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Small-scale grower knows her onions

Small scale onion grower Abbey Van der Lann in her field of onions on Ngaumutawa Road, Masterton. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN
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Eight months ago, in a 2000m2 paddock on Ngaumutawa Rd, Abbey Van der Lann planted 17,000 onion bulbs for their seeds, soon to be harvested.

The 29-year-old has worked in horticulture for 10 years mainly at Greenway Farms.

She had the opportunity to plant up a paddock and make some money independently.

Van der Lann planted 50 rows and has two beehives on the plot to fertilise the plants.

“I should be getting about 40kg of seed,” Van der Lann said.

“It is already purchased. Yes, you can grow crops in a small area on the edges of town.

“You can do it on a small block but need access to a reliable and affordable water source.

“They don’t like wet feet or mildew. The mildew kills patches of the plant. It also affects the quality of the plant. Wairarapa is ideal for onions.”

Van der Lann plants a variety that isn’t vulnerable to thrips [insects], which suck the moisture out of the plants.

“I do need to spray fungicides, but it has been a good season and I will be harvesting in the next three weeks and the seed goes off to South Pacific Seeds. I’m happy with it,” she said.

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