All posts by marcoandteresa

Permablitz #28

From Scratch Permablitz, Katikati

Saturday 31st March 2018, 9am – 4pm
Location: Katikati, register to find out where

We are starting from scratch on a newly established, beautiful one-acre riverside site just south of Katikati.

This is an opportunity to be involved in the very early stages of planning and implementing a Permaculture garden. Trish Waugh will talk about the Living Design Process which has been used here to make some initial decisions about the development of the land.

Our hosts are excited about sharing their piece of paradise with like-minded people and invite participants to stay on after the blitz for a shared dinner, swim in the river and to stay the night if you bring your own tent.

During the course of the day we will be focusing on how to;

  • Construct a ponga wall
  • Set up a fenced chicken run
  • How to site and plant fruit trees
  • How to build a compost bin and make hot compost
  • And lots more

We have some great workshops lined up and there may be special Easter activities for children (and adults) if anyone is keen.

This is a large area, we have room for up to 40 people.

Our hosts will provide hot and cold drinks, morning tea and a vegetarian lunch. If you would like to stay for dinner, please bring something to share.

What to bring:
-Both Rubber gloves (for handling the mix) and other sturdy gardening gloves
-Gardening tools (labelled with your name) – spade or shovel, wire cutters, wheelbarrow.
-Water bottle
-Hat and sun protection and wet weather gear

To  register, fill out the form below. Your details will be emailed to the hosts who will contact you with further details on how to get there. Thank you!



Report on Permablitz # 27 – Tauranga Suburban half-day Permablitz

Permablitz BOP is firing up again! On Saturday 9th December 2017 we held the first mini permablitz on Julia Sich’s 870 sm property on Chadwick Road in Greerton, Tauranga.

This mini-blitz was a small group of ten people coming together, bringing a shared lunch, for half a day.  We got tons done, met some lovely new people and learned about Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language, double digging, grape pruning and wicking bed construction.

The design team of Cath Goodrick, Nicole Buhrs, Julia Sich, headed by Sharon Watt met late November to start the process of planning the blitz and scoping out the section.  During the week before the blitz Nicole and Cath had to pull out due to unexpected accidents.  Help!! A distress email for additional support drew in Catherine Dunton-McLeod, with her permaculture knowledge and superb organisational skills.

The day of the blitz dawned with blue sky and sunshine, thank goodness – organisers are always a bit nervous about the weather the day of a blitz.

Sharon welcomed everyone, Julia gave the history and an overview of the property, and Catherine Dunton-McLeod led a permaculture exercise in Pattern Language.

This began with her reading Julia’s statement of purpose for her piece of paradise as follows:

“Abundance, surprises and a wow factor pervade this garden of aliveness, harmony and colour, which is easy to care for, a haven for wildlife and an inspiration to others.”

A short encapsulation of the homeowner’s desire for the property like this is critical for a good permaculture design and a successful blitz, and is unfortunately a step that often gets skipped.  Catherine explained that this sentence would inform everything we did that day on the property.

Catherine then took the group out to the road, to the start of the longish driveway, to get a feel of the property from the beginning and to start to view it as a set of “rooms “. (This is straight out of Christopher Alexander’s books: A Pattern Language and A Timeless Way of Building.  Read them!!)  Just like in a house, a property can have “rooms” with specific functions. Standing at the start of the driveway we identified a “room” we called “entrance off the street.”  Julia’s entrance off the street is functional, but does not yet express her statement of purpose – There was little sense of abundance, surprise or aliveness in this room!   There was however a big brown concrete wall that we imagined could have a fantastic colourful mural painted on it bringing in those missing elements.  As we walked back up the drive, we experienced two more rooms we decided to call – “getting to Julia’s house” and  “arriving at Julia’s house.” We had a good time observing and feeling our way through these “rooms” and this showed up areas for future development.

Heading to the backyard, work got underway to dig over the four remaining garden beds that had been covered in carpet to kill the kikuyu. The garden beds were marked with lines and the paths and beds prepared.

Lora Scully led a workshop on how to double dig a garden bed. 

Edging was put around almost all the vegetable garden by the end of the day, leaving about a quarter for Julia to finish.

The greenhouse was erected.

Before lunch, Catherine led a workshop on how to set up a wicking bed.  Some variation of a wicking bed design is a fantastic solution to keep plants happy in a dry summer, especially if you are away for weeks at a time.  Google “wicking beds” to find out more design possibilities.  What we did was to use a 200 litre plastic barrel from the recycle container place in Greerton, cut in half.  The bottom of the barrel acts as a water reservoir and is filled with a Nova flow drainage pipe inserted in a muslin sleeve (to prevent the sand clogging the holes). This pipe was coiled in the bottom of the barrel and sand poured on top up to the level of the outlet pipe.  Another pipe is inserted into the Nova flow pipe to be able to fill the bottom with water. Then a layer of weed mat is placed over the sand and the barrel filled with compost ready to plant.  Catherine suggested that several wicking beds could be set up one under another for a cascade effect. 

The finished wicking barrel with a plant under the outflow. The reservoir in this wicking bed should hold about 30 litres of water and can keep it’s plants moist for weeks.

The combined food that people brought along made for a wonderful sustaining, nourishing lunch.  Relaxing over the break allowed the chance to chat amongst fellow blitzers and network.
Other tasks completed during the morning were grape pruning led by Julia.  Val took on the huge job of clearing fern, alstromeria and stones from around a concrete bordered bed near the worm farms. Shade was also erected for the worm farm area.

Two wooden posts were concreted in between the house and the hedge to form the basis of a fence and gate that would enclose the garden, act as a wind break, provide privacy, and to make it clear when arriving at the property which door visitors should go to.
In the following two days after the blitz ,John, Julia’s brother from Australia, along with Julia built the gate.

A huge thank you to all those who participated and to the design team, Sharon who took the photos, Catherine and Lora for leading workshops and the many hands that made light work!  Below a view of the garden after the blitz.  Woo Hoo!  Thank you Permablitz!  Let’s have another Blitz soon!!!

Compare this with the before shot of the same area. WOW!


Permablitz # 27

Tauranga Suburban Half Day Permablitz

Saturday 9th December 2017, 9.30am – 1.30pm
Location: Greerton, Tauranga register to find out more

We are developing a vegetable garden and food forest at a suburban home in Tauranga. The large section is flat and north facing.

This will be the first of two or three half-day Permablitzes at this location with a smaller number of people than is typical for a Permablitz (around 10 people).

Possible tasks include: preparing vegetable beds, erect greenhouse, construct gate and fence for wind shelter, plant trees, construct shade for worm farms, organise garage shelves and tool storage area, paint and line strawberry boxes.

Possible workshops will be: air layering plants, double digging, edible weeds, perennial vegetables, bokashi.

Anyone is welcome to teach a short workshop on a sustainable living concept so if you have any special skills that will contribute to the learning of the participants please mention this at registration.

We will have a shared pot luck lunch. The host will provide morning tea.

Hope to see you there!

What to bring:

·       Sturdy Footwear
·       Gloves
·       Gardening tools (labelled with your name) – spade, fork, trowel, hammer
·       Water bottle
·       Hat and sun protection and wet weather gear
·       Food to share for lunch

Plants/seeds needed: Tagasaste seedlings, globe artichoke, sweet marjoram (not oregano), dill, wormwood, leek seedlings, Brussels sprout seedlings

Materials needed: something to act as a barrier against kikuyu, such as plastic edging or corrugated iron if anyone has any to spare

We also need someone with building skills to help construct a gate and short fence, so please mention if you have these skills at registration.

To register, fill out the form below. Your details will be emailed to the hosts who will contact you with further details on how to get there. Thank you!


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.





Update on Rachel & Kaine’s PB – 4 years on

Rachel & Kaine Smith from Katikati had two blitzes….check out the progress!

We recently visited Rachel & Kaines permaculture garden which was developed over two Permablitz’s, the first in September 2012 (permablitz #6) and the second September 2013 (permablitz #13). The site was a large town garden with a mature orange tree centred on the back lawn. The family are a busy couple with two young boys, Ollie and Finn, so Rachel & Kaine wanted a garden that would grow with their family’s needs.

The design included an enlarged deck off their kitchen with raised wicking beds close at hand.


An existing area of pebble was gathered up and reused in the bottom of the wicking beds.

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The children love to climb and play around the orange tree so an area of mulch was spread beneath and around the tree, to allow some productive under-planting.


Two existing raised vegetable gardens, much further away from the house, were also converted into wicking beds and filled with compost. The compost bin system was improved and many fruit trees were sited around the garden, including several espaliered pip fruit along the north facing fence.


The fruit tree area near the road was planted with Feijoas, a dwarf Peach, Lemonade and Mandarin. These were thoroughly mulched in the second blitz and inter-planted with other beneficial plants; several Gooseberries, Guava and wayward herbs such as Bergamot, Lemon Balm, Calendula, Marjoram & Nasturtium. A Lemon tree was planted opposite the front door so they can just pop out the door when they need a lemon.


On visiting recently, Rachel took great delight in showing me around her garden. Her enthusiasm was palpable and mirrored by her children who had been very involved in the blitzes right from the start.

The wicking beds near the house have been a great success, the far one now used for strawberries, the closer two connected with a plank off the deck for super- efficient harvesting. The only glitch has been with the nearest bed which was installed slightly off level, making the top end a lot drier than the bottom end. It has meant choosing hardier, drought tolerant plants for the dry end, so herbs have worked well here. They need watering once a week over summer which could have been reduced if they had been constructed a little deeper but overall the wicking beds have been very worthwhile.


The two older beds in the far corner are a lot more productive now also with a reliable water supply from the wicking system which hardly ever needs filling. They are used for longer term vegetables that don’t need regular tending.


The area adjacent is used to store materials such as horse, cow and chicken manure, seaweed, mulch, sawdust, grass clippings, (green waste for nitrogen and browns for carbon). These are added in layers to build a compost in the wicking beds when the soil is replaced once a year.

The area beneath the Orange tree is still used a lot by the boys so any planting here will have to wait. It proved too shady for Pumpkins but we have recommended trying Native Spinach as this should thrive in the dry semi-shade.


Of the espaliered fruit trees on a north facing fence the Apples have been really productive already but the Pear has yet to flower. Rachel plans to interplant with a Nashi Pear as well.


Rachel said “I knew nothing about gardening when we bought this property and I learnt largely by trial and error until getting involved in the Permablitz’s. I have learnt so much”.

Kaine said “The Permablitz’s were a positive experience. Being a kindergarten teacher the importance of our children seeing and being involved in the whole thing taking shape has been really important”.

If the sheer enthusiasm of this family is anything to go by the Permablitz programme has been very worthwhile for them. They have enriched their living environment by not only providing healthy organic food for the family but also by creating a depth of experience for their children within their property that is educational and fulfilling, and full of discoveries.


Written by Trish Waugh, June 2016


Report on Permablitz # 25

Permablitz 25 kicked off at Tarariki Pottery on Old Reservoir Road, Paeroa, home of Mike O’Donnell and Trish Waugh.
A large group of 26 keen blitzers, plus the design team of Trish, Sharon, blue hat (Blitz organiser), Lia, Ailie, Katherine gathered around a fire pit to be warmly welcomed by Mike and Trish. Mike gave a karakia and described the history of the property, sharing how it has evolved and movingly expressed how we are part of their tribe that will carry the seeds of regenerating nature forward.
Introductions included our name, where we were from and an exercise everyone could do as a warm up, literally!
Trish, Mike and the design teams’ concept plan for the day included creating a fence around the vegetable garden to keep the chickens off; sheet mulched beds around fruit trees; larger sheet mulched areas for planting smaller fruiting plants like guava and Chilean guava, vegetables e.g. silver beet and fennel as well as herbs, e.g. lavender, yarrow, calendula and Cassia ‘John Ball’ and tagastaste shrubs that fix nitrogen. This planting would create a forest garden incorporating the chooks to control small native manuka beetles that breed in the ground over winter and cause damage by eating a lot of leaves in
spring. They are distinctive in dropping to the ground when disturbed.
Everyone got stuck in clearing the overgrowth along the fence lines, and along the roadfront to ‘chicken proof’ them, the fence holes were dug and areas prepped for sheet mulching.
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Distinct edges were created around the beds for weed control. Ailie and Lia ran a workshop on sheet mulching explaining the layers, firstly the soil is limed, then cardboard laid with sellotape removed and soaked, followed by seaweed, horse manure, sawdust, comfrey, wood mulch and finally covered in rotted silage, filling our nostrils with a sweet, pungent/fermented smell, signature of farm life. Trish said comfrey tea would be poured over the mulch to kick start the composting process.
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Lia led a workshop giving us insights into the amazing life of earthworms, inviting each of us to read a pertinent fact she’d gleaned from the book ‘Organic Growing with Worms, a handbook for a better environment’ by David Murphy. I didn’t know for example that worms
swallow soil to move through it and the tunnels created are coated in nitrate rich mucous for ease of movement. These tunnels open the soil for water and oxygen. They also excrete harmless bacteria and antibiotics are found in their poo which is oxygen rich. Bad bacteria like an anaerobic environment. Lia is passionate about worms and says that worms are perfect examples of permaculture at work.
Lunch was really delicious, beautifully prepared by Shai. There was pumpkin and coconut soup, green and rice salads, guacamole, humus, breads, a cashew chicken dish and freshly harvested mussels. Mike gave a blessing for the meal which began with him playing his flute.
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Just at the end of lunch Trish gave a mini workshop on why she created a food forest. She has modeled it on the work of Robert Hart in Shropshire who is the father of forest gardens for temperate climates. The mulched beds created are an in-between stage from orchard to forest garden. As the trees grow and the canopy closes there will be more shade and what grows will change and there will be more layers in the mix of vegetation.
After lunch activities involved planting into the sheet mulch, more work on the fence and creation of a Taranaki gate (i.e. a wire gate), and a workshop on chickens and how to clip their wings. Only the first flight feathers on one wing are cut to cause imbalance and this is enough to stop chickens flying over fences. The newly built chicken house was moved into the prepared orchard setting. It was built by Mike as a small transportable unit, light and of minimal construction.
We completed preparation of the vegetable bed for garlic. This involved cutting down the lupins, lightly digging them in, and then covering the bed with seaweed and silage. Mike and Trish plant their garlic later than most so that it ripens and can be dug in January when the weather is dry.
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Group photo below with completed section of fence. There is more of the fence for Mike to finish.
This was a most productive day with lots of Mike’s words of wisdom and passion to inspire us. To quote from Mike at the end of the day when he shared the healing garden with us, “ In my experience of life I believe it is all good shit. Essentially all that matters is how we are given to reply. That which comes to pass is a master teacher to us all, the past is there to find composure and to embrace, not deny, nor judge nor blame, but to turn it over as a gardener would in the making of compost, aerobically, to breathe life into it. Such does the healer embrace the disposition and the artist find the poem the song. It is within us all to creatively reply. This is a time of great challenge, when the earth is appealing to us all. To sing in the face of adversity I believe is the key to our honouring that challenge, and to realise our work is our song.”
Written by Julia Sich.

We’ve bent the rules….


Usually we say you need to come to three permablitzes before you qualify to host your own, and there are many reasons why we say this. However, sometimes three is a lot. To keep blitzes happening, we are bending the rules a bit.

So until further notice, you can qualify to host your own blitz if you have:

  1. participated in two permablitzes, OR
  2. participated in one permablitz and have volunteered for a day with any two of the following groups (or similar):

– Helped out for a day at your local community garden e.g. The Rock Papamoa Community Gardens, see them on Facebook;
– Attended a community day at any Coast Care Group, through BOP Regional Council;
– Attended community day at any Bay of Plenty Conservation group, such as local wetland or riparian margin restoration e.g. Athenree Saltmarsh Restoration Group, through DOC or – HELP Waihi, Habitat Enhancement and Landcare Partnership (HELP) Waihi
– WWOOFing;
– Voluntary pest control work such as through Forest & Bird e.g. Aongatete Forest restoration Trust, through DOC;
– Attended, volunteered at or run workshops relating to permaculture practices

Basically we want to make sure you’re committed to the cause – creating edible gardens, sharing skills related to permaculture and sustainable living, building community, and having fun – and know what to expect at your own blitz.

So if you are keen to get your place blitzed and think you qualify – then check out this page here and let’s get things underway!