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Ground Breaking Potato Patch


The Great Paekākāriki Potato Patch will be planted, in a community event followed by kai and merriment, on Saturday October 7.

It’s the first step in breaking ground for a new community garden, say organisers Paekākāriki Orchards and Gardens (POG), with the harvest to be shared amongst all who join in. POG’s long-term vision is for the village to be a place of food abundance, where no one needs to buy such easily grown items as plums, lemons or feijoas.

The patch, about 9m x 5m, is on the edge of sports fields at the northern end of Tilley Rd, where Te Ara o Whareroa cycleway enters QE Park. Potatoes were chosen as a first crop because they’re a common staple, and are relatively easy to grow. The plan is to create a huge organic no-dig bed, building some good soil as well as a crop of spuds. “The idea is to do something people can easily replicate at home,” says Stacey Gasson of POG.

 Black plastic has been laid down to knock the kikuyu grass back; once that’s lifted, as many roots as possible will be forked out and the area covered with brown cardboard. Next, about 400 seed potatoes will be laid out and covered with layers of rotted hay, fishmeal, seaweed and other fertilizers, tree lupin and wood chip.  Other than a little ‘earthing up’ as the plants get tall, there shouldn’t be much maintenance until the harvest in autumn – which will call for another party, hopefully with hot potatoes to share.

POG say they’re testing the waters a little with this enterprise, to see the level of interest within the community. The patch is just part of a longer strip of council- administered land between the campground and what’s known locally as the ‘horse track’, running between Tilley and Wellington Roads. There’s potentially space for large gardens and orchards, if community interest is there.

Great Potato Patch Planting

2.30pm, Saturday 7 October, followed by shared kai and merriment from 5pm. Tilley Rd Sportsfield, Paekākāriki.

Spuds with whakapapa: The potatoes being planted include heritage varieties from Setha’s Seeds in Hawke’s Bay. There will be a dozen different types, half of them Māori potatoes, known in general as riwai or taewa, including yellow, waxy Hua Karoro, floury Uwhi, and even some from the Chatham Islands.