Growing is a business and a passion
For Eddie and Lyn Paul growing is not just a passion but a serious business, which they make a successful living from. They have been growing tomatoes in their glasshouse since 1990. Their property is situated in Te Puna, which is not far from Tauranga. Te Puna is well known for Avocado and Kiwifruit orchards.
The Paul’s have a glass house and plastic house, they grow 3000 plants a year between the two houses. The glass house is used for the summer production and plastic house is used for winter production. The plastic house is heated using a woodchip burner. The woodchip burner has proven to be a real success. It uses small pallets, which only needs to have the hopper topped up once or twice a week. It is a clean and friendly product to handle.
In the early years Eddie and Lyn sold their tomatoes via the auction system, now nearly 100% of their produce is sold in the local farmers market. When they first started growing, they grew a standard large, loose, round variety, as they started to sell more produce at the farmers market they started diversifying, growing and marketing cherry, cocktail and low acid tomato varieties. Today they also grow a large ‘plum’ tomato variety that has a large flesh content, perfect for sandwiches. There are also two types of cucumbers, eggplants and capsicum grown to add variety to their market stall.
Ed and Lyn take their produce to the farmers markets where it is in high demand! (photo courtesy Jamie Troughton)
Like many growers’, Eddie and Lyn began growing tomatoes in soil and over the years changed to growing in bags of pumice or sawdust, finally changing to stone-wool slabs 18 years ago. They have a strict routine, which includes daily checks of the EC and PH that goes on and off the slabs and measuring runoff %. With so many varieties, in one growing area, it is difficult to grow everything exactly how it needs to, however, by managing each variety with fruit loading and de-leafing this has made it possible to get close to optimal production from their plants.
(Cover photo supplied by professional photographer Jamie Troughton)
The taste of the tomatoes grown by Eddie and Lyn is second to none. The cherry tomatoes, which are grown extremely generative, have a delicious, mouth bursting flavour. I could just sit in their greenhouse all day eating them off the truss. They have excellent knowledge and understanding of how to control their plants to achieve high flavour/brix content. Another advantage they have is they only pick their fruit when it is fully coloured. There is a lot less damage when you only touch the fruit once before the customer receives it. Lyn and Ed have outstanding growing knowledge, they are always eager to source information, either from advisors or from suppliers to keep improving. Even today they keep asking questions and are willing to keep learning and improving. This attitude and willingness to keep getting better is very impressive.
Ed has recently had to go through treatment for Cancer. Both Ed and Lyn decided that they would have to slow down and possibly retire. Thankfully Ed is now in remission and is feeling much better. The retirement plans have been put on hold and both greenhouses are back to full capacity. Such is their passion and enjoyment they get from growing and selling their produce at the market they are still not willing to give it up and retire. They had planned to retire when they got to 70 but that is now being put on hold until they turn 80!
The markets are a place to sell their produce but it is also a social outing for the Paul’s. They love spending time with their customers and educating people about the growing process. They are both fantastic ambassadors for the tomato industry. Lyn has been quoted “Why do we do it? We should be retired but it fills the day in. You’ve got to have some purpose to get up in the morning”. Earlier this year Lyn attended the TomatoNZ conference held in Christchurch where she was suitably impressed with the technological advances being made in the industry, she just wishes she was young and starting again so she could try them.
Delisious truss ripened tomatoes that Ed and Lyn pride themselves on. (photo courtesy Jamie Troughton)
This immature cherry tomato crop planted recently is difficult to balance this time of the year. This is an example of the skill Ed and Lyn have grow a balanced plant, with sufficient power to cope with the summer conditions
Photos supplied by Jamie Troughton. Contact Jamie:
Phone: 027 274 3559
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Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower