Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Bamboo fun

We have used all of our bamboo harvested from last year. The list of uses is extensive; bed slats, flute, garden fence, pegs, smoke bomb, scaffolding, tee pee poles, mason bee houses, garden stakes, trellis, berry frame, charcoal holders, spoons, cups, awning poles, tree stakes,......and the list goes on.

We will start harvesting over the next few weeks. Just before growing season to make sure the new culms get enough light and do not get damaged. 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Entrance transition

I'm loving the path to the garden at the moment.

You transition off our drive under the Tagasaste (which is full of  Bees, Bellbirds and Kereru), past the Grapefruit,  over the drain and you feel there before you even open the gate.

The narrowing of the path (off the drive), preview of destination and sense of slowing down or arriving always invites me whether I am driving past, going to work or passing through to gather food for a meal.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Comfrey understory

This is my second load of comfrey plantings this month. The first was an understory in my citrus orchard and this is destined for a garden edge.

It is great how easily you can create a dense comfrey barrier by planing out root sections.

Bug houses

As small gardeners start awakening in spring I always try and keep one step ahead with nesting places.

This bug hotel is made especially for mason bees, potters wasps, ladybirds, and lace wings.

Next week I really need to make a few bumble bee nests.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


One weeks growth!!

Our sheep never stay long and the grass just springs back. I love looking back down the paddock where they have been and seeing the growth.

I usually move them daily. If grass is grazed once and not too low it will grow back fast. My favorite feeling is that as it is growing it is pumping a large proportion of the energy it makes back into the soil. These root exudates feed the diverse range of micro organisms who then make nutrients available for the grasses growth. Magic!!!

I like to think this aliveness is helped by the diversity of my pasture and the long rotations that allow things to grow back strongly.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Finishing roof


Yay!! The roof is up. Talk about delays.

We stained all of the timer and then put up the clear light.
It is great having such a big dry outdoor space. As they say when building with earth 'good hat and good boots'. This should do the job.

Next week we will take down our wonderful bamboo scaffolding clear the sight and start on the wall design.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Compost trenches

A lot of my garden beds have trenches down the middle. These are filled with stalks from my carbon crops, and then seaweed, animal manure, wood ash, leaves, weeds............ depending on specific crop needs and what I have at hand.

In-situ composting that creates a diverse habitat for the many decomposers in my garden, feeds my plants and holds onto moisture.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Pest patrol

I love working with my ducks. They have been busy cleaning up slugs and snails while I get some of my beds ready for spring.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Fence design

Based upon needs (people, soil and plants), time and available space we had already decided how big the beds were going to be and how many we needed.

Before the fence was build we did a little design.

Some of the patterns we knew were;
*central access path (people & wheelbarrows).
*duck and rabbit proof . Sheep proof for short durations.
*private garden (destination -not a thoroughfare).
*separate from berry patch & easy berry picking from path by fence.
*compost space.
*gardener approaches from over here (east).
*water on east side.
*shady south edge.
*drive way openness -set back from main driveway (north edge).
*north-south beds for sunshine.
*optimize space.

Next step was fun. We all moved string, fencing standards and bamboo around. The first decision fell into place (bamboo in front right hand corner) and then we had to get the wheelbarrow out!!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Queen bee

Could not capture the Queens but look at the early season Tagasaste flowers that are feeding them.

On these fine winters days you often get Queen Bumble bees coming out of hibernation for food. Tagasast sre one of htese important food sources.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Post bonfire

You can tell there were lots of bows made in the workshop yesterday. We will not need to gather kindling for a while.

The day after the bonfire is always fun.

We rekindle the embers and burn any remaining wood. Then we have toastie pies for lunch and hunt around for any lost arrows that have not burnt too much.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


This year our midwinter bonfire is a little late.

Yesterday was spent clearing out the brickyard and getting ready for a fun weekend.

It is exciting to see the 'flaps up' ready to welcome people.

Friday, 7 July 2017

On the lay again.


Chickens are on the lay again.
This time of the year they are tractoring over Asparagus -weeding and fertilizing.

We swap a bucket of scraps for eggs and the Asparagus is right next to the citrus so is usually topped up with Grapefruit and Oranges.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Upcoming workshops

Natures Gardeners
Cost: $30 -$50 (sliding scale you pay what you can)
Time: 9am-12pm
Date: 3erd Sept
Location: 20 minutes from Whakatane -to be advised on booking.

Come along and explore the many tiny gardeners that work for free in our gardens. The morning will be split into two parts;

1     An active exploration of the diverse animals that carry out some of our gardens essential services (pollination, decomposition and pest control). We will look at their roles, life cycles and how we can ‘invite’ them into our gardens by designing appropriate gardening systems.

 2 We will make some specific animal shelters (mason bee, potters wasp, native bee, earwig, bumble bee…).

The morning will be spent outside in my garden. Please bring a sunhat, secateurs if you have them, a banana box to take home your ‘homes’, some lunch to share and be prepared to get your hands dirty.

For bookings please email louise.shaw@blueduckdesign.co.nz

Earth Building basics

Cost: $30 -$50 (sliding scale you pay what you can)
Time: 9am-12pm
Date: 24th of  September
Location: 20 minutes from Whakatane -to be advised on booking.

Come and explore the basics of earth building. What you learn could help you build a pizza oven, transform the inside of an old shed, or build your own……….?

We will start the morning with a walk around some earth projects (Bathroom, pizza oven, earth retro-fit, earthen plasters) then we will head to the ‘brick yard’ for some making.  We will make some earth bricks to get the feel for the earth mix and then have a go at making cob and some basic earth plasters.
Please bring a sunhat, old clothes and some lunch to share.
If you would like to take some plaster home bring a container with a lid.

For bookings please email louise.shaw@blueduckdesign.co.nz

Friction fire

Guest tutor: Arielle Nikau.
Cost: $30 -$50 (sliding scale you pay what you can)
Time: 9am-12.00pm
Date: 20 August
Location: 20 minutes from Whakatane -to be advised on booking.
Fire has been a part of us since the stone age. It is carried in our myths and 
legends and deep inside of all of us -we all feel it and love playing with it.
This hands on workshop will explore the sacred art of making fire with friction. We will go on a journey through time, explore the patterns and science behind fire and all end up by making a fire kit (bow, hand piece, spindle and base) to take home.

Please bring a sharp pocket knife, old clothes.

Monday, 3 July 2017


Second firing of the year.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Winter sun

Low winter sun angles mean it is time to change the angle of our solar pannels.

I love the wild plants growing around this suntrap. Avacado, Bamboo, Banana, Fejoa, Yacon, Cerimoya, Pineapple, Pawpaw, Tea.......

I'm especially in love with my clumping Bamboo which has new culms coming up at the moment. I cannot get two of my hands  around the culms. Cannot wait for three years when they have strengthened so we can build with them.

Friday, 9 June 2017


What a way to spend an afternoon. The harbor was beautiful -if very cold.
We caught enough flounder for lunch the next day and then went to the beach to warm our feet around a mid-winter, full moon, musical fire, with friends.
Warmth for the soul as well.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Crop Swap

What a celebration. The first ever Crop Swap in Whakatane. Over 20 gardeners showed up and shared herbs, plants, seeds, fruit and veg.

It is slowly evolving to meet the needs of our town. Today it changed to incorperate Timebank trading. It is going to be fun seeing how this event grows and changes over time.

Cannot wait to see what shows up in a couple of weeks time.

Monday, 29 May 2017


Lucky we had Toby and Finn around to lift the bathroom beam into place.

Things are getting exciting.

This weekend we got both beams up and most of the rafters.

All that thanks to a steady stream of visitors, WOOFers, music and great food.

Friday, 19 May 2017


The colours in our old flax leaves are beautiful. These guys are growing beside the drive so we get to see them every day.

This plant is my one soft weaving flax. The others have a much higher muka content and the bushes are a lot more upright.

Friday, 12 May 2017


A quick gathering session around the farm to show off some of the abundance.
This is the photo used for our first Crop Swap advertising. Thought I would make it authentic by using crops grown in this bio-region in this season.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Kumara harvest

During the growing season Kumara vines should be lifted or they put down roots where they touch the soil. These roots turn into small Kumara and stop the main Kumara from fattening up. The more roots the smaller the Kumara.

I did not do a good job of lifting the vines that were on the beds. I think next year I will put down a thick layer of newspaper in the middle of the beds to discourage these small roots and save the time untangling and lifting vines.

They were put to good use and have made a great addition to our meals.

This year I used a small Broadfork from Crafty Gatherer to dig my Kumara. It made a beautiful job and the beds were then scattered with green manure seeds raked and DONE for winter.

The Kumara were placed in a nest of Kumara vines, covered and left to cure for three days before being individually wrapped and stored in my cob food shed.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Weekend away means music

Packing for a weekend away means making sure the Cajon's, Ukulalie's, guitar's, flutes and of course poi are all packed.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Sausage time

This year we all we made were fresh sausages and bacon.

My favorite flavoring was Kaffir lime leaves, Lemon grass, garlic toasted coconut thread and coconut milk.

Friday, 28 April 2017



We have been getting more and more from this tree.
It is Verde. I only brought three named cultivars.

The named cultivars will give us known fruit, an extended season and fruit quickly. The seedlings will give us more variety in time and are much cheaper.

Friday, 14 April 2017


Wow!!! The water came down and down and down.
Over the last few days I have seen water where I have never seen water before. It was surreal. We paddled our canoes five kilometers down the road. Over fences past sheds and houses all full of floating furniture, tools and the remnants of peoples lives. In some places it was over 3 meters deep.  Neighbors said it took 2 hours for the estimated 1 million cubic meters of water to overtop the stopbanks.
When the water level dropped everything was coated in a layer of silt. We have spent the last week washing, waterblasting and filling skip bins of ruined belongings.

So grateful for clean water, laughter, friends, music, good food and a lifestyle where we can be there for others when needed.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Brick yard

An impromptu design session at the brickyard.

I have been using pallets, hay bales and bamboo to mock up a corner cob seat with drying shelves and a mini rocket stove/kai table.

They were making pots and chatting. I was watching they way they moved in the space and then getting some great feedback.

Shelves moved higher, seat backs turned into a leaning wall and cob seats became wooden storage boxes for clay tools, tea making basics and kindling.

 I will not start this project until spring but it is great to be able to consider the design and see it being used before it becomes final.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Rendered beeswax

The house still smells of honey.
This is the wax harvest for the year.

We have enough hand cream and candles so this will probably be turned into furniture polish, floor wax and I would like to make a set of natural crayons with the colored clay and earthen pigments I have been collecting.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Soup again

Soup again. I love the routine. Light the fire. Everything in the pot. Mornings work then jars in the oven and bottle just before tea time.

Note the cool wooden spoon from Crafty Gatherers. Thanks Marco and Tess -so good not to loose your spoon at the bottom of your soup pot.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Last of the summer peaches

We have peaches from January through to the end of March from local trees where we have collected the seed.

This is the lucky last. Beautiful and juicy.

These ones are on one of our higher paddocks where they get a lot of breeze so miss the fungal diseases some peaches are susceptible to.