Category Archives: Blitz reports

Follow up on previous blitz!

Newsflash!

G3 garden group from Mount Maunganui visited the food forest of Christine Paris in Whakmarama.  This was one of our earlier blitzes, designed by Hugo Verhagen.  It is neat to see some photos and a follow up of how the swales are working to feed Christine’s fruit trees and how everything is growing.

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This is a photo of the blitz day,  visit http://g3tauranga.blogspot.co.nz/ to see G3’s  impressions of this permaculture property when the visited recently.

 

 

Report on Permablitz at Envirohub

Envirohub’s Public Food Forest Permablitz Report
By Kat Gawlik, Lead Designer
15 March 2015

Although we had a lot of competing events happening on the same day because of Sustainable Backyards month, and the looming threat of Tropical Cyclone Pam, the mini-blitz at the Envirohub food forest was an intimate and successful morning that finished with a shared lunch including a salad of greens and herbs from the Envirohub gardens.

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This was to be the first Permablitz to happen in a public space, and we had an intimate crew of around 10 people; including a few regular ‘permablitzers’ as well as some new to the Bay of Plenty and for whom it was their first Permablitz.

After moving the seedlings and supplies up to the food forest slope, we started the morning with an introductions circle at 9am, a few clouds in the sky but no sign of the wind and rain that were forecast for later that evening.

The Rampant Immigrant

Before we tackled the rampant Kikuyu grass smothering the recently planted citrus trees, we heard from Catherine Dunton-Mcleod about the history of Kikuyu arriving in NZ with the early settlers on ships that on the long journey had stopped in South Africa where the South African grass made a ‘splendid’ substitute for the grasses and plants that had already perished on board. Little did they know that in the future the rampant and hardy grass would become a bane to many gardeners. We looked at possible methods to control Kikuyu grass including using black plastic to ‘cook’ the grass in initial site preparations, using a slurry of hydrated lime to immediately alkalise the soil (Kikuyu likes more acidic soil), using a physical barrier of sheeting iron dug into the ground, digging a deep trench, and shading it out with rambling plants like choko (chayote), orangeberry or nasturtium.

But we can’t be too hard on poor old Kikuyu, it was doing a great job in stabilising the steep bank and being the protective ground covering for the soil ecosystem beneath. So, once we removed the kikuyu grass from around the shallow rooted citrus trees we needed to replace that competitive yet protective soil covering with a diversity of beneficial ground covers, mineral accumulators, nitrogen fixers, pollinator attractants and pest repellents which would make up a fruit tree guild.

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The Citrus Tree Guild

During a well deserved morning tea of juicy nashies and kiwifruit water we heard about what a fruit tree guild is and talked about the role each plant would play in the citrus tree guild. Comfrey, rosemary, sage, strawberries, tagasaste, wisteria, echinacea, asparagus, lavender, thyme, rose geranium, globe artichoke, horseradish, mint and oregano were strategically planted around the now cleared citrus trees according to height, sun angle, and root depth, while the live piano music from the nearby Historic Village market permeated throughout the blitz site.

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With their claustrophobic collar of kikuyu removed, the citrus trees looked much happier with their new plant companions- a quick mulch of compost and grass clippings was laid and we were out of time!  We knew the new plants would get a good watering-in later that night with the predicted heavy rain the cyclone would bring. There is going to be a bit of on going maintenance to keep the invasive kikuyu away while the guild plants get established – get in touch with Noel Peterson from Envirohub if you would like to assist!

We finished the day with a yummy shared lunch while hearing Noel’s take on planting by the moon, and we got to take home a lucky dip of either dehydrated apples or cover crop seed of lupin, oats and mustard.

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Thanks everyone who came! It was a productive and fun morning!

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Contacts:

Noel Peterson, Envirohub, Historic Village
noel@envirohub.org.nz

Kat Gawlik, Lead Permaculture Designer, Permablitz Bay of Plenty
kat@forgreenies.com

Catherine Dunton-Mcleod, Design Guild Leader, Plenty Permaculture
uskiwi@eol.co.nz

 

 

 

 

Report on Permablitz at Nashi Fest 2015

PermablitzBOP gave a workshop at the Nashi Fest this year discussing what a fruit tree guild is, how they work and their benefits. To begin the workshop we played a game to show how plants, people and animals are connected. Check out the photos below of the fun. Our facebook page has a neat video of Trish making a smoothie powered by a bike.

 

IMG_0393 IMG_0400 Permablitz workshop 1 permablitz workshop 2 Permablitz workshop 4 Permablitz workshop 5 Permablitz workshop 6 Permablitz workshop 7

Report on Permablitz #20

There was a lot to be done at permablitz #20, with a great turn out and lots of enthusiasm the design was explained and everyone introduced themselves.

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The hosts Marco and Teresa have only been on the property for a month, but with fruit trees that were gratefully gifted to them and plants to get in the ground – a blitz at their new property was in order!

A forest garden was designed along the principles of Koanga Institute’s ‘Design your own Forest Garden’ booklet. This design incorporates the many layers of a natural forest with fruit trees, nitrogen fixers, comfrey for the potash and many other mineral accumulating useful and edible plants planted in their appropriate guilds. Swales were dug on this slope to stop the water running off and taking the nutrients with it! The idea is that the water will stay in the swale and permeate through the berm to feed the deep rooted fruit tree.

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As well as planting the forest garden, an area to reuse water was created and planted out with water loving plants. An area was dug out, the plants lovingly planted, wet cardboard laid on top, with a dripper line and then mulch. AND of course help was needed double digging beds in their zone 1 garden area!

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There was a feast for lunch, which everyone tucked into with relief (hot work on an equally hot day!)

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After lunch Marco gave a little workshop on biochar, how to make it, the uses and the benefits for the garden and farm!

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Back to work for a final push before people had to start heading home for the day.

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A drink or two was had at the end of the day marvelling at all the work that had been done. The power of people and the amazing achievements that can be made, never ceases to amaze us!

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Report on Permablitz #18

Turangi’s eagerly anticipated first permablitz got of to an exciting start! With a cool but sunny day forecast, a group of mostly strangers met for the first time at Boyd & Avis’ house. There were a contingent from Hillary Outdoors, and Awhi farm as wells as neighbours, locals and a cool dude Boyd met at the Tokaanu hotpools! Milo the fox terrier invited a few to play with him by presenting a tennis ball.
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We heard Boyd & Avis’ story as well as how permablitz came to be and what was the purpose of it all. Everyone seemed keen,  so after a quick run down of the plan and a few jobs, we broke into teams and proceeded to transform another garden into something more edible and functional!

The old concrete block edges came out in the blink of an eye and were re-positioned to make more garden bed space. Weeds were pulled and shrubs went flying! a Large pile of greenwaste was quickly attended by ladies on chairs who sat and chopped the woody stuff into smaller pieces.

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Liam built a new three-bin compost system whilst an old garden seat and pavers were ripped out to make yet more garden bed space.  The rear gardens had plenty of compost added, a free resource from the Turangi Dump! The locals call it black gold here. Many were interested to hear that this  ‘Black gold’ sells for up to $120 per m3 in larger towns. Here the council struggles to give it away!

Lunch was welcome ravenously as the day started to heat up. We had BBQ’d sausages, some great chicken soup and sandwiches. All loving prepared by Avis, Thanks Avis! A few of the senior neighbours went home, but their input was greatfully appreciated, they had chopped up a great big pile of woody waste for us!

After lunch, we stopped for a seed sowing workshop put on by Carolyn. After that a composting workshop was obligingly delivered by permablitz novice, but senior gardener – Geoff from across the road. The compost bins took the rest of the day to fill, but were done with gusto!

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After the workshops, everyone went back to work eagerly. The whole team  worked like a well oiled machine and the garden transformation was beginning to look really good. At the front of the property a few worked in isolation because of a dividing fence. They were soon a part of it all as the fence was cut open to make way for a new future gate!

A short stop for refreshments late afternoon, before a final push to the end meant we got it all done on time. Boyd and Avis spoke of how greatful they were as everyone sat round to have a drink together at our final debrief . A great day of good feelings, inspiration, friendship, teamwork and sharing!

We hope that we can blitz again in Turangi someday soon, but we need someone new who wants to be a host to put their hand up! Please contact us through permablitzcninz@gmail.com if you are keen!

Wasn’t it great to demonstrate that people are inherently good? Many thanks to all that came and thanks to Boyd & Avis for your good food and willingness to have a blitz at your place!

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Turangi permablitzers, a very colourful lot!

 

 

 

Report on Permablitz #17

Sunday September 7th was a winner. Our hosts Henk and Valerie Hoogland really looked after their hardy band of volunteers at their beautiful property on the shores of Tauranga Harbour at Tanners Point, north of Katikati.
We had a crew of 18 or so energetic permablitzers eager to learn about permaculture and we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Catherine Dunton – McLeod lead the introductions which revealed a very interesting bunch of registrants who had an array of experience that added a lot to the day. Trish then explained the design she and Catherine had prepared with Henk & Valerie for their garden.
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It was a well-established garden with many fruit trees already producing when Henk and Valerie moved in four years previously. The main aim of the design was to introduce more varieties of fruiting plants, especially Berryfruit and nuts and to form a herbal ley beneath a portion of the orchard, which would be extended gradually over a period of time.

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After preparing the orchard area we laid sheet mulching beneath the fruit trees starting with Lime, then followed by wet cardboard, compost, horse manure, coffee grounds etc, dry carbon material then a final layer of chip mulch. Later in the day herbs were planted into this mulch beneath the trees and herbal ley seed will to be sown throughout.
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Catherine and Kat held workshops on Berryfruit and Almond planting and Rex gave a very informative talk on Yakon; its uses and how to grow it. Thank-you Rex for the Yakon seed brought to share.

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The most popular job was to install a traditional North American Medicine Garden, a wish that Valerie had had for many years, to be fulfilled by us all. It was a special experience for each of us as we placed a rock within the circular space and were given its spiritual meaning.

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Henk and Valerie provided us with a delicious vegetarian lunch AND Henk and Rex entertained us with some classy tunes on their ukuleles… and other unusual musical instruments.

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Following lunch it was all hands to the weeding, planting, mulching, and eventually tidying up then we stood back to enjoy the results of our labour.

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A special thanks goes out to Brett Soutar of Short Back ‘n’ Sides, Arborists of Waihi for the donation of mulch for the garden.

A satisfying day for all and a big thank-you to Henk and Valerie for your hospitality.

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Report on Permablitz #16

What a day on Sunday August 10 at Sunny and Steve’s in Aongatete!!
A day full of colour, texture, laughter, learning, giving, sharing……. the list goes on. A magnificent journey in which the land and the people played the main characters. Not to mention the finale; a huge sense of achievement all round and wonderful memories for all involved.
Blitz Colour Collage
Guided by brightly coloured balloons, on a beautiful sunny morning, we were all very warmly welcomed to Steve and Sunny’s blitz. Orange is said to represent joy, optimism, enthusiasm, creativity and success; so a great balloon colour choice as this really was a true reflection of an amazing day.
A long time coming, this blitz had a few delays and unexpected events, so it was an absolute privilege to be part of finally being able to give something back to a couple who have given so much of their time and energy to many, many previous blitzes.
Pre-blitz preparation onsite to give everyone time to get to know the area and feel at home was the first tell tale sign of an exceptionally well organised and efficiently run day. This was followed by a meet and greet inside and a run down of the day’s events with a brief explanation of the main focus of our work – Guild Building.
The ‘Gosa’ (blessing) was the first event on the agenda; a traditional Korean blessing ritual asking for safety and good will for new beginnings. A perfect way to start, especially since it was the first time Sunny had ever lead one herself as growing up and even as an adult, it was always something her Mother did. Just perfect, a beautiful way to bring in the wider whanau as well as a soft reminder that the plants are not alone in their growth and establishment in their new home with Sunny and Steve.
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Pre blitz preperations
It was obvious from the plan for the day and the focus on building guilds that Catherine and Marie had put amazing amounts of time into this design, with lots of tidbits of interesting info for people to take away and try for themselves.
The main plan for the day was to build guilds, a hugelkulture bed for the berries as well as boarder edging and pathways. Nature has definetly got it right when it comes to balanced healthy ecosystems. Permaculture Guilds are based on the principles of these natural systems. Every element in nature serves a function and supports each other for the overall strength and sustainability of the system. Permaculture attempts to mimick this by including a carefully selected range of plants and animals, each with different functions that contribute to the overall health and stability of the system or family itself.
We learned at the intro that Catherine and Marie based their design guild distribution, on Kay Baxter’s 50/50 calculations; http://www.koanga.org.nz/kays-garden-blog-april-2014/. Where 50% of the mature food forest producing area is dedicated to nitrogen fixing plants and the other 50% to everything else that supports the main tree or plant in the guild. We were working with a 300sq metre area, planting was calculated accordingly and all ready to go on the day. Sunny had been growing and collecting plants for months and we had a great supply of lovely, healthy baby plants to serve as companions for the guilds.
We were split into groups for the various jobs and off we set, to have some fun under a  gorgeous blue sky, in great company.
Plan - Aug 2014
 Steve did a great job of collecting sawdust for the paths, compost for the plantings and the right mix of acidic elements for growing berries in. A Hugelkulture bed was planned for the centre of the paths that were weaving their way through the different guilds. The hugelkulture bed was the prefect choice for the berries as it was a way to give them the acidic environment they so love without interferrring with the rest of the plants.

The hugelkulture bed is fun idea and a lot of fun to build. Everyone had a ball collecting the material, constructing it, jumping on top of it, watering it, layering it and eventually planting it. A hub of conversation and a real structural centre. It was not only the centre of the garden itself but proved to be the centre of attention as everyone enjoyed watching it come to be. All this lovely community building gave the beginnings of the garden a real sense of belonging with family and friends.
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The hugelkulture bed takes shape

As you can see from the Boarder Edging photo collage below, this is where raspberries were planned and what an efficient job it was.

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Border edging going in around the whole garden

Finally I teared myself away from all that great fun and buzz in the garden and walked straight into another lovely warm, colourful, happy zone – the kitchen! Wow,  we were in for a treat for lunch!!! We had all sorts of freshly made goodies coming and all dietary considerations prepared for. Many people have asked for the name of the restaurant owned by the chef who prepared much of the yummy food, so what better place than here to make sure we all know where to go for a great meal. Korean Chinese Restaurant , Rock’n Wok, 45 Fourth Ave., Tauranga. What a lovely family and the sparkle in the eye with a beautiful wide smile on the face of that man while cooking was a sure sign for me of someone who loves to cook.

 There was also a birthday cake for a couple of blitz attendees who were celebrating their day with us. Wait!, that’s not all, before we headed out Marie gave a little talk on how she has traditionally prepared Saurerkraut in her family for years. It was fascinating with lots of interesting and well answered questions on fermented food.
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Look at all this glorious FOOD!

The group on the day was made up of a great mix of people. People from previous blitzes, locals, people who had recently moved here from overseas, people from Rotorua, people in their last days in the Bay shortly to head off to exciting new beginnings in the King Country, people planning to have their own blitz very soon, and people planning to set up their own blitz team, not to mention a few participating in or teaching horticulture courses, as well as PDCs.

Back to work we go, all anticipating whether or not we would have time to finish the planting, get those pest control and beneficial insect attracting plants in, nitrogen fixing friends as well as a few that help break up the soil.. but so much had happened so far, would we make it?
Off we headed, to put down the path, innoculate the soil, supplement the soil with the right mix of support food and compost full of lovely wriggly worms, plant each guild with the appropriate companion plants and top it all off with a yummy layer of mulch to keep all the plants cosy, warm and hydrated.
What a Food Forest; Blueberries, Cranberries, a deciduous guild, a mediterranean guild a citrus guild to name a few. Comfrey, Salvia, Thyme, Tangy, Sage, Nasturtium, Chives, Clover, Dill, Mint, Fennel, Bulbs, Wild Flowers…Sunny had done a great job of gathering the family together.
Guild-Planting Collage No Jenni

We hope this has given you an idea of just how colourful a day we had!! The colour that shone through the most, the brightest, and strongest colour of the day was that of people power. Laughter, team work, fun and a real sense of family.

What better way to start of on new beginnings!!! Thank you Sunny and Steve for sharing this with us and thank you to everyone who helped out on the day, what a great bunch of people. None of it would have happened, if it weren’t for Catherine and Marie, thank you immensely for such dedicated, well thought out, planning and design work.
What a great team !!
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THANKS team!

Report on Permablitz #15

Permablitz #15 at Beccy's place, 143 Rahu Rd, Paeroa</p><br />
<p>Saturday the 12th was wild, wet and windy after a week of similar weather.  The blitz was scheduled for Sunday 13th and although the weather forecast that things could clear mid morning, it was hard to imagine as my daughter Holly and I braved the weathers to saw down large bamboo in readiness for the next day's ventures.  We had a great whanau crew of 5 tucked in our tiny home chopping salads, making soups, baking cakes,creating pies and praying like crazy that the blitz wouldn't be cancelled... or we'd have had a lot to eat !!!<br /><br />
At 10.00 p.m. someone noticed the rain had stopped and we stepped outside to a quiet, clear night sky.  The full moon was surrounded by the most amazing coloured moonbow I had ever seen and we knew the storms were over and all would be well.<br /><br />
By Sunday 9.30 the 29 permablitzers began to gather around the outside fire, where we shared a cuppa, introductions and the plan for the day.  I talked a little about the history of arriving on the land 17 years ago with my two young girls, Holly and Kyah, now young women and part of the blitz team.  Also of  Annies involvement in the land over the years and now into the future with plans to build a cabin here.  Trish Waugh shared our permaculture plans for the land and for the day in creating a 'food forest', pruning existing fruit trees, and re-creating the vege gardens and compost heaps.  She talked about the special nature of the land being south facing and why we were planting what we were and where.<br /><br />
The first job was a good warm up for our wintered bodies, getting two large piles of rocks gathered in the native bush at the height of the section down to a recently terraced gully below the house where part of the food forest was being created.  The plan was to use the available resource of rocks to create small dry stone walls around the proposed fruit tree sites.  These will act as a collector of rain and nutrients and stop the run off down the banks.  Trish took us through the process of creating the rock walls and then it didn't take long for the group to create 4 reasonable sized retaining walls, to hold citrus, blueberries and an apple tree and many supporting herbs, fruit and veges.  As that activity was completed we divided into 3 groups, two to learn about and practice pruning some of the older trees (fig, apples and peaches) with either Trish or Catherine Dunton-Mcleod and the third to create a new compost frame out of warratahs and wire mesh with Cat Firth and Annie.  A new compost heap was created inside it layering carbon and nitrogen materials that had been previously gathered.<br /><br />
The weather couldn't have been better as we gathered for a scrumdiddilyumptious lunch (thanks to the amazing talents of our kitchen whizzes, Kyah, Katie and others).  Over a cuppa and dark Chocolate Beetroot cake Catherine D.M. shared some of her knowledge around 'Food Forests' enhanced by her recent learnings from Kaye Baxters workshop.  Others who had been part of Kayes workshop added in what they had learned to the mix; one thing that stood out for me was the simplicity of thinking that 50% of a food forest is food producing trees and plants and another 50% need to be plants that support those food producing trees. We also shared knowledge about how to plant fruit trees successfully before going off to plant 22 of them across two areas of the section.  Many people commented at the end of the day that they had learnt a lot about planting fruit trees well, especially bare rooted ones eg: facing the tap root to the south.  Grass was turfed and cleared around each tree and replaced with good quantities of compost and mulch.  Amongst this rich mix was lovingly planted many roots of comfrey, daffodil bulbs, strawberries and a huge variety of herbs donated by the participants.  More mini rock walls were created around each tree to hold the nutrients and the bank and to create a barrier to grass growth.  At the same time those that were keen continued work on re-creating garden beds.  Rose Tuffery, who couldn't make it on the day, had dedicated a day earlier in the week to engineering a circular garden with split level beds and bamboo wall that would create a frame to later be adobed over.  Originally we used old teepee poles for this purpose and even though we had cut more bamboo from a local source on the day we fell short of material so this is still a work in progress.  Other beds were re-shaped to compliment the shape of the new circular garden and pathways levelled.<br /><br />
We called an end to the day around 4.00 p.m. and I felt absolutely amazed and grateful at the huge amount of work that had been done in such a short amount of time and the wonderful sense of community that had developed throughout the day.<br /><br />
We finished with a closing circle and acknowledgement from everybody of the various things they had experienced or enjoyed about the day.<br /><br />
Huge thanks to everyone for their contribution of time, energy and plants and a special thanks to the planning, design and facilitation team of Trish Waugh, Cat Firth, Rose Tuffery and Catherine Dunton-Mcleod.  I am deeply moved and grateful for your generosity of spirit.<br /><br />
Ngaa mihi nui Beccy

Permablitz #15 at Beccy’s place, Paeroa

Saturday the 12th was wild, wet and windy after a week of similar weather. The blitz was scheduled for Sunday 13th and although the weather forecast that things could clear mid morning, it was hard to imagine as my daughter Holly and I braved the weathers to saw down large bamboo in readiness for the next day’s ventures.

We had a great whanau crew of 5 tucked in our tiny home chopping salads, making soups, baking cakes,creating pies and praying like crazy that the blitz wouldn’t be cancelled… or we’d have had a lot to eat !!!
At 10.00 p.m. someone noticed the rain had stopped and we stepped outside to a quiet, clear night sky. The full moon was surrounded by the most amazing coloured moonbow I had ever seen and we knew the storms were over and all would be well.

By Sunday 9.30 the 29 permablitzers began to gather around the outside fire, where we shared a cuppa, introductions and the plan for the day. I talked a little about the history of arriving on the land 17 years ago with my two young girls, Holly and Kyah, now young women and part of the blitz team. Also of Annies involvement in the land over the years and now into the future with plans to build a cabin here.

Trish Waugh shared our permaculture plans for the land and for the day in creating a ‘food forest’, pruning existing fruit trees, and re-creating the vege gardens and compost heaps. She talked about the special nature of the land being south facing and why we were planting what we were and where.

The first job was a good warm up for our wintered bodies, getting two large piles of rocks gathered in the native bush at the height of the section down to a recently terraced gully below the house where part of the food forest was being created. The plan was to use the available resource of rocks to create small dry stone walls around the proposed fruit tree sites. These will act as a collector of rain and nutrients and stop the run off down the banks. Trish took us through the process of creating the rock walls and then it didn’t take long for the group to create 4 reasonable sized retaining walls, to hold citrus, blueberries and an apple tree and many supporting herbs, fruit and veges.

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As that activity was completed we divided into 3 groups, two to learn about and practice pruning some of the older trees (fig, apples and peaches) with either Trish or Catherine Dunton-Mcleod and the third to create a new compost frame out of warratahs and wire mesh with Cat Firth and Annie. A new compost heap was created inside it layering carbon and nitrogen materials that had been previously gathered.

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The weather couldn’t have been better as we gathered for a scrumdiddilyumptious lunch (thanks to the amazing talents of our kitchen whizzes, Kyah, Katie and others).

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Over a cuppa and dark Chocolate Beetroot cake Catherine D.M. shared some of her knowledge around ‘Food Forests’ enhanced by her recent learnings from Kay Baxters workshop. Others who had been part of Kays workshop added in what they had learned to the mix; one thing that stood out for me was the simplicity of thinking that 50% of a food forest is food producing trees and plants and another 50% need to be plants that support those food producing trees. We also shared knowledge about how to plant fruit trees successfully before going off to plant 22 of them across two areas of the section.

PB7

Many people commented at the end of the day that they had learnt a lot about planting fruit trees well, especially bare rooted ones eg: facing the tap root to the south. Grass was turfed and cleared around each tree and replaced with good quantities of compost and mulch. Amongst this rich mix was lovingly planted many roots of comfrey, daffodil bulbs, strawberries and a huge variety of herbs donated by the participants. More mini rock walls were created around each tree to hold the nutrients and the bank and to create a barrier to grass growth. At the same time those that were keen continued work on re-creating garden beds.

PB8

Rose Tuffery, who couldn’t make it on the day, had dedicated a day earlier in the week to engineering a circular garden with split level beds and bamboo wall that would create a frame to later be adobed over. Originally we used old teepee poles for this purpose and even though we had cut more bamboo from a local source on the day we fell short of material so this is still a work in progress. Other beds were re-shaped to compliment the shape of the new circular garden and pathways levelled.

We called an end to the day around 4.00 p.m. and I felt absolutely amazed and grateful at the huge amount of work that had been done in such a short amount of time and the wonderful sense of community that had developed throughout the day. We finished with a closing circle and acknowledgement from everybody of the various things they had experienced or enjoyed about the day.

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Huge thanks to everyone for their contribution of time, energy and plants and a special thanks to the planning, design and facilitation team of Trish Waugh, Cat Firth, Rose Tuffery and Catherine Dunton-Mcleod. I am deeply moved and grateful for your generosity of spirit.
Ngaa mihi nui Beccy

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!

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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.

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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 #13

Permablitz #13 was held at Kaine and Rachel’s place in Katikati on Saturday 21 September.

Rachel was delighted that the gale force winds and torrential rains had done their thing on Friday night, which meant Saturday morning was the perfect weather to get stuck into the blitz.  The main jobs on the day were making the wicking beds and planting.  Below is the plan and drawings for the three wicking beds:

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Hugo led the construction of the wicking beds, starting with pre cut 4-meter Macrocarpa boards.  The finished height was 400mm high with corner supports and a centre brace.

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The wicking beds are an improvement on raised beds as they have a wrapped, leaky pipe which runs through the bottom.  This, along with the plastic liner allows efficient water use, watering plants from the bottom up.  Watering is done by sticking a hose in the open end of the pipe and letting the bed get saturated.  It’s fantastic for times of drought, for people who are away a lot, or for those who forget to water their veggies.

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Before the pipe is buried, it is wrapped with a long, white stocking, a
“sock filter” from the building supply store.  This keeps the fine bits of dirt from clogging the pipe.

The team then got onto wheel barrel duty and filled the bottom of the beds with 100ml of smooth river rocks (so not to puncture the plastic), then weed mat stapled to the wood.  They then repeated layers of basic compost pile ingredients: compost, saw dust, grass clippings, horse manure and food scraps.  A mix of topsoil and compost finished the beds, and voila!

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Here are a couple of photos of the planting that happened on the day, besides the wicking beds.

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A great day of learning and working hard by all! Kaine, Rachel and their two children will be eating fruit & veggies from this garden in no time! And they may even get to sneak in a Christmas holiday and come back to ingredients for a salad, thanks to the wicking beds.

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