Tag Archives: growing avocados

Permaculture Update: Avocado, Pork, Honey and Olive Block

We’ve reached a major milestone in the development of our perennial food systems on Kaitiaki Farm. The fencing is in and we’ve just built our kune kune pigs a shelter in the top corner of our valley horticulture block. (Note the hives in the background.)

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The pigs were very happy to see the new growth as the days get slightly longer.

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The windy hillside has already been planted with olive trees. The higher slopes and stream have been planted with native trees, including many manuka for honey production.

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We have over-wintered the avocado trees to protect them from frost, so they are still in their tubs. They will be planted further down the valley in the spring.

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These tagasaste (tree lucerne) will act as nurse trees for the avocados next winter and beyond. By then these little seedlings will be over 1.5 metres tall.

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Within a few years this view will be transformed into a textbook perennial polyculture food production system. Can’t wait.

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A huge thanks to our friend and probably NZ’s best permaculture horticulturist, Rob Bartrum. Chu, bro.


Peace, Estwing

Permaculture Four-Dimensional Design Case Study: Creating a Micro-Ecosystem for Avocados in a Marginal Location

Two years ago I started preparing a spot to grow avocados. Last week I planted them.


That’s planning ahead 24 months to plant a tree. This is how it started.


This is how it looked last week.


Why so long? A couple of reasons: Young avos need to be protected from frost and strong sunlight. Older avos will die in poorly drained soils. We have frosts and clay soils, so we built an ‘island’ and planted nurse trees.


The mound provides drainage and the tagasaste provides frost and sun protection. Additionally, the tagasaste provide nitrogen, ‘chop and drop’ mulch, and bee fodder.


The other thing that took so long is that our order with the nursery was placed 20 months in advance. The nursery only grafts and grows to order, and makes sure to provide large enough trees of the highest quality.


Two weeks ago I collected 21 trees: Hass, Reed, Bacon and Sharwill all grafted onto Zutano root stock.


This all represents a huge investment in time, money and resources. We plan to make it pay off by caring for the trees until they are well established, and then pruning them to maintain a manageable height. We’ve planted them with heaps of compost and a thick bed of mulch to keep them from drying out this summer. As the avos grow up we will progressively prune the tagasaste out of existence.


We’ve interplanted our A-types and B-types to assure the best cross-pollination. Our family and our interns love avos, so growing our own will represent a significant savings to our grocery bill. We’ll also have surplus to sell locally.


This long, staged process is what four-dimensional design is all about: looking ahead; making a plan; gathering resources; getting your hands dirty; and, seeing it through to completion. In permaculture one aim is to achieve a yield. We may wait another two years for ours, but it will be well worth it.

48 months for an avocado? You bet.

Peace, Estwing