Report on Permablitz # 24

An energetic group of 22 people came together on Saturday 10th October to blitz a suburban backyard in Brookfield, Tauranga.

Host Sharon created the design for her PDC with Plenty Permaculture and this was implementation day!


The main task of the day was to create a series of small-scale infiltration swales on contour with vegetable beds in between. This will take advantage of the gentle slope of the property to harvest rainwater runoff.


The swales were lined with tree branches, mulch and sawdust, which will act like a sponge during heavy rain, then will slowly release moisture to the vegetable beds. The swales also function as pathways between the beds.

The vegetable beds were prepared by double-digging and adding amendments such as inoculated biochar, vermicast, Nature’s Garden and compost.

The vegetable growing area will be divided into two parts: a perennial vegetable polyculture, which will be self-sustaining once established; and annual vegetable beds which will be managed using biointensive methods.


Three interactive workshops were run to give everyone some fun, hands-on learning opportunities. Leo did a compost making workshop which resulted in a magnificent compost heap; Brad demonstrated double-digging and had his group powering through the vegetable beds; and Christine led a willow weaving workshop which resulted in a cute and rustic raised bed border (to be finished by host Sharon later).



The lunch of chickpea and pumpkin tagine, arabesque lentils, salads, roasted chicken, lemon and coconut balls, chocolate chip slice and fruit cake was lovingly assembled by our generous hosts.


As we were munching dessert, Gisella gave us a fabulous introduction to biodynamic gardening. We learned that biodynamic gardening always starts with applying a preparation called 500. It’s an involved process to make it, using cow horns packed with cow manure and buried in the ground. However you can purchase it through the NZ Biodynamic Association at a very low cost per acre. A few of the group decided to try it, so we put in our order with Gisella and will meet up in a couple of weeks when the moon is in the right phase to have a strong arm stirring party (500 needs to be stirred for an hour to activate it).

Facilitators Trish and Leo kept things running smoothly and it was a fun and productive day with amazing results!




Report on Permablitz # 23 – Turangi town house

Upwards of 25 people came to Turangi last sunday on what was a hot dry, and windy spring day. The site they came to work on was the front lawn of a typical hydro-house. This was one of many houses in the town moved on site for the Tongariro Power scheme in the 1960’s-70’s.


The concept design for the site included the front lawn as a perennial food forest system – a great sustainable solution for a busy professional couple with little spare time. However, Turangi is renowned for poor and extremely free draining pumice soil and a cold climate. It snow occasionally in winter as the town is 340m above sea level.  However this north facing sloped front lawn is a ideal suntrap, the house gives it excellent shelter from the cold southerly winds.


To alleviate water loss in the highly free draining soil, teams helped establish a combined Hugelkultur swale system. Stormwater from roof runoff was tapped into and piped to swales dug on contour above new berms. The berms were made from turf dug out of the swales and from trenches dug for wood which was buried under them. This waste wood was sourced locally from the fisherman’s track by the Tongariro river. There wayward gardeners had dumped pruning’s so these were put to good use.


As the buried wood eventually rots, it will act like a sponge to absorb winter rains to sustain the fruit trees and food forest plants through the summer drought. Much of the food forest is planted with deciduous fruit to ensure the hosue isn’t shaded and particular care was taken in the design to ensure morning sun would still enter the main living space window.


All involved had a great day with many young people new to permablitz having attended the day. The was a large international contingent of volunteers from Awhi farm and also staff from the Hillary Outdoor education center. It is hoped this event and local interest in the site will lead to further development of edible gardens at a Turangi Marae.

We are hoping to hold a massive multi-day permablitz someday to give back to the Turangi community, many of whom are the descendants of the visionary people that gifted NZ it’s first National Park. (Tongariro NP) Watch this space!


Permablitz #23!

Turangi town home Food Forest Permablitz

Sunday 4th October 2015, 9:30am – 4pm
Location: Turangi town home, register to find out where

We’re planting a food forest at a typical home in Turangi.

The site is a north facing,free-draining, front sloped garden, so a warm and dry spot well suited to great growing.

Before the fruit trees go in, we’ll be forming rainwater infiltration swales for drought tolerance and for cycling nutrients into the system. Storm-water runoff from the house and garage will fill a new goldfish pond in front of the house. Once full nutrients from the pond will flow into the swales too.

We’re planting a large range of stone-fruit like cherries, prunes and apricots along with citrus trees fruiting shrubs such as currants and gooseberries. They’ll love the hard frosts and warm dry summers. These will become the structure of the multi-layered food food for this young turangi family and kids passing by on their way to and from school.

Please come and help, likely workshops will discuss Food forest and swale design, composting, tree planting and mulch use. Anyone is welcome to teach a workshop on a sustainable living concept on the day!

There will be a good healthy lunch provided. Hosts will help organise carpooling for anyone willing to come down here. Turangi has great hotpools, walks, and plenty to see and do for a weekend away! (not to mention great permies down here including the sensational Awhi Farm (google them!)

Suitable plant donations for our food forest appreciated.

We hope to see you here!
Hugo & Caro

What to bring:
-Sturdy Footwear
-Own gardening tools (labelled with your name) – spades, shovels, wheelbarrows, hand tools
-Water bottle
-Hat and sun protection

-Extra clothing (Turangi climate is about a month behind the Tauranga!)

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

Permablitz #24!

Tauranga Suburban Garden Permablitz – REGISTRATIONS FULL

Saturday 10th October 2015, 9am – 4pm
Location: Tauranga, register to find out where

We’re creating vegetable beds on contour and under-planting fruit trees at a typical suburban home in Tauranga.

The site is a north facing, gently sloped garden.

We’ll be forming a series of small rainwater infiltration swales which will be filled with mulch and used as pathways between raised vegetable beds. Some of the vegetable beds will be dedicated to growing perennial vegetables, while the rest will be used for biointensive annual vegetable growing.

A few existing trees will need to be moved, and underplanted with companion plants. Some of the existing lawn area will be sheet mulched.

Likely workshops will be on the correct posture for digging, double digging, making multi-purpose portable compost bins, compost making, using biodynamic preparations, possibly making tepees and garden edging with woven willow if we can find enough suitable material. Anyone is welcome to teach a workshop on a sustainable living concept on the day!

Please come and help. The hosts will provide a good healthy lunch and snacks.

Limited to 20 people, so be in quick!

Hope to see you there!

What to bring: -sturdy footwear, gloves, gardening tools (labelled with your name), spades, shovels, wheelbarrows, hand tools,water bottle, hat and sun protection.

Plants/seeds needed: Dwarf comfrey, tagasaste, peppermint geranium, chamomile, hyssop, honeywort, greater celandine, welsh bunching onions, salvia, chamomile, siberian pea shrub, chives, alfalfa, bulbs, boysenberry, loganberry.

Donations to the compost pile appreciated: Seaweed, grass clippings, cow manure, straw…etc

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 # 20 – The Rock Community Gardens

On July the 12th The Rock hosted the 20th Bay of Plenty Permablitz – and what a day it was! The sun was shining, the wind was light, and smiles radiated from end to end of The Rock’s busy pathways.

The day started off frosty, with frozen hoses and ice coating every minute surface of the vegetables, creating a crispy white wonderland (see photos!).

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The buzz grew as people started arriving, greeting one another, pouring hot teas, labelling tools and laying down gifted plants.



After an introduction by Leo, Dave and Lily, Dave went over the Permaculture Design for the Food Forest to set the days agenda. Then after a big warm up stretch session we all got cracking! What a sight to see – all the weeks of preparation come to life in the hands of community, as the load was lifted up and shared between everyone.


Around 40-50 participants planted over 30 trees (20 of these being fruit trees) and a guild of support species, including comfrey, lupin, lavender, rosemary, dill, oregano, coriander, berry shrubs, and garlic around the edges to help keep out unwanted visitors.


Because the parent material at The Rock is a mercilessly nutrient-void sand, trees and shrubs were planted first in pre-prepared holes (refilled a month earlier with a mix of compost, manure and parent material), before cardboard and newspaper were laid around them to start the sheet mulch. A one meter radius around each tree was given special attention, building up the soil/compost layer a bit more to plant the guild species in.


Puffing and panting in the sunshine, countless wheelbarrow trips transported a large quantity of compost and mulch between 50-100m to the Food Forest site to form the sheet mulch layers. This sheet mulch consisted of (from the ground up):
1. Clay slurry
2. Newspaper a metre around the trees, cardboard everywhere else (which ran out big time – oops! If you’re planning to sheetmulch an area, get as much cardboard you think is necessary then quadruple it!)
3. Manure
4. Compost
5. Compost Tea, Cow Pat Pit, RokSolid
6. Mulch

Much of this enormous task was completed on the day, with one whole section completely finished (yay!) but quite a few areas remained uncovered by both compost and mulch, and were completed by Rock members in the week following.

Between this area of sheet mulch, the empty space for a path has since been filled with sawdust to guide visitors around the edible permaculture forest. One seat got fully set up on the day, and the second seat has since been completed.


Art also featured throughout the day, with Millie Newitt facilitating all the fruit tree signs being painted, in wild and wonderful colours and styles – Thanks Millie!

Some people took the time to prepare workshops for the Blitz that took place throughout the day and were a real hit (sometimes to the detriment of the main food forest task!!). Taking the time to prepare something and teach others is a great way to say thanks for coming and participating. Thanks to the following people for holding workshops:
– Dave – Dealing with kikuyu
– Chris – Dealing with Papamoa sandy soils
– Lily – Sauerkraut making
– Catherine – Fruit Tree Guilds
– Leo – Wormfarming

The feast that took place at lunch time was spoken of for days afterwards. Rows of salads, soups, breads (Thanks Flaveur breads!), cakes and more delectable home kitchen contributions were devoured in the sun, as we all  gathered round on beanbags, blankets, chairs and picnic tables to a well deserved break with some smooth beats adding to the mood.

The blitz was also blessed to have one Green Wizard floating about, casting spells of laughter and wisdom to many throughout the day. Thankyou Green Wizard.

A huge THANKYOU TO EVERYONE who came down to The Rock from near, far, and in the cold of morn to create something incredible that day – a productive, regenerative, bio-diverse public space – that will be a positive fixture in the community for years to come. Together we all rocked it! You’re all welcome anytime and we welcome anyone who wants to check out the Food Forest and learn more about Fruit Tree Guilds.

For more info on The Rock or to get involved, contact us at

Update from former PermablitzBOP Designer Kat Gawlik

Kat and Seiorse have made it to Fiji!

Kat Gawlik was such a contribution to PermablitzBOP while she was here last year.  We miss her!!  She and her partner Seiorse sailed off on their boat last month and have successfully reached Fiji!  Read the account below.


We motored through the Navula reef passage into Fiji first thing yesterday morning, and took a whole day sailing with light headwinds up to where we are anchored now, at Lautoka Port. Our friends from Tauranga on their boat Pandora are anchored next to us, so we joined them for dinner last night – a real dinner with tropical vegetables all chopped, and a small portion of the 1.2m Mahimahi  that we caught about 2 days out from Fiji. Looking forward to watching the video of catching that again, it was the biggest fish we had ever caught and seeing it madly flapping in the cockpit was intense! We both felt a bit guilty killing it, but soon semi justified it thinking of how many restaurant fish meals we don’t need to order now.

The people here are so friendly and accommodating, all the official checkin formalities were fairly casual, and we are looking forward to having a look in town and going to the market.

Coming through the passage in the distance we could see perfect huge barrelling waves breaking across the reef of the infamous Cloudbreak surf break and a few floating apartments (catamarans) anchored nearby, the stuff of big budget surf movies. Doubt we will hit that up first. The surf spot ‘swimming pool’s’ sounds more like our thing…

The temperature here is perfect. We have all hatches open with lots of fresh air, and it isn’t too hot. Looking forward to our first swim in a nice clean bay somewhere. The chart shows we are anchored next to a sewer outfall and the water isn’t that inviting turquoise colour here. No doubt we will find a place soon.

We are planning on going to the Vuda marina today for Seiorse’s birthday to meet up with our other Tauranga friend on Messalina for some Fiji Bitters and live music. We wanted to put the boat in the marina to give it a good wash and do washing etc but it is full.

Hoping to get sim cards, cruising permit and a supply of fresh market fruits and vegetables on Monday before starting to explore the outer islands.

It’s good to be here after 10 days at sea, feeling blessed to have had no major problems with the boat, or any bad weather to deal with!!

Love Kat and Seiorse

Follow up on previous blitz!


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 to see G3’s  impressions of this permaculture property when the visited recently.



Blitzing the BOP community one garden at a time