Author Archives: jason

Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop 2017

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Learn to graft your own fruit trees. Grafting young, and reworking old trees covered in this workshop. You will take home two grafted trees and some fine whittling skills! A good knife is key, let us know if you would like to purchase a grafting knife, I hope to be able to supply them for less than $40 each.

Workshop is 1-4:30pm, 3rd Sept, Waitati, Otago.

Habitate Grafting Workshop 2017

2017 Fruit Tree Training Workshop

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Fruit Trees Training Workshop

Waitati, 23rd July 2017

Hope to see you there!

Anyone on Otago Peninsula keen? We are running the same workshop this sunday 16/7/17 on Allan’s Beach Road, get in touch with Jenny at 021772295, if you are interested
Fruit Trees Training Workshop

Plants We Supply – Plant Descriptions

Monday, May 8th, 2017

See our nursery page / order form for what is available this season


Dessert Fruit is eaten raw, with cheese after dinner if you fancy
Cooker Fruit is eaten cooked
Juicing Fruit makes an exceptional juice
Cider This fruit is known to make a right good cider

Early Early Ripening (February)
Mid Mid Season Ripening (March/April)
Late Late Ripening (April/May)

B, C or D Flowering time group. Different varieties of apple in the same or adjacent groups will pollinate each other
SF Self Fertile. This variety will pollinate itself
PSF Part Self Fertile. This variety will partly pollinate itself, but will produce best with a pollinator nearby
Trip Triploid. This variety will not pollinate other apple trees at all, but requires a pollinator (a SF variety if you are to only have two apples).

ALL images and descriptions are given in good faith. Variation will occur with location.


ADAM’S PEARMAIN – Dessert – Late – C – Large , conical fruit with a red flush and attractive russet. Flesh is crisp, sugary, nutty and richly flavoured. Tree is medium vigour, spreading and a good cropper. Hardy, recommended for areas with cooler summers. Partial tip bearer. Norfolk, UK, 1826

Adam's Pearmain Apple






AKANE – Dessert / Cooking – Early – D – Small to medium, flat-rounded, coloured deep red. Juicy, crisp, slightly chewy and sweet/acid with a slight strawberry flavour. Keeps flavour and shape when cooked. The fruit hangs on the tree for weeks allowing a long picking period. Medium vigour tree, good cropper. Healthy, reliable. Japan, 1937

Akane Apple






BEAUTY OF BATH – Dessert – Early – C – Small to medium, flat-round. Bright red stripes and flush. Juicy, sweet and fairly sharp, aromatic with a distinctive flavour. Very Early. Vigorous, upright spreading form, crops heavily. Tip bearer. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Healthy. Bath, Somerset, UK, c1864

Beauty of Bath Apple






BELLE DE BOSKOOP – Dessert / Cooking, Cider – Early – C – Triploid – Versatile medium-large, gold fruit, flushed orange-red, with a fine russet. Crisp, firm flesh, with a sharp, aromatic flavour. Eaten raw mid season. Cooked early season it makes a thick golden and pink puree, with great flavour. Makes good cider. Stores well. Vigorous, spreading tree, a good cropper. Tolerates high and low rainfall. Healthy & reliable. Named after the small community of Boskoop, Holland, 1856

Belle de Boskoop Apple





BRAMLEY’S SEEDLING – Cooking – Late – D – Triploid – The classic English cooker. Large, flat-rounded fruit with an irregular ‘blocky’ shape and greenish-yellow skin. Juicy, firm, sharply acidic flavour. Cooks to a puree, retaining its good strong acidic flavour. Keeps well. Very vigorous, spreading form, part tip bearer. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Nottinghamshire, UK, 1809-1813

Bramleys Seedling Apple





BROWNLEES RUSSET – Dessert / Cooking – Late – C – SF – Medium, short-round-conical, green/brown with a soft ocre russet. Sweet-sharp, aromatic, nutty, intense fruity flavour, juicy, crisp, firm. Great eating despite its dull looks. Keeps well. Medium vigour, upright. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Tolerates high rainfall, hardy, healthy. Hertfordshire, UK, c1848

Brownlees Russet Apple





CHARLES ROSS – Dessert / Cooking, Juice, Cider – Early – C – PSF – Medium to large, conical fruit flushed orange/red with bright red stripes. Juicy, firm, sweet flesh with a good aromatic flavour. Keeps shape when cooked, juice/cider is medium sharp. Moderately vigorous, upright spreading stocky branches, good cropper. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Tolerates high rainfall. Berkshire, UK, c1890

Charles Ross Apple





CORNISH AROMATIC – Dessert – Late – D – Medium-large, conical, ribbed and very distinctly five crowned. Bright red flushed with darker red stripes. Some Russet. White firm flesh. Has a fine sweet-sharp aromatic, good, nutty, almost spicy flavour. Tree is vigorous, hardy and prefers warm, wet climate (think Cornwell! Therefore suits coastal climes). A very healthy tree resistant to black spot and canker. Cornwall, first described by Sir Christopher Hawkins in 1813

Cornish Aromatic Apple





CRAB APPLE – Cooking – Late – Intense colour and good sharp flavours from this small deep red crab apple. Abundant fruit on a healthy tree with red leaves and stems.

Crab Apple





DISCOVERY – Dessert – Early – C – Medium, flat-round fruit, flushed bright blood red. Firm flesh, crisp, stained pink, fairly sweet, juicy and good flavoured with a strawberry hint. Very Early. Keeps well for an early apple. Medium vigour, crops well from an early age. Tends to tip bearing and requires little pruning. Blossoms frost tolerant. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Tolerates low rainfall areas. Healthy and reliable. Langham, Essex, UK, Raised circa 1949 by Mr Dummer

Discovery Apple





EGREMONT RUSSET – Dessert / Juice – Early – B – PSF – The classic russet. You haven’t tried a russet? They are deliciously unlike a modern apple! Medium, flat-round, gold, slight orange flush with an ochre russet. Firm, crisp, sweet flesh with a very good nutty aromatic flavour. Makes good rich juice. Moderately vigorous, upright, compact, precocious, reliable, good cropper, suited to pot culture, blossom is frost tolerant. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Possibly Sussex, UK, first recorded it in 1872

Egremont Russet Apple





EPICURE – Dessert – Early – C – PSF – Small, round-conical, dark orange-red flush, thick red stripes. Juicy, crisp, slightly aromatic, delicate, excellent refreshing flavour. Hardy tree, precocious, spur bearer, heavy cropper, blossoms frost tolerant. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Laxton Bros., Bedford, UK, in 1909

Epicure Apple





FORTUNE – Dessert – Early – C – PSF – Medium, round-conical, striped and flushed red, russet netting. Firm flesh, sweet, juicy, slightly aromatic and rich when fully ripe. Juice is medium sharp. Moderately vigorous tree, hardy, precocious, good cropper, part tip bearer, blossom frost tolerant. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Healthy. Laxton Bros., Bedford, UK in 1904

Fortune Apple





GRENADIER – Cooking, Juice, Cider – Early – C – PSF – Large, round-conical, ribbed, greenish-yellow fruit. Firm, fine textured, crisp and sharp. Fluffy when cooked, with an excellent sharp flavour. Very early. Medium vigour, compact, hardy tree. Heavy cropping, tip bearer. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Tolerates a wet soil and climate. Healthy. Slough, UK, c1862

Grenadier Apple






HETLINA – Dessert – Mid – Medium sized, attractively coloured fruit with a bright red blush. Flesh is refreshing, crisp and firm. Reputed to contain high levels of riboflavins and other health-promoting vitamins. Healthy tree with an upright habit. Originated in Czechoslovakia

Hetlina Apple





IRISH PEACH – Dessert – Early – B – Medium, yellow fruit flushed with red. Juicy, crisp, sweet-sharp with an excellent aromatic flavour. Vigorous, good very early cropper. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Sligo, Ireland, c1819

Irish Peach Apple






KIDD’S ORANGE – Dessert – Late – D – Medium sized conical fruit. Yellow/gold, flushed deep crimson with dark stripes. Variable russet. Juicy and crisp, with a sweet-sharp, rich, aromatic flavour. Stores well. Medium vigour tree with an upright, compact shape. Spurs freely, good reliable cropper. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Dislikes wet areas. Healthy tree. New Zealand, 1924 bred by James Hatton Kidd

Kidd's Orange Apple





LADY SUDELEY – Dessert – Mid – D – PSF – Medium-large, round-conical fruit, striped bold red. Flesh is cream-yellow, quite sweet, juicy, firm, with a good aromatic flavour. Moderately vigorous tree, a, good cropper, spurs freely, part tip bearer, suited to pot culture. Blossom is frost tolerant, recommended for areas with cooler summers. Kent, UK, 1849

Lady Sudeley Apple






LAWFAM – Dessert – Mid – C – Medium to large, round-conical, with very dark scarlet-maroon skin. Firm white flesh, crisp, sweet, melting with a strawberry / vinous (grape like) hint. Vigorous, spreading, heavy cropper. Canada (ott), 1898

Lawfam Apple





LIBERTY – Dessert – Late – C – Medium, round to conical fruit, flushed and striped bright red. Juicy & crisp with a good sweet-sharp flavour. Vigorous and spreading, fruits young and is a good, regular, reliable cropper. Healthy, tolerates high rainfall. New York, USA, 1974

Liberty Apple





MERTON RUSSET – Dessert / Juice – Late – C – Medium sized, conical, golden fruit with a fine cinnamon russet. Flesh is firm and sweet/sharp with a unique spicy, lemon / pineapple flavour. Very Late. Stores well. Vigorous, heavy cropper. Raised 1921 by John Innes, Hort Institute

Merton Russet Apple





PEASGOOD’s NONSUCH – Dessert / Cooking – Mid – C – PSF – Very large, round fruit. Yellow with broad broken red stripes. Eaten raw is sweet-sharp, juicy and aromatic. Cooks beautifully to a delicate, fluffy puree texture with a good sweet-sharp flavour. A medium vigor, very hardy tree that spurs freely. A reliable, good cropper. Originally grown by the young Mrs Peasgood at Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK, from seed sown in about 1858

Peasgood's Nonsuch Apple





PRIMA – Dessert / Drying – Mid to Late – C – Medium sized, round, yellow with a bright red blush and faint stripe. Fine grained yellow flesh, crisp and juicy with a rich fruity flavour. Vigorous tree, good cropper. USA, 1957

Prima Apple





REINETTE DU CANADA – Cooking – Late – D – Triploid – Medium to large, round-conical, yellow/gold fruit with a slight orange flush and russet netting. Pale cream, firm flesh. Cooks to a stiff puree that is sweet and rich. Keeps well, high vitamin C. Vigorous, good cropper. France

Reinette du Canada Apple





RIBSTON PIPPIN – Dessert / Cooking – Late – C – Triploid – Medium sized, round-conical golden fruit, striped red. Flesh is pale yellow, firm and juicy, with an aromatic, intense, rich, flavour. Very high vitamin C content, keeps well. Medium vigour tree, precocious, good cropper. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Yorkes, UK

Ribston Pippin Apple







SPARTAN – Dessert – Late – D – SF – Medium sized, round-conical fruit, smooth skinned, flushed deep maroon red. Flesh is a contrasting pure white, crisp and very juicy with a sweet-sharp, aromatic strawberry/melon/vinous (grape like) flavour. Hardy, vigorous tree that spurs freely, blossom is frost tolerant. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. British Columbia, Canada. 1926

Spartan Apple






SUNSET – Dessert – Mid – SF – Small-medium sized round fruit, golden, flushed orange and striped red with russet patches. Firm, crisp, fine textured, moderately juicy and sweet-sharp flesh with a good intense aromatic flavour. Medium vigour tree, compact, suited to pot growing. Spurs freely. Regular heavy crops. Blossom tolerant of frost. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Prefers a dry cool climate. Kent, UK, c1918

Sunset Apple






TYDEMAN’S LATE ORANGE – Dessert – Late – D – Medium sized, round-conical fruit. Golden, with an orange-red flush, striped red with russet netting. Firm, crisp, fairly juicy flesh, sweet, with a good, rich, sub-acid, aromatic flavour. Keeps well. Vigorous, slender branches, spurs freely, good cropper. Blossom is frost resistant. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Prefers a dry climate. Healthy. East Malling Research Station, Kent, UK, 1930

Tydemans Late Orange Apple






MOORPARK – Dessert / Cooking / Bottling – Early – SF – Delicious richly flavoured apricot. Healthy tree, suited to hot dry conditions. The best apricot for coastal climates.

Moorpark Apricot







BLACK BOY – Dessert / Cooking – Late – SF – Medium sized, port wine skinned fruit. Flesh is mottled white and red, delicious raw, stewed or bottled. Resistant to leaf curl – the best peach for coastal areas.

Black Boy Peach








BEURRE HARDY ($40)- Dessert – Mid – D – Triploid- Medium to large fruit, yellow skin with a fine cinnamon russet. Smooth, melting, buttery and very juicy flesh. Rich aromatic flavour. Vigorous, healthy tree, quite hardy. Regular heavy crops in a warm location. France, 1820

Beurre Hardy Pear






CONFERENCE – Dessert / Cooking – C – Medium to large long necked fruit, green with russets spots. Sweet, very juicy flesh, smooth, pleasant flavour. Can be eaten from crunchy to soft, giving it a long season. Cooks and bottles beautifully. Moderately vigorous, spurs freely, hardy, regular, reliable crops. Recommended for areas with cooler summers. Berkenshire, UK, introduced 1894

Conference Pear








STARKRIMSON – Dessert / Cooking – D – Medium sized fruit with wine red skin Flesh is white, firm, fine grained, crisp, sweet and very juicy with a slightly sub-acid flavour. Great for canning. Vigorous, upright, hardy, very good cropper. Missouri, USA, c1950

Starkrimson Pear






WILLIAM’S BON CHRETIEN (BARTLETT)- Dessert / Cooking – Early – D – SF – Medium-large, golden-yellow fruit with red streaks on sunny side. Very smooth flesh, juicy, sweet and sub-acid. It has a good, strong flavour. Great eaten raw, and the worlds most popular bottling pear. Moderately vigorous, fairly hardy, good crops. UK renamed Bartlett in USA

Conference Pear







ANGELINA BURDETT- Dessert – Early – SF Pollinator: Greengage – Medium sized, blue – black, flesh greenish – yellow, very juicy, good flavour, hangs well on tree. Greengage type.

Angelina Burdette Plum






BILLINGTON’S – Dessert / Cooking – Early – Pollinators: Santa Rosa, Wilsons Early SF – Small, dark red skin, light red firm flesh, good flavour, good cooker, clingstone. Reliable cropper.

Billingtons Plum






Burbank Plum









STANLEY PRUNE – Dessert / Drying – Early – SF – Medium sized, dark blue, freestone fruit, oval in shape, flesh is yellow, juicy, sweet and very good quality. Vigorous tree, late flowering, hardy, reliable and a good cropper

Stanley Prune






WILSON’S EARLY – Dessert / Cooking – Early – Pollinators: Billington’s, Santa Rosa – Small fruit (bigger if thinned), bright red, flesh yellow, juicy, tart, clingstone. Medium vigour tree. Very early, very reliable. (Japanese type)

Wilson's Early Plum







Quince ‘Orokonui’- A fantastic quince variety found in Waitati. Medium size fruit, healthy tree.

Waitati Quince





Elderberry Tree

Make your own Elderflower Champayne, Cordial, Elderberry wine, syrup. Many other medicinal uses. A hardy multifunctional tree.


Albany Surprise

Albany Surprise Grape






Blackcurrant ‘Kimberly’






Blackcurrant ‘Goliath’







Invicta – Large Green, mildew resistant

Invicta Gooseberry





Pax – Red, nearly thornless

Pax Gooseberry





Herbaceous Companion Plants

DWARF COMFREY – Symphytum ibericum

Dwarf Comfrey





RUSSIAN COMFREY – Symphytum x uplandicum

russian comfrey






15-20mm diameter x 100-1500mm high
Ready for your spring grafting

Apple – Vigorous M793

Apple – Medium M106

Apple – Dwarf M26

Pear – BA29 Quince (requires an interstock, Purchase Beurre Hardy to graft incompatable varieties onto)

Golden Queen Rootsock – For grafting: Apricots, Peaches & Plums N/A 2017

Informational Resources

VEGETABLE PLANTING CHART FOR COASTAL OTAGO / SOUTHLAND An easy to read wall chart showing which months vegetables can be sown direct, into trays or planted as seedlings. Succession planting and much more information… Put it on your fridge or in the potting shed for quick reference. The visual chart format helps with planning your yearly vegetable planting. A3 – Printed on robust recycled card

Calendar Promotional












EDIBLE & USEFUL TREES AND SHRUBS FOR THE DUNEDIN AREA – “A fine selection of multifunctional plants suited to organic and permaculture plantings in town and countryside.” Extensive tables of trees and shrubs give information on botanical name, size, multiple uses and preferred conditions. This is great starting point for further research into useful plants for coastal climates in the South of the South Island. Plant lists are provided for: Fruit, Nuts, Vegetable Uses, Edible Flowers, Animal forage, Chicken Forage, Bee Forage, Timber, Coppice, Dye, Shelter, and Nitrogen Fixing. 32 page booklet, by J. Ross, 2002.



































Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2017

Monday, March 6th, 2017

We hope that you can come to our open day, tour our nursery and Taste Nature Gardens, taste some apples and apple juice straight from the press and share in a potluck picnic.

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2017

Sunday 19th March 1-4pm

Behind the old general store 36 Harvey Street, Waitati.

Tours at 1.30pm

Apple Tasting Table at 2.15pm

Potluck Picnic

Taste Nature Gardens are a beautiful and diverse organic market garden, supplying Taste Nature – Dunedin’s organic shop

Habitate Nursery Catalogue Release for Habitate Nursery: A mail order nursery supplying quality organically grown frtuit trees and berry bushes – tasty, easy to grow varieties for home orchards


share this event with friends:

See you there, Jason

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2017

Edible Zen Garden

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Water Bowl In Zen Garden

Water Bowl by Moira Crossman In Zen Garden


Want a peaceful sanctuary at home? One that incorporates edible and medicinal plants? Here a sunken courtyard for relaxing at the front of the house and vegetable beds, glasshouse, chickens, berries and fruits out the back surrounding a sleep out. The Zen garden theme was used throughout with edible plant forms, colour and combinations used to give a informal but balanced feeling.

“We are so stoked with the plan. I especially like how you were able to get the straight lines and the curves as well – i know the squareness of it was kind of challenging. Very blessed thanks.”

“Front is beautiful now and when trees and garden grow will be exquisite. We love your design.”

With exquisite detailing, and using recycled stone and timber, the installation of the front garden was managed by the owner in Winter 2016. We sourced the plants and worked together on planting Spring 2016

Tea Camelia in Zen Garden

Tea Camelia in Zen Garden. Local stone slabs and Macrocarpa seating

Zen Garden Sunken Courtyard

Zen Garden Sunken Courtyard

Water Bowl by Moira Crossman

Water Bowl by Moira Crossman

Pink Maple with Pamela & Hebe

Pink Maple with Pimelia & Hebe

Edible Zen Garden Planting Plan

Edible Zen Garden Planting Plan

Making the pathway

Making the pathway

Before PHOTO

Before PHOTO

Edible Zen Garden Back Yard

Edible Zen Garden Back Yard – Yet to be developed

Kowhai Grove – Malcam Trust

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

We were commissioned in 2016 create a Permaculture Masterplan for Kowhai Grove, a project run by the Malcam Trust in Dunedin. Annika Korsten is directing the project, primarily as a base for student of the Hands On program that she runs, which introduces 16-24 year olds to farm and horticulture work. Annika envisages other groups getting involved with specific aspects of the project as it develops – contact her if you want to get involved!

Permaculture teacher Peta Hudson fascilitated gathering insights from previous program participants and we pulled this together with Annika’s ambitious vision for a thriving diverse organic horticulture centre.Kowhai Grove Masterplan

Annika Kowhai Grove

Annika Korsten – Kowhai Grove, Taieri Plains, Otago

Vegetable Garden Area

The area to be developed into an intensive organic market garden




Permaculture Orchard Central Otago

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

A highly productive diverse permaculture orchard was called for on three sides of this new build in Tarras, Central Otago. We worked closely with the exact contours of the site to lay out orchard rows to fit the landscape while providing many functional solutions. Water runoff from the drive run may be fed into them for re-charging soil water. The linear beds are easy to mow along, provide space for planting support species for nitrogen fixing, accumulation of minerals, producing mulch and feeding beneficial insects.

Planting is zoned with summer fruits close to the house and Walnuts, chestnuts and Oaks further away. A clearing is created in the nut area for picnics. Rows are designed to ripen sequentially for ease of harvesting and to aid post harvest management. Kowhai and other natives are used alongside Italian Alder in the shelter planting. Nitrogen fixing Elaeagnus are integrated within the orchard.

Permaculture Orchard

The masterplan shows how the contour rows serve to screen the road and lead you from the house towards the old existing fruit trees.

orchard site before

The orchard site before planting, looking dry in high summer.

shaping orchard swales

Contour swales are shaped in autumn.

Brett Shaping Swales

Swales are finetuned by hand at planting time.

planting watering training

All trees are staked and trained at planting.

planting nut orchard

A curve of hazel nut trees form the back of the nut orchard picnic area.

Tarras orchard planted

Overview of the planted orchard.

contour swales olives

Meanwhile over the other side of the house on a steep dry bank we installed swales and planted olives and berry fruits.

olives contour swale

Olives planted in the swale.

old fruit trees pruned

We pruned these beautiful old fruit trees to improve fruit quality.

plum blossom

Blossom out at the end of the day.


Small Scale Chicken Workshop

Monday, September 12th, 2016

permaculture chicken workshopSunday 16th October

10-3pm Waitati

This workshop is hosted by Otago Organics and will be tutored by Nick Holmes and Jason Ross

Learn from two established and unique chicken designs; a home flock ranging a quarter

acre berry garden and orchard, and a farm flock rotating with in a small-scale organic

market garden and orchard.

$50 ($45 Otago Organics Associate Members).

Pot luck lunch.

To book or find out about other great events run by Otago Organics email Rayna

or call ormtext0275323236



2016 Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Fruit Tree Grafting Workshopfruit tree

learn how to graft your own fruit trees
how to graft new trees and old trees

you will receive:
one apple tree rootstock (m106 or m26)
bag and saw dust for packing of rootstock
grafting tape
a choice of a large range of
apple tree cuttings to graft with
(delicious,disease resistant heritage varieties)
you can bring your own cuttings to work with
(instructions provided on registration)


1-4:30pm 4th Sept 2016
hot tea provided

tutor : jason ross :
$50 + bookings essential – additional rootstock $10
or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves
very sharp flat bladed knife
sequateurs,loppers, saw
apple tree cuttings to graft (optional)


2016 Fruit Tree Training & Pruning Workshop

Monday, July 25th, 2016

2016 Fruit tree training workshopfruit tree

pruning, planting & care

maximise crops & minimise work
by training tree branches
to horizontal
a range of fruit trees
and berry fruits covered
young and old trees

demonstration and hands on learning
+ theory for beginners


1-4:30pm 7th August 2016
hot tea provided

tutor : jason ross :
$50 + bookings essential
or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves
sequateurs,loppers, saw








Fruit Tree Planting, Training & Pruning Guide

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Care of your Bare Rooted Plants

Bare rooted plants can be kept in their packaging for a few days. Keep them cool and moist by watering the root ball in the packaging, swishing the water around, and then tipping the water back out.

If there is to be a delay of more than a few days before planting, heel the plants in: Soak the roots for 15 minutes in water with a dash of liquid fertiliser. Place bundles into trenches of moist earth and loosely cover the roots with soil.


Planting Preparation

Prep Holes: We recommend that you re-prepare planting holes in March/ April ahead of receiving your trees. Dig in mineral amendments and compost into the topsoil in a 0.6-1.0m diameter and 20cm deep. Deeper is not better!

Animals: Fence from browsing animals otherwise you are buying very expensive animal feed! If Rabbits or Hares are present your trees will need trunk sleeves to 70cm. Fencing animals out? Perhaps you can design this infrastructure to also rotate beneficial animals within the orchard?

Shelter: The orchard site must be sheltered. On a windy site this shelter should be established at least a year ahead. If planting shelter the same year as the fruit trees use very fast species and consider planting not only the perimeter but also within the orchard with shelter trees.

Soil: A depth of around 20cm of topsoil is enough for most fruit trees. If drainage is an issue plant on a shallow mound or a swale berm. Balance soil minerals over the whole orchard area with mineral amendments.

Fruit Tree Planting GuidePlanting Guide

Plant bare root trees and shrubs from Late June till late August.

  1. Soak the roots for 15 minutes before planting in a very dilute liquid fertiliser.
  2. Check the root ball dimensions and dig a hole twice their diameter and only 50mm deeper than the root ball depth (measured from uppermost roots to lowest).
  3. Drive in two 1.5m x 50x50mm Macrocapa stakes 50cm apart in the hole.
  4. Make a pyramid mound of good topsoil in the middle of the planting hole and spread the roots of the fruit tree over this. Adjust the height of the mound so the tree sits with its uppermost roots just below soil level. Check this by putting a straight stake across the planting hole.
  5. Mix good topsoil from the hole with maximum 10% mature compost. More is not better!
  6. Using your fingertips pack this mix around the tree roots in layers, spreading the roots horizontally as you go. Check uppermost roots end up just below soil level. Water well.
  7. Make a generous ‘doughnut’ of compost/manure/seaweed/organic matter around the tree so that it is fed slowly from above. If there are perennial weeds around the tree, such as couch grass, apply a thick layer of newspaper or a double layer of cardboard, (well overlapped), under this doughnut. Cover with a mulch of native and /or deciduous tree chips, this will feed beneficial soil fungi. Keep mulch etc away from the tree trunk.
  8. Tie the tree about half way up with a loop attached to each stake. Allow the tree some movement.
  9. Water well.
  10. We recommend leaving most fruit trees un-pruned at planting. Only head back (cut back) the leader if you intend to create a vase shaped tree (a shape often used for stone fruit) or have a very windy site and want to train your central leader tree from a lower starting height.


Water weekly as needed for the first couple of months and then as needed in dry periods.

Surface feed and mulch each winter (under mulch) and watering in accordance with your soils needs and the plants growth. Establish appropriate groundcover plants to keep weeds, especially grass, suppressed.

Carefully chosen groundcover and companion plants such as Russian and Dwarf Comfrey, Sweet Cicely and Feverfew can help improve soil structure and fertility. They can also aid with pest and disease prevention.

Pinch off all flowers/ fruit in November until tree is growing vigorously and has strong branches, usually in their third summer you can leave a small crop on. Remove all growth from below the graft union.

Fruit Tree Training & Pruning

Most fruit trees will naturally adopt a central leader shape, with a strong central trunk and near horizontal branches radiating off this. Stone fruit are usually trained as a vase shape (see below).

Central Leader Fruit TreeCentral Leader

Year One: Leave the trunk un-pruned. Prune off any branches below 1m and any competing leaders. In November remove any developing fruit and train down all branches so that their junction with the trunk is near to ninety degrees and the branch is near to horizontal. Tree training rubber bands, twine or notched spacers can be used for this job.

Year Two: August, prune off any branches below 1m and any competing leaders. Prune out completely any dead, diseased or damaged (crossing) branches. Prune out any fruit spurs on or close to the trunk and any on the lower side of branches. Training aids from November may be removed now if the branches stay in the horizontal position. In November thin out all fruit except one or two near the trunk.

Year Three: Repeat winter pruning, take out whole branches as necessary to create well spaced branches up the trunk. You may leave more fruit on this year if the tree is sturdy. From now on thin all fruit to one or two fruit per spur.

Vase Shape Fruit TreeVase Shape Trees

Year One: Head back the main trunk to around 1m, either to some good side shoots or good buds. Prune off any branches below 0.8m and any competing leaders (side shoots growing too vertically). In November remove any developing fruit and train down all branches so that their junction with the trunk is near to ninety degrees and the branch is near to 45%. Tree training rubber bands, twine or notched spacers can be used for this job.

Year Two: August, select four strong branches to be your main vase structure. Prune off any branches below 0.8m and any vertical shoots surplus to your four main branches. Prune out completely any dead, diseased or damaged (crossing) branches. Prune out any fruit spurs on or close to the trunk and any on the lower side of branches. Training aids from November may be removed now if the branches stay in the 45% position. In November thin out all fruit except one or two near the trunk.

Year Three: Repeat winter pruning, take out whole branches as necessary to create well spaced vase of four branches from the main trunk. You may leave more fruit on this year if the tree is sturdy. From now on thin all fruit to one or two fruit per spur.

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2016

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2016We warmly invite you to our annual nursery open day, this year its combined with Taste Nature Gardens (

Bring a blanket and soak up the goodness of this diverse and beautiful productive permaculture property.

Dont miss the fruit tastings of heritatge fruits and our 2016 catalogue release.

Courtyard + Wildflowers + Herbs + Key hole Vegetable Beds

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Keyhole shaped raised vegetable beds and herbs are placed close to the kitchen in this steep city garden. Ornamental plantings are inspired by wildflower meadows and are beautiful and brilliant for bees and insects too.

Planting was completed  September 2016 so we look forward to the plants filling in. In early 2015  we completed a full section concept plan for the property and constructed the courtyard, gardens and orchard over 2015-16.

The garden is pretty special, with stone walls, mortise and tenon redwood pergola, corten steel steps, macro keyhole vegetable beds, herbs, ornamental garsses and a micro orchard. The owners were very sad to unexpectedly have to leave “The number one item on our list of reasons to stay was the wonderful garden you built for us, and which we have enjoyed mightily, particularly for the past 3 summers.” Their real estate agents like it too:

Patio with wildflowers


Vegetable Beds Before and After

Vegetable and Herb Beds: Before (Left) and After (Right). We created these macrocara raised beds in keyhole shapes that fit into the hillside and allow easy all around access to the beds. They also give maximum garden bed area in a small space. Planted as soon as they were completed in November they have been very productive in their first summer.


Keyhole Vegetable Beds

Here ornamental grasses combine with herbs, softening the front of the raised vegetable beds.

Culinary Herbs & Grasses

The path to the glasshouse.

Courtyard wildflowers Coneflowers & Lemon Balm


Echinacea is an exquisite North American medicinal prairie plant, it combines beautifully with ornamental grasses and is loved by bees and butterflies.

Pergola & Lights

A Redwood & Macrocapa pergola with a built in bench seat provides a sense of enclosure and screening from the street.

Pergola End & Stone Wall


Chokeberry – delicious berries and beautiful autumn colour

Entry Path

Sweeping sleeper steps between new stone walls provide a private entrance to the new courtyard. (photo at completion)

Rudbeckia Chocolate

Native Rainbow grass and meadow flowers at the house entry – photo one year after planting

Chocolate Cosmos

Meadow Entry

A bright and naturalistic meadow garden makes for a welcoming street frontage. Native rainbow grass is combined with rudbeckia, chocolate cosmos, red-hot pokers and anise hyssop, providing food and habitat for bees and birds.

Habitate Concept Edible Planting Plan

Our Concept Planting Plan


Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop 2015

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Grafting Workshop 2015

fruit tree



learn how to graft your own fruit trees

how to graft new trees and old trees covered

you will receive:


one apple tree rootstock (m106)

bag and saw dust for packing of rootstock

grafting tape

a choice of a large range of

apple tree cuttings to graft with

(delicious,disease resistant heritage varieties)

you canbring your own cuttings to work with

(instructions provided on registration)


1-4:30pm 30th August 2015

hot tea provided

6th Sept if raining on 30th

tutor : jason ross of

$50 + bookings essential – additional rootstock $10


or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves

very sharp flat bladed knife

sequateurs,loppers, saw

apple tree cuttings to graft

Fruit Tree Training & Pruning Workshop 2015

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Fruit Tree Training & Pruning Workshop 2015

fruit tree


pruning, planting & care


maximise crops & minimise work by training

tree branches to horizontal

a range of fruit trees

and berry fruits covered

young and old trees

demonstration and hands on learning

+ theory for beginners


1-4:30pm 9th August 2015

hot tea provided

16th if raining on 9th

tutor : jason ross of

$50 + bookings essential


or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves

sequateurs,loppers, saw

Human Nature Food Systems Design – Stefan Sobkowiak Workshops

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

In this article I reflect on the Beyond Organic Tour workshops we hosted in April 2015. These were led by Stefan Sobkowiak of Miracle Farms, and covered the principles and concepts used in his Permaculture Orchard.

Reflecting on Stefan Sobkowiak’s workshops in April this year.

It was a great pleasure to host Stefan at Habitate Farm for a workshop on fruit tree training and soils. Thanks to all involved for organising the tour and hosting Stefan, Doreen and James here in Dunedin.

IMG_0970When you are busy on the land it’s a welcome inspiration to have a teacher such as Stefan come and reinforce the principles of permaculture through workshops in your bioregion.

We need well documented examples of permaculture systems and The Permaculture Orchard is probably the best film documenting a commercial permaculture orchard.

Stefan has set up and runs an orchard that produces a quality food for a sizeable customer base.

His customers join as members, then enjoy visiting this beautiful farm, meeting each other and browsing the aisles (rows) to gather food (his is a members-only U-Pick Farm).

For me permaculture is as much about making beautiful inspiring places as it is about the quantity of food produced, so this aspect of his farm was great to see. Flowers are grown, for example, in amongst the productive plants and offered free for customers to pick, adding further delight to the diversity of edibles in each row.

What has made Stefan’s farm successful?

I would say systems design. The basis of permaculture is the conscious design of systems which overlap to form a constructed ecosystem inspired by observed natural ecologies. Stefan has clear, explainable system patterns, that allow for patterned replication and expansion across the farm. Examples are the Nitrogen Fixer-Apple-Pear/Plum trio’s, the ripening-time ordered rows, the tree to shrub to perennial planting patterns, the animal rotations through the rows, the mowing patterns and many more.

One of the great achievements is to have taken the benefits of a forest ecology (layers, diversity, predator / beneficial insect and bird habitat, pioneer / support species) and to have patterned them into a system of rows, allowing for ease of management and customer U-pick harvest (the needs of human nature).

The mulch layer

Looking to the mulch layer we find the key to what has allowed all of this to happen with minimal maintenance. A plastic mulch. A simple logical solution and yet so mind-bendingly hard to come to grips with for those of us that associate plastic with environmental degradation.

In Stefan’s system it is allowing large scale diversity and production. Stefan’s is a commercial operation,with irrigation, posts, wires and overhead sprinklers for frost fighting, there is a lot of infrastructure there, why not add a layer of plastic and be rid of untold hours of weeding and instead use that energy for establishing and harvesting the diverse and abundant produce?

There may be some good reasons. I am sceptical as to whether this system would work as well in a coastal New Zealand climate where grass and other weeds grow all year round. So many books and now movies on permaculture are from either sub-tropical or continental climates, we have to take the principles of these ideas and examples and not necessarily the techniques. I hope someone, (including myself), tests this plastic system in a coastal New Zealand climate. Unfortunately I have seen too many examples over the years of plastic or weed mat put down permanently on the ground only to be overrun with grass and buried, and then the weeds we are trying to avoid, grow back on top. I have had to remove plastic layers buried amongst ornamental gardens, tangled with roots. It’s a difficult, destructive job.

Stefan has observed worms moving organic matter through holes to underneath his plastic. In local ornamental examples that I have seen this has not happened fast enough, the garden looks brilliant for the first ten years and then plants start to decline, the soil below the plastic layer is starving for organic matter from above.

In this, his latest video, Stefan shows the difference in growth rate where plastic was not used, no competition does make a huge difference.

An alternate system that we are using for orchard/food forest establishment is based on Martin Crawford’s system of using woven weed mat.

We put a strip of weed mat each side of a newly planted row for one or two years and then lift it and immediately plant heavily with carefully chosen varieties. The weed mat if carefully moved can be used again and again to kick start more orchard / food forest rows – perhaps a useful system up to a small commercial scale.

We have a side by side trial with a row that has support species planted and is minimally weeded and only roughly mulched. Growth in the weed matted row is at least thirty percent more after the first year.

Because of our non-stop grass growth the use of animal grazing as the primary understory layer of production has strong appeal. This limits under tree diversity but gives us important animal yields.

Training vs Pruning

I am sold on the tree training techniques that Stefan introduced us to. They are brilliantly systematic and solve many of the issues that I have had with trying to combine heading back of branches and only half training branches down. I look forward to trialling these on new trees and renovating old trees to this system.

Stefan talked a lot about autumn tree planting for good establishment of trees. This year through my nursery I am offering an earlier delivery of our certified organic bare root fruit trees (the end of June) and several customers from Stefan’s workshop have requested this. Hopefully the apple trees believe that autumn is here by then as they are still in full green leaf as I write in mid-May.

I have always pruned back my nursery trees before delivery to around one metre so that they grow strongly and branch low for my home gardener customers. I will leave them un-pruned for anyone wanting to use Stefan’s training system, if so I think you need to ensure little competition, good fertility and consistent moisture to achieve the growth and branching required. Growing Fruit Trees: Novel Concepts and Practices for Successful Care and Management covers the techniques Stefan described.

I look forward to many more well documented evolutions towards our shared vision of beautiful, diverse, productive, perennial polycultures.

Jason Ross


Link to the article on the Beyond Organic NZ Tour Website:

Human Nature Food Systems Design

“Great Gooseberries!”

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Berry Bushes

Order your black currant & gooseberry bushes online now, for june and August delivery.

Great sized healthy plants, at a great price – certified organic with Organic Farm New Zealand.

Beyond Organic – Stefan Sobkowiak Workshops – Habitate Farm April 1st

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Beyond Organics Tour

Internationally recognised speaker and orchardist Stefan Sobkowiak is visiting New Zealand from Canada.

An extensive calendar of 20 events has been created, from Northland to Central Otago.

Twenty years ago Stefan bought a conventional Apple orchard outside of Quebec and over the next few years converted it to organics. Seven years ago he re-designed the orchard using permaculture principles while maintaining the commercial focus.  Many people are experimenting with permaculture but Stefan is one of the few who is earning his living from a permaculture property. Last year a feature length documentary “The Permaculture Orchard” was released about Stefan and his orchard, Miracle Farms.

From March 11th to April 5th 2015 he is travelling from Northland to Central Otago leading a series of talks and workshops as part of the Beyond Organic NZ Tour. This is an opportunity to learn how these productive, profitable, permaculture-inspired practices work.

To book / register please go to calendar of 20 events

Vegetable Planting Calendar for Coastal Otago & Southland

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

This wall chart is invaluable to home vegetable growers. It provides a quick reference guide to sowing and planting throughout the year. Rotation, succession, frost, glasshouse and perennial vegetable information is also presented. The information is specifically tailored to Coastal Otago and Southlands’ unique climate.

Vegetable Planting Calendar








A3 size (28.5×40.5cm) in portrait orientation, printed on sturdy long lasting card. (The illustration  is cropped and not to scale).

Designed, researched and trialed by Jason Ross BFA, Nat.Cert.Advanced Production Horticulture.


Available from these Garden Centres

Brydone Wholefoods6km south of Oamaru on Main South Road in the old Totara Hall

Blueskin Nurseries – Waitati

Taste Nature – High st, Dunedin

South Coast Environment Centre – Palmerston Street, Riverton


If you are a retailer and would like to stock these please contact us:




Resilient City Garden

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

This dunedin family has a long term vision for their small city garden: to set in place strong foundations for a abundant and enjoyable landscape that is long lasting and resilient.

The resulting design that we completed in 2013 for the whole section (both hard landscaping and a planting plan) includes a native garden for birds, a courtyard surrounded by herbs, a sturdy glasshouse and vegetable gardens integrated with fruit trees.

This project is a good example of the benefits of a staged installation where instead of having to get everything done at once we have been able to:

  • Plant in the best seasons
  • Utilise economical and ecological weed removal strategies such as: temporary weed matting to kill off weedy areas and weed piles & use biodegradable weed barriers under garden beds
  • install as budget allows
  • adapt plans as we get to know the site and as the site context evolves
Resilient City Garden Landscape Design

Resilient City Garden Landscape Design – 2013


BEFORE - Slippery, access to the back gardens and sleep out

BEFORE – Slippery, access to the back gardens and sleep out

BEFORE - Sloping grass and rusting glasshouse

BEFORE – Sloping grass and rusting glasshouse

BEFORE - A sunny area with good microclimate

BEFORE – A sunny area with good microclimate

Winter 2014 we started intstallation of the garden. To enhance a narrow and neglected but sunny side of the house we created a wide spaced pergola that will support three varieties of grapes. Also enclosing the narrow walk are summer and autumn raspberries. A central path and glass house went in first as good access was needed to the back section and these also act to define the garden spaces around them.


Grape pergola constructed using mortise and tenon wooden pegged joinery by Man Tamang


Three varieties of grapes will grow over the pergola and down onto the sunny wall for easy picking

Grape & Raspberry alley

Grape & Raspberry alley – 2016


The new glasshouse awaits its glass, the paths a finishing layer of self binding lime chip and the gardens, seeds and seedlings…


Beautiful, local, durable macrocapa edging is used throughout. Macrocapa will not contaminate the sourounding soil where food plants will be grown

Weedmatting on the soil surface for one year to kill weeds

Weedmatting on the soil surface for one year to kill weeds

In spring 2016 we installed terraces on the sunny side of the main house for kitchen herbs and vegetables. We installed a retractable clothes line with recycled paving from on-site. Areas infested with couch weed were mulched with a biodegradable weed barrier (newspaper) and composted and mulched. We planted what we could at this time, more will be planted in winter.

  • Lemon, Feijoa, Lavender, Rainbow grass & Verbena for bees were planted on the sunny bank.
  • Uni – Berry, Chokeberry, Salaal Berry, Japanese Ginger, Rhubarb, Perennial Rocket, Lemon Balm, Lovage, Strawberries, Dwarf Comfrey & Feverfew were planted in the shade of the crab apple tree.
This Elm was a long time family favourite. But too big for its space, shading the house and proposed garden it had to go. It as sensitively removed by Onmi Tree and milled for a kitchen table and for garden bed edging

This Elm was a long time family favourite. But too big for its space, shading the house and proposed garden it had to go. It as sensitively removed by Onmi Tree and milled for a kitchen table and for garden bed edging

Elm half rounds milled on site

Unique curved Elm half rounds were milled on site by Jelte from Omni Tree for use as terracing

BEFORE - Terrace Garden

BEFORE – Terrace Garden

Terrace beds before planting

Terrace beds before planting

Elm half round terrace garden beds and seating - Utilising on site resources for unique and beautiful results

Elm half round terrace garden beds and seating – Utilising on site resources for unique and beautiful results

Path mulching - newspaper and sacking under barkchip

Path mulching – newspaper and sacking under bark chip, a biodegradable weed barrier and path stabiliser

Newspaper weed barrier used under vegetable beds, saving on digging and weed removal

Newspaper weed barrier used under vegetable beds, saving on digging and weed removal

Whakairo Iho Orokonui

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Tree Art

Whakairo-Iho-Orokonui-AboutWhakairo-Iho-Orokonui-11Whakairo-Iho-Orokonui-22Whakairo-Iho-Orokonui-23Whakairo-Iho-Orokonui-2 Planted in 2010 as part of the Dunedin Fringe festival events this living tree sculpture can be experienced during opening hours of Gallery on Blueskin in Waitati, be in quick, it will never be the same again.

In November 2014 at the Waitati Market the trees were successfully woven, we look forward to what happens next.Whakairo-Iho-Orokonui-24

Thanks to Eveline Mimpen and others who spontaneously joined in the weaving

Habitate Holistic Orchard

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

We are planting a new orchard at Habitate Farm this winter – August 2014

The orchard utilises systems design based on beneficial features of natural woodland ecosystems, to create a productive orchard that produced its own fertility and is climate and pest resilient. It shares many features of food forest design but utilises structured pattern design for ease of management.

It will contain around 25 fruit trees and 20 companion trees and shrubs in an area of around 100m2.

The Layout is of four rows running north south.

Row 1 is a permanent raspberry row from which fruit and divisions will be harvested.

Row 2 is a mixed fruit tree row with support trees, shrubs and herbs

Row 3 is a row of support trees, shrubs and herbs which will be pruned for mulch and nitrogen release to the rows either side

Row 4 is a mixed fruit tree row with support trees, shrubs and herbs

The land is flat, silty river flats. Our climate is Coastal temperate where winters are mild and summers are cooled by coastal breezes. Our median summer air temperature is 14 C and our median winter air temperature is around 6 C. Our annual growing degree days (Base 10 C) are around 450. Median frost free period is 250 days. We receive around 900mm of rain fairly well spread throughout the year. So for fruit growing our limiting factor is summer heat. Our best crops come from temperate berries, apples (a huge diversity of), pears and plums.

The layout and permaculture systems design for this orchard are experimental but have strong and diverse production goals – it has to be viable as a prodcutive element of our farm.

Habitate Holistic Orchard Concept Plan.

The orchard aims to:

  • Produce a range of certified organic fruit for gate and direct sales – it must be quick to crop
  • Trial 25+ new varieties (credit to Kristina Hill for variety suggestions and trees). Trialling of: fruit tastiness, disease resistance and suitability to climate. The best of these will find their way into the Habitate – Heritage Fruits Nursery Catalogue and into our local Permaculture Landscape Designs
  • Trial fruit tree training techniques, where branches are trained down to horizontal from the beginning, to induce fruiting. One of which will be the commercial orchard techniques used by Stefan Sobkowiak in his film: The Permaculture Orchard : Beyond Organic
  • A percentage of the trees (possibly every second tree to leave a 4m in row spacing) may be sold and transplanted as 3-5 year old trees, to create space or if our lease on the land ends
  • Produce eggs through the rotation of a chicken flock through the orchard – the chickens are an essential part of the maintenance and fertility system of the orchard.
  • Trial two methods of orchard establishment (see below)
  • Experiment with the question of whether the orchard can produce its own woody organic matter for feeding the silty soil of the site, by planting a central spine of mulch trees within the orchard.
  • The design and layout is to enhance the landscape of Habitate farm, the Holistic Orchard will form an edible woodland edge to the intensive organic market garden. Providing a weed barrier and beneficial insect habitat.

Establishment and Management Systems Design

  • The management design of the orchard is entwined with aesthetic goals. For example: The supporting nitrogen fixing shrubs and trees planted with the orchard for mulch material and to release nitrogen and carbon via their root systems, will be trimmed, coppiced and pollarded to achieve this. This pruning maintenance is an opportunity to utilise and reference appropriate garden styles to add to the aesthetic appeal of the orchard. I am inspired by English cloud pruned hedges and the clipped shrubs of both Japanese and rural Italian gardens.
  • Two orchard establishment techniques are being employed side by side:
  • Rows 1 and 2 will be established using weedmat to kill off the existing grass for the first year and will then be planted with a greater degree and diversity of herbaceous support species.
  • Rows 3 and 4 will be established with the existing grass sward intact, by planting the crop trees, and the support species into circles of grubbed off grass and then by using a rotation of chicken grazing and rough mulching of weeds and prunings, and seed scattering to convert the ecosystem to dominate the grass and create a woodland type soil ecology.


Cropping: Raspberries, Apples, Pears, Peaches

Support / Mulch Trees: Alder (Alnus cordata), Tree Medic, Elderberry

Support / Mulch Shrubs: Elaeagnus ebbingii

Support / Mulch Herbs: Comfrey (Symphytum x Uplandicum and S. Ibericum), Cardoon, Sweet Cicely, Lovage, Feverfew, Nasturtium



Want to get involved?  We will have further work days on the orchard as it evolves.


Orchard Planting day – 13/8/14

We had some cold South West winds but the day warmed up to allow us to eat lunch outside on the cottage deck.

Thank you to all who came out and planted the new Orchard.
It was fun to work with an enthusiastic team and achieve such a lot in one day.

There was a lot of great discussion and inputs of ideas to the orchard also.

Habitate Farm is an opportunity to have a go at putting into action all of our visions of rich living soils and diverse integrated plantings.


Marking out the two meter spacing for the fruit trees, to the left is the organic market garden

Twelve of us planted 22 fruit trees, 8 raspberry shrubs, 22 support species trees and shrubs, 39 chunky Russian Comfrey divisions, and 39 Dwarf Comfrey plants. And had a long and delicious lunch!Habitate-Farm-OrchardHabitate-Farm-Holistic-Orch


The low end of day sun blesses the new orchard. We also had beautiful little pure black Piwakawaka flitting around us during the planting. I think the birds are going to appreciate this orchard too.


Fruit Tree Pruning – An Interview with Maureen Howard

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Jason shares his deep understanding of FRUIT TREE PRUNING on the Eco Living in Action radio show, originally aired on 12 July 2012 on Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. You can listen to the podcast at—Eco-Living-In-Action-Show—Backyard-Biodiversity.mp3?_uid=1402872917-838-13

Maureen Howard hosts a Pruning Workshop Waitatihalf-hour sustainable living radio show called Eco Living in Action that is aired on Otago Access Radio 105.4FM every Thursday from 2.30pm -3pm.

From making your own cleaning products to composting, recycling, keeping chooks and reducing your carbon footprint, Maureen and her guests will inspire you with practical, everyday solutions that make a difference.

To listen to previous podcasts or to listen to the radio station online go to

FRUIT TREE PRUNING on the Eco Living in Action radio showMaureen is a fantastic sustainable living educator. She is contracted to the Dunedin City Council to provide information to the community on waste minimisation and sustainable living 

For more information about what Maureen does, please contact Maureen by email


Edible Entry Garden Design

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

The main entry path to these enthusiastic and playful food growers home plows straight through the best growing area on the property. In this design a combination of beautiful ‘welcome home’ gardens, structural and functional evergreen shrubs are employed to keep the entry a pleasure to arrive home to while also offering glimpses of the delicious fresh food growing in raised beds close behind.

Beauty, aesthetics, outdoor living spaces and yes even lawns are important aspects of creating successful permacuture gardens. Because the more time we spend outside enjoying our gardens the more we will also use and harvest from the edible plantings.

Edible-Entry Edible-Entry-ThumbA moveable chicken fence system was settled on, allowing rotation of the chickens through orchard and berry areas, for benefit of both. Chickens will provide maintenance, fertility and eggs, while tilling areas of garden in which some of their own food will be grown seasonally.

Yoga lawn, chickens, wildflowers, herbs, dye plants, orchard, glasshouse, vegetable beds

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

and don’t forget to include the clothes line and the kids trampoline!

These were just some of the features that I recently helped a busy young family work into an edible landscape plan for their very steep six hundred square metre section in Port Chalmers.Sun-Ray-Garden









The final layout integrated and clustered features using permaculture design principles for low maintenance and maximum diversity and yield. The vegetable garden, glass house and chickens, for example, are clustered around the yoga lawn in a funky sun ray pattern.




Three hand drawn concept+ designs resulted: A planting Plan, Hard Landscape Layout and a colour area theme  sketch.

Bathgate Park Community Garden Food Forest – Habitate edible habitats

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Food Forest DesignA community food forest is sprouting in South Dunedin. In December 2014 Peta Hudson and Jason Ross tutored a Food Forest Design workshop at the school site. Local participants contributed their ideas in the form of designs for the food forest after learning about the possibilities for the area.

I took these ideas and brought them together into a layout and planting strategy design for the food forest. Planting is planned for winter 2014.

The Bathgate Park Community Garden and Food Forest Project has been driven by Grow South, well done team!

Bathgate Park Food Forest

Taste Nature Gardens & Habitate Nursery

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Garden AbundanceTaste Nature Gardens & Habitate Nursery collaborate on the development of this exciting Permaculture landscape in Waitati, Otago. Owned by the visionaries Mark & Rayna Dickson, this land is both the home of our Habitate Heritage Fruits Nursery and is also their diverse, integrated and intensive small scale market garden that supplies their Organic Shop, Taste Nature, in High Street, Dunedin.

It is an exciting project where passionate people come together to grow high quality nursery plants, organic vegetables, herbs and fruits. It is a team effort, where innovative growing systems are being constantly discussed and improved.

We grow organically and utilise permaculture design for layout and systems design. Biodynamics is used for soil health. Chickens play a major role, being rotated through the gardens using electronet fencing, to clear and fertilise garden beds.

We have our main nursery products (Berries and berry plants, pip fruit and pip fruit trees) certified as organically grown by Oganic Farm NZ – Producer Number OFNZ – 1035

We hold an Open Day mid March each year, which is advertised on our Articles Page and at Taste Nature. Give us a bell if you would like to be on our mailing list for this.


Chicken Rotation Systems


Berries, Fruit Trees & Chickens

Thursday, April 24th, 2014


Before (Autumn 2014)

Berries, Chickens & ApplesTo keep the maintenance low and the soil fertility up for this couple in Waikauaiti, chickens are playing a key role in our garden design. They have a deep litter scratching yard where they will process weeds etc into compost for the garden. During the summer they will graze in the orchard and in the winter, with the change of a couple of small doors, they will run under the berry fruit bushes in the berry cage. This integrated design has many benefits. The chickens get fresh ground, weeds and bugs to eat, and they help with maintenance by scratching and grazing.

In winter 2014 we supplied the fruit trees from our Heritage Fruits Nursery and completed the planting of them, right down to the companion plants.


John (pointing, the garden owner), describing to our planting team the constructed of the the raised beds and berry cage that he completed himself in the autumn months

Perry3 Perry4 Perry5

Japanese Garden Inspired Edible Landscape

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Japanese Garden Inspired Edible Garden


This full garden design was created for a lovely family who are passionate about not only growing fresh fruit and vegetables but also about Japanese garden style. The solution was a front garden entry through a Japanese garden inspired woodland, dry riverbed and pond, and a back section garden of herbs and raised garden beds near the house and deck and a chicken run and orchard on a steep slope below. A Japanese theme was kept throughout with edible Japanese plants and other edible plants that suited the theme being integrated with the ornamental gardens.


Edible Backyard

Food Forest Workshop

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Food forest workshop December 2013 at the Bathgate Park Community Gardens, South Dunedin.

It will be an inspiring and practical workshop, you will learn about local food forests and practice food forest design on the site of the future community food forest.

Future workshops or working bees will cover planting and soil management strategies.

Peta Hudson and I are facilitating and it is being run by the great people Grow South who have got this community garden off the ground

I hope to see you there! contact to register


Food Forest Workshop

Food Forests

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Here at Habitate we are passionate about Food Forests. I have been fascinated by the concept and have been enjoying the benefits of Food Forests in practice for over ten years. Most of our edible garden designs if not including a food forest involve thinking like a forest in order to create productive solutions for small or challenging spaces. We use vertical layering and succession design to ensure seasonal cropping and short term and long term crops through the years leading to long lasting productive perennial gardens.

I recently attended the first New Zealand Hui on Food Forests, it was great to meet so many other people working on creating food forests around the country. It was brought together by James Samuel of

Peta Hudson and I ran a workshop to design the Food Forest for the Bathgate Park Community Gardens in South Dunedin, and I have now drawn up a design for it. Planting winter 2014!

I have just created the posters below to illustrate the benefits of a food forest, and answer the questions: What is a food forest and what might one look like in the Coastal Otago or Southland bioregion?

What is a food Forest

Food Forest Examples


Permaculture Food Forests Talk

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

A talk by Jason Ross at the July Permaculture Dunedin Meeting – All Welcome
Permaculture Dunedin holds monthy meetings with stimulating and inspiring talks on all things Permaculture.

17th July 2013

Meeting starts at 5.30pm at THE APARTMENT upstairs from The Malcalm Trust, 174 Princes Street (enter “The Apartment” from Dowling Street).

Jason Ross – Owner / Operator of Sutherland Nursery and Edible Garden Design, based in Waitati. Works with Waitati Stores, growing vegetables, herbs and fruit for Taste Nature, Dunedin’s Organic Shop.

Forests and woodlands provide great inspiration in their diversity, resilience, self perpetuation and beauty. Can we use a forest model to inspire design for integrated edible and useful gardens and landscapes? I have been inspired by this question for the last ten years. In this talk I will outline some key aspects of temperate food forest design and thinking.
Inline image 1


All meetings start at 5.30pm at THE APARTMENT upstairs from The Malcalm Trust, 174 Princes Street (enter “The Apartment” from Dowling Street).

17th July,

28th August,

25th Sept,

23rd Oct

Neighbourhood Nirvana

Monday, July 8th, 2013

NZ Gardener Article - Neighbourhood Nirvana

It was really nice to have Robert and Robyn Guyton over recently, they were quite taken with how my kids graze from our family’s edible garden. Robert said he might like to write something about the diversity of plants we enjoy in our little section, but I soon forgot his comments until folk started telling me he had written an article in New Zealand Gardener. Check out the July issue, Robert is a great writer and a great explorer of the wilder side of food gardening.

Sometimes at the dinner table I am playing the role of trying to get my kids to eat some salad when I remember, that actually, during the day, between tree climbing, making bug houses and trampolining, they have been tearing off brussel sprouts and chunks of cabbage from the garden beds and munching them happily raw.

I never thought that our edible garden would be such a big part of our kids outdoor play time, or that they would be self grazing from it! So I suggest to anyone going to have kids to integrate edibles into their backyard play space. Your kids will end up teaching you a few things about the joys of an edible garden. “Dad have some of this kale it so sweet!”

The Many Benefits of Semi-Dwarf Heritage Apple Trees

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Semi-Dwarf Discovery Apple TreeSemi-Dwarf Discovery Apple Tree. 1.8m high and 2.5m wide! With a good heavy crop.

The primary reason that we like grafted fruit trees is that by grafting onto specially bred rootstock we can reduce the size of the tree when it is mature. The trees are then easier to manage, the fruit easier to reach and we can fit more variety of trees into a smaller space.

Specifically this winter I am promoting a great range of heritage apples that I have grafted onto the semi-dwarf rootstock called M26 (bred by the good people at the East Malling Research Station in England). This makes a fantastic multi-purpose size apple tree, it dwarfs the tree size to thirty to fifty percent of normal size, that is, around two to three meters high and wide. This is a little under M106 which dwarfs to sixty to seventy percent. It still has good vigor and robustness compared to a full dwarf apple on a rootstock such as M9 which dwarfs to a quarter of full size. It is also cold hardy so can also be used in inland gardens.

Another great feature of this rootstock is that it is as vigorous in its first few years as the more vigorous stocks, so establishes quickly, and it is precocious, that is, it starts fruiting at a young age. You can expect twenty to thirty fruit in the third year from planting.

Heritage apples grafted on M26 are a great choice for espalier, growing against a fence or wall or over a pergola or pathway arch. These make beautiful and productive dividers or backdrops for vegetable gardens or edible courtyards. All of these situations call for a tree to mature at around two to three meters high. M26 will quickly grow to fill the space and enjoy the support of the structure for the early heavy crops. As an espalier or against a fence two metres high expect the tree to cover two to three metres of wall, therefore plant them this distance apart. If you really want to pack in the varieties to ensure a great variety of tastes, uses and seasons of use, then plant an inclined cordon at one meter spacing.

Winter Pruned Semi-Dwarf DiscoveryWinter Pruned Semi-Dwarf Discovery

Apples on M26 are also used in permaculture food forest plantings as understory or edge trees. Food forests use the observed patterns of natural woodlands to inspire the design of productive gardens / orchards, thus utilising space effectively by stacking vertically layers of edible and useful plants. Apples on M26 can be used in either the low tree layer (use early varieties, cooking varieties and varieties suited to cool summers) or as part of the forest edge (use sun loving varieties). When growing M26 as a freestanding tree, always stake it to get it going and to take the weight of early crops and keep it staked if any winds are likely to catch it.

M26 Apple TreesTwo year old M26 apple trees from our nursery will be quick to crop in your garden.

See our catalogue for a great range of heritage apples on M26 rootstock, some varieties also available as two year old M26.

If you are after a larger tree to eventually sit under, if you have heavy soils, or there is going to be competition for the tree then choose a more vigorous rootstock such as M106 or M793.

Fruit tree grafting workshop – September 2013

Monday, May 6th, 2013

fruit tree graftingFruit tree grafting workshop with Jason Ross, Sutherland Nursery

Would you like to learn how to graft a fruit tree (apple or pear) at a hands on workshop?

The workshop is planned for Sunday Sept 1st – 2013 –  from 1-4pm.

Prior to the workshop, participants will receive instructions on how to take cuttings suitable for
grafting. The cuttings need to be taken at the beginning of July, when the trees are fully dormant.

If you don’t have a favourite fruit tree to take cuttings, we may be able to help. During the recent
community fruit harvest, we identified some trees with delicious fruit that appear to do very well in
our area, which we would like to graft.

The cost of the workshop is $30 to graft an apple or $40 for a pear. This covers the cost of rootstock,
potting mix, demonstration and tuition from Jason, and venue hire. If you’d really like to come, but
the cost is a barrier, let me know and we will try to sort out something. Venue will be confirmed
once we know we have viable numbers.

Please register by 10 June, supplying the information below to Kristen Bracey (North East Valley Transition Towns 473).
Her contact details are:

473 9535 or 027 779 5481

Payment is required in
advance. Places are limited so register as soon as possible.




Will you bring own cutting (therefore which rootstock do you require)?

Yes Type:


Type of cutting you would like supplied: (apple or pear)

Would you like to graft more than one tree? Extra rootstock are $10 per extra apple rootstock (please choose dwarf or standard size) and $20 per pear rootstock. Please include this in your registration payment as we need to order the rootstock.

Early Summer Tasks in the Orchard

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Tydeman's Late OrangeWe have just thinned the very good fruit set of apples from the nursery cordon, otherwise it would have been very overloaded. This 7 year old espalier of 38 varieties of apples is where we get our cuttings (scion wood) from.


Early Summer Tasks in the Orchard

It is a beautiful time of year out in the orchard. We enjoyed some good conversation and garden tip sharing recently when we were out working in the Waitati Open Orchards. Here are a few tips for timely activities for early summer in the orchard.

  • It is worth doing a quick pull up of the weeds that have taken hold in the spring flush from the mulch under your trees and bushes. Before they become monsters!
  • Thin the fruit that has set, apples to about two fruits per cluster, take the centre ‘king’ out first. My big ‘Wilson’s Early’ plum set so much fruit last year I just shook it to thin the fruit.
  • Thin new shoots on raspberries of both summer and autumn varieties.
  • Summer pruning can start now; this is good for vigorous established plants, encouraging them to fruit. Take out young crowding growth that is not needed for new branches. Great for gooseberries, and over vigorous fruit trees, such as those out of control plums!
  • Prep your strawberry beds with pine needles over compost. When they start running, ruthlessly take out any runners you don’t want for new plants, you’ll get a lot more fruit.
  • Cover your fruit with bird netting, consider covering the lot from a permanent perimeter fence that can then contain chickens in the winter to weed and fertilise the area for you.
  • Chop and drop the dynamic accumulator, nitrogen fixing, ground cover and companion herbs, such as sweet cicely and comfrey, under your fruits. This feeds the soil, keeps weeds at bay.
  • Make a mix of vegetable and herb seeds and scattering them into gaps in the fruit, vegetable and even the ornamental garden. It is a pleasure to harvest the succession of abundance that follows. Try: daikon, rocket, mizuna, lettuce, carrot, silver beet, coriander, dandelion, miners lettuce, red Russian Kale, flat leaf parsley…

Old gooseberries with companion plants chopped and dropped beneath them to feed the soil.

Food Forest Workshop in Waitati – November 2013

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Would you like to learn about growing a whole woodland type ecosystem entirely with edible and useful plants? Come along to find out how to grow a diversity of crops together, supporting each other making for a low maintenance food system and an adventure into growing closely with nature.

I will be co-tutoring and bringing local info on what species and guilds work here in coastal Otago.

Spring Food Forests / Edible Forest Gardens

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I just adore this time of year in the edible garden. I especially enjoy the food forest (edible forest garden) parts of the garden where all the work of weeding, mulching, transplanting and pruning was done in the winter and now is just a time for observing the fresh new growth, flowering and insects doing their pollination (and parisitising!).

This picture is taken in Waitati at a garden where I work. In it are apple and plum trees, redcurrants, perennial vegetables/ herbs / multifunctional dynamic accumulators: sorrel, lovage, globe artichoke, lemon balm, sweet cicily, russian and evergreen comfrey.

I am extra excited to be thinking about food forests as I am co-tutoring a workshop on them later in the month, with Robina McCurdy and Jon Foote as part of the LOCALISING FOOD TOUR, look out for an upcoming post with detals.

Fennel, sweet cicely and lemon balm. These are planted under fruit trees for a range of benefits. For the trees they provide a ground cover, excluding weeds and mining up minerals from deep in the soil they deposit them on the soil surface for the fruit trees to feed on. For us they provide herbal tea, salad crops, rhubarb sweetening and delicious seeds.

Here Russian and evergreen comfrey growing under berry fruits has been slashed and dropped to feed the soil. This really enjoyable job is done two or three times during the summer.

Gooseberries with comfrey underneath, autumn raspberry rows, an apricot and hazel nuts behind, in a well sheltered sun trap.

Fruit trees we planted very closely in rows with companion plants, in order to trial many varieties in a small space. Sunflowers are planted as a cash crop in between the rows while the trees are small.

Dunedin Local Food Forum

Friday, October 26th, 2012

I will be attending, I am looking foward to hearing about food growing projects in Otago, with the goal of networking for further growth! I will talk on Coastal Otago Fruit growing success stories.

Tastier and Healthier!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Heritage Apples









Science is slowly catching up with what we can taste and feel: “Older varieties of fruit and veg may be considerably healthier than their modern supermarket equivalents, researchers claim”.

One of our all time favourite apples, Egremont Russet is mentioned in the following article a friend just sent me:

Pictured are apples on our display at the Waitati A&P Show.