All posts by Hugo Verhagen

Report on Permablitz #14

Permablitz #14 was held at Christine’s place in Whakamarama on Saturday 14th October.

The day was focussed on installing a food forest system on  Christine’s lifestyle block on north facing sloping site. Swales were  installed to capture unused stormwater roof runoff. This great resource which used to spill out over the boundary into the neighbouring bush property will now filter down through a series of four swales through the new food forest.

Not only will this help irrigate the forest, it will faciltitate the accumulation of nutrients, picked up as the rainwater flows into the swales. These will slowly fill up with debris such as leaf litter and begin to decompose. Occasionally Christine will need to clear the swales, but when she shovels the organic matter out of the swales, she’ll be adding compost to the soil around the trees & plants adjacent!


This pipe was removed and re installed to divert the house roof storm water into the first infiltration swale. The short length of corrugated pipe attached to slows the water as it comes out of the pipe.


As each swale was dug, soil from it was placed to create a low mound along the contour beside it.  Four swales were dug across the site and each was linked with a buried section of pipe.

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This A-frame tool was used to mark out each swale so that it could be dug level across the slope contour to gain maximum infiltration effect.

Whilst the swales were being dug, a team got together to resolve the placement of the food forest trees. They considered where to site the large canopy trees, the mid storey trees, the shrubs, and ground-covers.  By combining all these different layers, much can be put in a small space. This will grow into a human designed forest ecosystem that is as the resilient and productive as  a natural forest ecosystem.

Swales will ensure that all every drop of rain that falls and the nutrients that accumulate on Christine’s land is put to good use and no longer floods off the property like it used to.

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The weather was wonderful and the atmoshpere nice and relxed. Kids squeezed citrus fruit and decorated plant pots in the shade for adults and everyone had a great time!

Check out the Permablitz Bay of Plenty’s Facebook page for more photos of this great day!

Report on Permablitz #10

The day of Permablitz #10, Saturday August 24th dawned misty and wet…in the Waikato… Luckily it was a quite the opposite in the Bay of Plenty where our hosts Peter and Jacquie  live,  south of Katikati.

With a crew of about 24 enthusiastic permablitzers eager to learn about Food Forests we couldn’t have asked for a better day. After the introductions Marie  gave an informative talk on the benefit of planting a Food Forest, which involves planting multi-layers of food producing plants in one area where each plant benefits the other in many ways. Trish then explained the design for the Food Forest that she and Marie prepared for the Faulkners.

 Then we got straight into preparing the 90 square metre area for planting, making several compost heaps from surplus material around the garden and planting some of the key fruit trees.

Ruth gave a very in depth workshop on fruit tree pruning and Sue Peachey led a workshop on planting Blackcurrants and Cranberry’s. Trish  shared her learning about preparing the ground for planting kumara later in the year. Heather  and Marie  prepared two large compost heaps.

 Peter and Jacquie not only provided us with a delicious lunch but also talked us through Miso making and preservation of Olives. Following lunch we had a discussion about all of the lower canopy plants to be planted beneath the fruit trees, including edible and medicinal herbs and weeds, perennial vegetables, corms and tubers and seeds. It was good to learn about new plants and how to cook them, the (f)artichokes a favourite!

It was all hands to the weeding, planting, seed sowing, labeling and laying of sawdust to the path then we stood back to enjoy the results of our labour.


A satisfying day for all and a big thank-you to Peter and Jacquie for your hospitality. We hope to see a photo or two on Facebook of the garden as it matures.





Report on Permablitz #11

Permablitz #11 was held at Peter Archer’s place in Kerepehi, Hauraki District on Saturday the 10th of August, two days before Permablitz BOP’s first birthday! (Aug 12th 2012) 220 followers, 15 events, and 363 days later we’re still here!)

Introductions started in Peter’s Carport as the showers began to ease. A mix of BOP Blitzers and Thames permies came together under one roof and Steve bumped his head on the truss beam.

We introduced ourselves and the plan for the day then got stuck in. The two main jobs were digging over Peter’s vege garden and planting the rest of the property (800m2) with fruit trees & shrubs.


The vege garden crew started digging the first few spadefuls and soon realised it was going to be hard Yakka! The Hauraki clay loam under our feet stuck to spades like glue. Peter really needed our help!

As the vege crew bravely forged ahead without complaint, the tree planting crew checked out Peter’s proposed layout.  We imagined the citrus trees infront of Peters lounge window  eventually blocking out the sun. Then thought about  his winter power bill!   Sticks were used to help imagine their eventual size, and a new kind of dance was invented waving them around and spinning in circles!


A halt to the planting was called and some garden design a-la Bill Mollison style was initiated. Ie careful observation and protracted thought, the tree layout needed more of this.  Heads were put together and some thinking was done.  An hour and many well considered decisions later, Peter was called to approve the new layout. Deciduous trees to the north to let in the winter sun. Citrus to the south to plug the holes in the rear shelter trees, feijoas in a semi-circle to enclose a future sitting area etc. Peter approved.

Just before lunch all stopped for a tree planting workshop with Hugo, this was really necessary  the hard soil meant we needed to plant trees using the best possible techniques if they were to survive!DSCF2590

After lunch Lia, ran a workshop on soils which prompted a great discussion on the merits of organic versus permaculture systems.

The tree plantings then continued  as did the vege  garden digging and Peter’s  600kg pile of compost soon disappeared.  The day ended abruptly as the vege crew came to help plant the last few trees.

At the end we all got together for a review after a lemonade tree was given some good vibes by us all!


A big day by all but a great result. Peter will be eating fruit & vege from his garden this coming season. This would have been very difficult for him to do without help! Well done again blitzers!  Good luck to our friends from Thames, it was great to share the day with you and we hope you can get some more blitzes happening over your way again some time!


A Tour and a Swap – hanging out with the OOOOBY Group

On Saturday the 13th of July 2013, Permablitz Bay of Plenty were delighted to host the Tauranga OOOOBY Group for a combined event here in Katikati.

Ooooby logo

Ooooby, for anyone who doesn’t already know, stands for “Out Of Our Own Back Yards”.    You can find out more about the Tauranga Ooooby Group by visiting the Ooooby website – it’s a good place to visit to make connection with likeminded people, and also to view some fascinating links to interesting resources/info/ideas.  And you might even be inspired to create your own Ooooby page …..

Marie's tour montage

We were fortunate to have good weather on Saturday and we had a large, keen group turn up on Saturday morning.  We had members from both the Permablitz network and the Ooooby Group, all keen to meet and learn more about what each other did and how it worked.

Connection Game

We started the day by sharing some thoughts about permaculture, and then we visited Marie’s beautiful garden.  While we were there we had a lot of fun exploring the idea of connections in permaculture design.

Moving the dome and the chicken queue

The next garden we visited was Hugo and Carolyn’s garden, where the team took advantage of the opportunity to help move the chicken dome into its new position – we also helped the chickens move house!  A great time was had by all!

lunch at Kates

After a break for lunch, Kate told the story of the Katikati Motel garden and how it came about and the by-now-very-sociable group had the opportunity to look around their third garden.

Green Swap

The Green Swap was held at the end of the day, and was introduced by the Tauranga Ooooby Group, who hold Green Swaps on a regular basis.  It was a fun and friendly opportunity to swap any surplus garden produce / pots / plants / fruit / homemade creations…..we all had a wonderful time and went home delighted with our new-found riches!    What a great idea!  Take along what you have too much of, don’t need, can’t use, and go home with lots of goodies straight from your friends’ backyards.  What’s not to like about that?

Permablitz would like to thank the Ooooby folk for making the trip out to Katikati – we hope our members will get the chance to work together again in the future…..

Report of Permablitz#9

What a great day!

Permablitz #9 was held on Sunday the 7th of July at Carol & Mikes house, up on the hills behind Katikati. The sun beamed down, a  cold south westerly wind blew and everybody who came truly experienced the suntrap effect! It was a great way to learn about principle #7 ‘Design from patterns to details’.

Making the pumpkin mounds

A significant part of Carol’s permaculture design was to make use of her suntrap on her existing north-facing terraces. These had difficult access, but with teamwork we were able to carry large quantities of organic material up to the terraces in buckets! Up there, pumpkin mounds were built. These small no dig beds will break down in the coming months and be ready for Carol’s future bumper pumpkin crop!

Drilling worm towers

Fancy low maintenance – no production  shrubs were put through the mulcher and ‘Worm towers’ were drilled using pieces of pipe. These were inserted into the newly cleared vege beds which will house Carol’s growing population of free-range worms. It is hoped these will stimulate soil activity in the vege beds and give Carol somewhere useful to put her kitchen scraps!

Carol & Mike's bean frames

Carol & Mike got two lovely new bean frames built for them. Just as these were being finished,  someone opened the bucket to Carol’s secret possum repellant. OMG! You had to be there. If you were downwind at the time, you would feel very sorry for all the Possums on the Kaimais that venture near Carol’s garden, boy, are they going to be repelled!

Permablitz 9 group shot

What fun we all had, and what a great vibe there was on the day. Thanks to everybody who shared in the decision making, taking on leadership roles and for your contributions to some great discussions. Carol & Mike seemed to be glowing afterwards! They will reap the rewards of all their involvement with permablitz in the coming growing season and they both really deserve it!

Report of Permablitz #8

Permablitz #8,

Saturday May 25th 2013

With a huge rain event predicted to innundate blitz #8 after lunch, we weren’t sure whether anyone would come! A few were missing but many came enthusiastic as usual! The weather bomb never arrived, but it certainly seemed to motivate everyone!

No time was wasted early in the day, introductions were cut short and newcomers got thrown in the deep end, and were given jobs as soon as they had labled their tools!


One of the first major jobs was to thin out a large grove of bananas. Meanwhile a trailor full of compost was shovelled on to the adjacent beds.


Compost piles were built using rolls of wire mesh and filled  chopped up banana plants, manure , sawdust, prunings, grass clippings and weeds. Two piles were built at intervals along the lower vege garden terrace.

There was a workshop on vegetable guild planting, and two beds were planted with a mix of cabbage, brocolli, cauliflower, beetroot, peas, lettuces, and broadbeans. (Not a lot else will grow here in Late May)

Blitz #8 Group photo

The rain finally came as people were leaving at 3pm.What  a great community thing we have here! The day was enjoyed by all, and once again we were able to blitz another garden which will in time become far more productive!