Posts Tagged ‘shelter


A Short and Snappy Guide to Windbreaks

Why establish windbreaks?

Because they:

— allow gardens to grow without being beaten to death,
— slow erosion,
— increase pasture and production,
— reduce stock losses,
— protect plants,
— habitat for wildlife and insects,
— manage snow,
— can provide fodder, food crops, timber or fuel,
— improve work conditions.

Windbreak components

Height, Density, Orientation, Continuity, Length

Height: Determines protected distance downwind. Wind reduction area will equal ten times the height of the tallest trees used.

Density: Use as many species as possible in your windbreak. Plant them fairly close together, in multiple rows, to form 60-80% of a solid block.

Orientation: Make it perpendicular to the direction of the wind. L U E shapes work well.

Continuity: No large gaps. If you need to put a driveway through, make sure it crosses the wind direction.

Length: Should exceed the height by 10:1.

Good plants for NZ shelterbelts (especially in coastal conditions).

Feijoa, taupata, nz flax, tarata or other pittosporums, karaka, karo, cabbage tree, pohutukawa, ngaio, toetoe.
As always, choose plants that grow well locally.

Some taller native trees that can withstand strong winds

Totara, kahikatea, pukatea, toatoa, tanekaha, tawa

Theme song for this post: Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones. Kept playing in my head the whole time I was writing this. Think of it as a mantra for windbreaking.


Living architecture – amazing plant pictures

Living architectural trees“Plants are amazing: they provide food, air, medicine, and material with which we can create buildings, furniture, and art. But through an ancient yet obscure craft, still-living plants can themselves be turned into bridges, tables, ladders, chairs, works of art, and even buildings. Known variously as botanical architecture, tree sculpture, tree-shaping, tree-grafting, pooktre, arborsculpture, and arbortecture, the craft is, at its essence, construction with living plants.”

See the rest of this incredible photo article at Dark Roasted Blend


Clumping Bamboo

BambooI’m quite the fan of bamboo. It’s incredible stuff. Bamboos are the fastest growing woody plants in the world. One of the more common bamboos (Gigantea) has a tensile strength twice that of steel. Different species are used in construction, ornamental, for medicine, for food, for torture – unbelievably useful. I also love how the wind sounds blowing through it.

I’m trying to do some research into non-running bamboos, a.k.a. sympodial varieties, to provide some shelter. That seems to be the main purpose for growing bamboo in NZ. I’ll be able to use stems as garden stakes, maybe for some building projects and if I get the right variety, to put in my sushi.

Clumping bamboos generally grow slower then the running-type, a.k.a. monopodial varieties. New shoots only develop close to older stems, mainly in autumn, but twice annually in rich soil. They harden over winter and put on leaf growth in spring and summer.

Non-running bamboos (Clumping or sympodial species) available in New Zealand after the jump Continue reading ‘Clumping Bamboo’


Greensulate – Insulation from Mushrooms

In the very cool but very warm plant product category this week, we have Greensulate – a low-cost, rigid insulating board made from mushroom spores.

“The insulation is created by pouring a mixture of insulating particles, hydrogen peroxide, starch, and water into a panel mold. Mushroom cells are then injected into the mold, where they digest the starch producing a tightly meshed network of insulating particles and mycelium. The end result is an organic composite board that has a competitive R-Value a measurement of resistance to heat flow and can serve as a firewall.” (Thanks Sustainable Times)

Spores from oyster mushrooms are used in the board which according to David Blume can be grown on distillers grains. Another part of link in the permacultural chain? Corn – alcohol – distillers grains – oyster mushrooms – earthworms – castings – and insulation board? I may have to get one of these NZ oyster mushroom kits for Christmas.

Watch the video Stop Global Warming by Growing Styrofoam with Fungi on

Read Environmentally Friendly Organic Insulation Uses Mushroom Spores at

Image: Oyster mushrooms by the lovely maggihc @ Dog Hill Kitchen


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