grow room. If you're still at a loss for gift ideas we have something for all gardeners We will be closing the store Christmas eve (Monday 24th) and between Christmas and New Year. Our last day open will be Saturday the 23rd of December : 9am to 4pm. We open again (9am-5pm) on Wednesday the 3rd of January for another year of fun and excitement.