Gimme Shelter

I wrote recently about protecting against the predicted increase in extreme weather events associated with global climate change. Not to carry on too much on this issue, but last Friday I attended a local event organized to give Whanganui residents the opportunity to talk about how we – as individuals and as a community – can address the effects of climate change. Before the break-out sessions, we heard a detailed presentation from a river engineer about how our district and regional councils have made their decisions about flood protection on the Whanganui and other rivers. The long and short of it is that:

In 50 years time, the 200 year flood will be the 100 year flood.
This is not a brain-teaser or a trick question. What this means is that currently the flood with a 0.5% chance of happening in any given year (ie, once every 200 years) will have a 1% chance of happening (ie, once every 100 years) in the year 2060. To make a long story short, our councils have decided to build stop banks to the current 200 year flood level, (which, in 50 years will be the 100 year flood level).
That was a very long way to introduce what I have been up to this week with our new intern from China (via Earlham College, USA) Jiquao.

To make a long story short, we’ve been putting up more wind netting to protect our fruit trees and vege gardens.

The winds here are strong…

…. strong enough to knock the Blacks off of the All Blacks! (A feet the Aussies and French could not do!) And strong enough to burn the leaves of our least protected apple trees.

The prevailing winds come from the northwest and can carry a load of salt from the Tasman Sea. They come over the fence in the photo above (with the green netting) and then are channeled between the house and a 2 meter-high fence where they did the damage to the apple tree in the photo directly above. So Jiquao and I erected two wind buffers yesterday:

the one atop the northwestern fence with green (1 meter); and one where the winds are channeled between the house and the iron fence (black, 1.8 meter).

This area has been used for firewood and other temporary storage and will be the location of our rainwater tank (seen above taking an afternoon nap). But as a good, practicing permaculturist, I have planned this newly fenced area to serve multiple functions as a new paddock for our fowl.

Although our ducks are trying it out today…

It will serve as the winter chook yard while I re-seed their present yard with beneficial grasses and allow it to recover from their scratching.

But, as I noted to begin with, the predictions are for more intense storms, which will include stronger winds. So I have designed and built with this in mind, including heavy duty galvanized wire…

… and shoring up the northwestern fence to compensate for the increased wind load due to the netting.

I know what you may be thinking about this ugly brace sticking into our backyard. But, in fact, it is hidden in the food forest / duck pen between our annual gardens and the back fence.
Aesthetics are still important to us, but anyone will agree there is nothing pretty about a blown down iron fence…or an upright iron fence for that matter. Over time, the wind netting will allow our apple, fig and peach trees, along with their tagasaste nurse trees, to grow taller and hide the iron we have to look at every day. Can’t wait.
Elsewhere on the property we have planted Feijoas (see recent photo in this post) that are wind-tolerant into a living hedge. No need for windbreaks there, as the hedge itself will be the windbreak for what we hope will be a blueberry patch in its lee. Can’t wait.
Peace, Estwing