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Adding Clay To Our Soil


SO… we added clay to our beds last autumn, and we grew oats in those beds over winter, and now in mid August we had to remove the oats to put in an early seed crop. We tested the brix of those oats. Their brix was 22 and those around them 19. When we pulled them up there was a very obvious difference to the look of the roots which are very clearly looking for clay to get into!!!!!… a continuing journey to remineralise and create /regenerate our soil to grow high quality food and seeds!

We have light pumice soils so the idea of the clay is to increase the cation exchange capacity to speed up the process of building soil. You can see there are more exudates (sugars) coming out of the plants which why the clay and soil is sticking to the roots.




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Two People Living Off A 200sqm Garden – Plan Included!

Kay’s 200 sq m Garden Plan Created Using the Koanga Garden Planner For Self Reliance in Annual vegetables, seeds and grains



Bob and I have just finished 12 months of eating only our own food, not buying anything from the supermarket at all except for salt (from health supplier) and a handful of organic imported spices.  It was actually fairly easy and we have no intention of changing back to the supermarket, only going forward from here.

We have been on this site for 3 years and the soil was very poor pumice based soil to begin with.

We have built it up using fertiliser based on the work of Dr Carey Reams  and lots of our own amazing compost, as well as recently added clay!.(to increase the cation exchange capacity, and speed up the process of soil building )

We combine Biointensive methods with Biological Agriculture and achieve outstanding results. See Kay’s garden blog for more details.

This year we are going to keep a careful track of everything that goes in and out of this garden, including the brix levels,  and publish that in my monthly garden blogs. We’re still learning a lot from our garden, and loving every minute in it…

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100% of vegetables grains and seeds (eating a Weston Price Diet)

This is a serious attempt to design a garden that supplies all of our  (Bob and myself) annual vegetables, grains, and seeds, including enough for fermenting  and  storing so that we have a diverse range of high brix food year round, in a space that feels possible for us to garden intensively.

Flaxseed - Grown for food as well as a carbon crop
Flaxseed – Grown for food as well as a carbon crop


Seed Saving

It is designed so that  we can save our own seed of almost everything… some things are hard to do in small gardens and seed saving requires co operation amongst neighbours, which we do for those crops… eg brassicas, and some require hand pollination to keep the seed,  eg pumpkins, (alternatively cultivars could be seriously restricted for ourselves and neighbours,  however we choose to have the diversity which feels like luxury and means less likelihood of feeling like diving off to the shop for some ‘junk food’. For people wanting to learn to grow their own food seriously and save seeds in case of economic collapse, this is a real model for self reliance.

Carbon Efficient Crops to Supply All of our Compost needs for high production and Soil Building

The garden is designed so that half of the garden each season is in carbon efficient crops, so that we know we have enough high quality carbon to make enough compost, so that we have 2cm of compost to apply to every bed each time it is planted, which is the optimal amount to be growing soil and producing heavy quality crops.

Crop Rotation

The garden is also designed so that there is a rotation from heavy feeders to roots and legumes to carbon, then carbon again.

Carbon Crops sown in the Autumn: Front right garden bed: Oats and Peas Front left garden bed: lupins


Chicken Food

This garden design also includes 40 sq m of Flour Corn. We grow Bloody Butcher because of the super high levels of  high lignon carbon it produces, and also the weight of corn seed. We mostly use this to sprout and feed to our chickens.  Two years ago when the soil was far less mineralized than it is now we produced 1 kg of dry seed per sq m of bed. I believe we can at least double that if not 3x that weight. we can do that we should be able to produce all the grain needed to feed our chickens, at a rate of   30 gms a day of dry corn which we sprout to become 70 gms per day of sprouted corn. We have the chickens in a forest garden also designed to produce a lot  of chicken food, as well as serious soldier fly farms.

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Food to Give Away

As our  soil gets better and better our beds are producing heavier crops and at this size garden we are sure we’ll have a lot f vegetables in season to give away to family and friends and neighbors


This garden has some built in income streams. I will be saving several seed lines to sell to Koanga tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, corn and carrots, as well as 20 sq m to plant into winter vege to supply Koanga with veges for the Spring PDC

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Perennial Vegetables

As well as this 200 sq m annual vege garden we have 50 sq m of perennial vegetables including  8m of  Purple asparagus, 5m of Purple Globe Artichokes, 4m of Seakale, 1m of Welsh Bunching onions and  2m of Rhubarb.


Koanga Garden Planner

This style of crop rotation and planning is explained in detail in the Koanga Garden Planner. This is a must have if you want to get serious about your home garden!


View The Garden Plan!

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If the idea of growing all your own food sounds exciting you should definitely consider attending one of our upcoming courses.

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Once in a Blue Moon!


This weekend marks many things for me. It is a big weekend. For one we’ll be holding a party… we’re celebrating the fact that we will own the ‘Home Block’ here on this land with no mortgages… all paid for by settlers who are coming to live here over the next year and by a few friends and supporters. That is huge for us and for the Koanga Institute after 5 years of it being really difficult and very stressful keeping the Institute going, and seeds alive. … I can’t say how much I appreciate all those of you who have helped us on this journey and who have watched from afar and sent in good vibes and emails etc etc. There are lot of us working for the good and the connections becoming stronger and stronger, I really feel that…. that is what makes the ‘web of life’.

Bob and I will also be celebrating 1 year of not buying any significant food at a supermarket. Bob and I and every body who has eaten meals cooked by me, have had food from this land only plus salt and olive oil, and a few spices.. cinnamon mainly, as well as apples from our local organic growers, whose wonderful produce we are lucky to have so close.. Actually, believe it or not it has been easy mostly. I can’t imagine ever going back to buying food, we should have done it years ago, we really could have. It’s an addiction or a habit or both once you have your own fruit, vege, milk and meat and eggs. There’s not much else needed.

I have put more of a focus in my garden on things like dried beans and peas.. which I’m enjoying more and more as I learn how to prepare them in ways my body likes! My favourite dried beans are Dalmatian Peans.. I think they are my favourite green beans too, they are what are called ‘sugar’ or ‘frost ‘ beans because they require along season and give most of their crop at the end of the season once it cools down. Check the website for more info on these, they are well worth a try. German Sugar beans are similar, as are Norridgewok Peans also available through Koanga. My favourite peas are those that are eaten as dry peas, eg Capucjyners and Dalmatian peas Whero peas and Blue peas. Now that we know we can actually grow these peas up Broad beans stalks and mixed in with oats being grown as a seed or carbon crop we’ll grow as many as we can simply by under planting other crops. I’m also a huge fan of Flaxseed (Essene) and Hulless barley. We grow these two crops every year and enjoy them more and more. So the set of seed crops we grow and relish is getting linger Austrian Hulless pumpkin seeds, Essebe Flax seed, Hulless barley, dry peas, dried beans. If you go here to the Weston Price Foundation website they have an excellent article with all the science on how long and at what temperature we need to soak our grains in order to remove the phytates.. very interesting!

The part that has been a challenge for me is that I was too busy to do a good job of the garden last Autumn and we have a very narrow range of vegetables this winter, on top of that it has been a very cold winter here, and on top of that the soils we are growing our food in are badly demineralized and it is a journey to sort that. We’re doing really well however with all of those things on top of each other right now, I’m not feeling as though I’m getting all the nutrition I need. I’m very aware that this is an issue we all need to be aware of when closing circles and eating more and more locally. It is easily possible we can miss out on key minerals or phytonutrients because they are not in our local soils, or plants. Indigenous people understood that, and ensured they maintained their health by not only following the principles set out by Weston Price Foundation but often also by trading critical highly sought after food items such as seaweed and fish for inland people’s. I’m going to buy karengo until I can source a local supplier as well as fish from a local fisherman for a while and see how I feel. SO…. This is the month to get planting. I’m putting in Essene Flaxseed, Hulless Barley (could be oats ), Broad beans underplanted with Whero peas, and Capucyjners, I’m planting our amazing Pukekohe Long Keeper onion seeds now as well as California Red.

Those of you in warmer climates will be able to plant far more (Moon calendar newly edited and updated!!). I think I’ll leave my early potatoes a little longer so I don’t have so much effort keeping them covered from frost .. but they will need to go in over the next 6 weeks.

In my forest garden I’m planting a few more support species trees, including a patch of basket willows so I can do a lot more weaving next winter, along with a couple of Cornus species which coppice to produce outstandingly bright coloured weaving material. another crab apple.. we love to eat them as well as make vinegar from them…we’ve chopped and dropped all the tagsaste, and planted our seabuckthorn, and it’s feeling pretty full/ Maybe room for a few more shade loving species as we discover them. Our Forest Garden Data base free to all on our website has recently been updated if you’re interested. Our chickens are laying flat out, and my perennial vege bed is al fed and mulched ready for the Spring flush of Purple asparagus, Purple Globe artichokes, and seakale… three of my very favourite vegetables.. that happen to be super nutritious as well as perennials!!!

I’m learning more all the time about Biochar and we make a big effort to turn our bones and all waste paper and cardboard and corn husks etc into char to add to our compost and animal feed. out this amazing research article sent to us by Tim Barker… there is a life time of ideas here!!!!!

So as for all gardeners this past year has come to an end, the new season is here, and we have another opportunity to put into practice what we are constantly learning…. That is the gift of Life… I give thanks for that!

Arohanui Kay