Report on Permablitz #26 – Earth Wall build near Karangahake

After a false start the Sunday before, Permablitz #26 took off with a great bunch of people and perfect weather.

This was the second time we have blitzed Beccy Dove’s hillside garden. The first time was in 2015 when we re-invigorated an old orchard and planted lots more fruit trees plus we prepared the framework for our earth wall. Luckily this framework of vertical bamboo was still sound and just needed a bit of reinforcing to make a firm foundation for our wall.

We were lucky that Rose Tuffery was available for this blitz as she is heading to Costa Rica shortly to further her experience with earth-building. Before we got into it Rose showed us how she prepared test pieces using the local clays available and various proportions of the clay/paper pulp/sand/cement mix. Any earth walling project with good hat (roof) and boots (footing) doesn’t require cement but because Beccy’s wall is fully exposed to the elements we had to use cement. We had also had a trial run several weeks earlier so we were confident the mix would be suitable. A local Waitawheta Quarry clay was chosen and a locally sourced mixed grade sand.

Rose showing us how she prepared clay sample tests

We spent some time cladding the bamboo structure of the wall with chicken mesh and wiring this into place to make a solid foundation. Bottles and stacked rocks were used in places to show how various material can be incorporated into the structure.

Others prepared the paper pulp and sieved the larger rocks out of the clay. Following morning tea, we got into the fun part (all the kids scrambled to have a go), of foot wedging the pulp into the clay.

This activated clay pulp mix was then mixed with the sand and cement with water. It was all hands-on deck applying the clay to the wall with everyone getting a chance to try all of the stages of preparation and application.

Ailie’s first bucket of mix

The afternoon was spent applying the mix to the walls and then adding decorative pieces such as shells, stones, moulded shapes. Christine Burne from Waikino rose to the challenge to create a feature at the start of the walling. We all watched as a taniwha took shape from a pile of rocks.

This was a family affair with mother, son, Tony and grand-daughter all helping.

A delicious shared morning tea and lunch was enjoyed on Beccy’s terrace.

We completed both walls with one bucket of mix to spare. A happy bunch at the end of a successful day with beautiful Karangahake Mountain in the background.

 

 

 

 

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