The Small Wonders Of Mother Earth

The star Sirius rising at 5.30am

Well! Its been a rainy month here at El Noor I am happy to say. Cold wet and muddy, and I am not complaining one bit! I will take this weather over the stinking hot summer any day. The luxury of not having to water my 100’s of plants is something I will never tire of, or under appreciate. With such a young little farm- everything is so small, and not yet firmly rooted in the ground, water is everything. This can take up to 5 years of careful nurturing.

Thankfully, I have a sawmill nearby, that I can help myself to, and it's all free sawdust as much as I want or am able to take. This has been a blessing more than anything else. I used the sawdust as a mulch, and I can cover my very vulnerable soil, for without it, the soil is like a wound without a covering. Its almost drilled into me now that whenever I plant a tree or rose or anything at all, the job is not done until there is a healthy covering of mulch. So that means I am making a weekly trip into my local sawmill—which I don’t mind at all!

Much is happening thanks to all the rain—my 1 year old roses are looking amazing, with beautiful tight new buds emerging, my new roses planted in the new rose bed are also showing promising buds and leaves pushing through, and even my rose cuttings that were planted on the cusp on the Winter Solstice, have taken to the ground and are showing beautiful signs of leaves, buds all over.

New Rosebed in the process of coming together...

These new roses I have planted, are actually extremely old, many of them date back to the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Some have French names such as Comte De Chambord, or Madame Isaac Pereire, and even one called Jacques Cartier! These roses are known as the Heirloom roses, which are a combination of Old World roses, Bourbon’s and are exceptionally fragrant. I also purchased more Kazanlik, or namely Trigintipetala, the Damask Rose, which is the Attar Rose, an old fashioned one also. I dream of the day of their scent wafting through El Noor!

New rosebed in the background covered in sawdust

I love nothing more than to wake up in the morning and see all of these roses and rose cuttings that I have planted. I even have a bunch of Rosemary cuttings that I planted that have also taken to the ground. It can take more than 6 months for cuttings to finally develop a root system, and even then, it is still young and fragile. So timing of when you plant is essential! Unless you have a greenhouse where the temperature and moisture can be controlled, late autumn/beginning of Winter is best in my experience.

Shallaha & Deema much too busy to talk

I was in a mad rush before the Winter to get it all planted because I wanted the cold and the wet to nurture these cuttings, making it easier for me as Spring approaches to not have to water so much. I can count the number of times I have hand watered things over Winter—once! Ah, yes, it is a luxury untold, believe me!

Shallaha & Deema busy at work looking for worms in the moist soil

I have also been successful at germinating the native Sandalwood of this country. I planted the kernels also before Winter, and I totally forgot about them until I saw them emerging in a seedling box only but a month ago. I carefully took them out and planted them in the paddock. They are doing well. Native Sandalwood is borderline endangered here due to the extensive cutting when the early settlers arrived here. They realised the value of the wood, notably the oil/sap and cut as much as they could. I hope these seedlings survive the coming months.

Another little nice surprise, after I pruned my 70 year old Peach tree, I had all these cuttings, I had never really heard of being able to propagate stone fruit trees from cuttings, but I thought I would give it a shot. So I buried them in my piles of sawdust. Lo and behold, 3 weeks later, I have found some wonderful callouses on them with some sticky sap.

Sticky & calloused Peach tree cuttings

Today I have planted almost 10 in the ground—probably 30 or so to go! I would like to sell some of these online at some point also, as I would love others to enjoy the deliciousness of such an old fashioned peach. A peach that is so hardy and drought tolerant, it was one of the only things alive when I moved to my property. The old folk that live here (80+ is average age here) tell me stories of when they were kids of eating peaches from this tree in the cellar to keep cool. The peaches are delicious. They pull easily away from the seed, and have a magenta colour on the inside, and it tapers out to a lovely orangey peach hue. They're juicy, crunchy, sweet and just goodness all over lol.

You know I enjoy my peaches every year. And what I don’t give away to family and friends, I make jam. It is the most delicious jam that I still have in my cupboard right now… maybe I’ll make a piece of toast with peach jam later tonight…

The rose seeds that I have kept in my fridge for a time of stratification, have now finally awoken, and I now have some wonderful little rose seedlings. These rose seeds are from rose bushes that I pollinated by hand—or at least I think I did… perhaps a bee or a fly had got in before me, and did the work, so it will be a lucky dip to see what I will end up with.

3 week old rose seedling

.... I'm wondering what rose seedling this is?! I suspect it maybe one from Pierre de Ronsard... time will tell! It is looking strong and healthy, a nice sturdy stem which is promising. I have had some that have started off good, but have weakened over the following days and died.

Rose seed opening up into the world

I have taken my propagating skills one step further and have finally put the Phalaenopsis orchid seeds I had pollinated in 2017 into flasks. Well! What a laborious process that has been. So far, so good. Anyone that has tried their hand at germinating orchids from seed will know what I’m talking about. It is at the high end of difficulty due to the extensive process one must go to in order to make sure everything is 100% sterile. I will keep you posted in a future blog.

Agar media with Orchid seeds on it (hard to believe I know!)

Only in the last 2 weeks, I have mounted and assembled a ‘greenhouse’ frame—yes I am going to have a greenhouse on my property!

Before all the 'adjustments' were made!

I would like to try my hand at growing my vegetables in the summertime—particularly tomatoes, okra and eggplant, and anything else I can grow.

Handmade recycled bench thats kept me busy!

The broccoli I planted several months ago has already got beautiful green heads on them. I can’t wait to try them! I am surprised at the quickness of them flowering! I would attribute that to my consistent urine fertilizer, which is also the best fertilizer (in my opinion) for giving plants all the nutrients they need. And with very curious chickens around, it is by far the safest.

Luscious brocoli, with some fennel beside it- all grown from seed!

The front garden at El Noor, is unfortunately looking a little sad—and plastic. But within all these plastic milk containers (I have saved every single one since I can’t even remember) there is life abounding. Each one has either something in there- flower seedlings, medicinal herbs or plants—all grown from seed…and if I didn’t own chooks I wouldn’t have to be so drastic with the protection! They love nothing more than to eat and scratch plants—especially young ones so the seedlings wouldn’t stand a chance with them around.

The milk containers on the front wooden fence each have a sweet pea seedling inside. I cant wait to see how beautiful the fence will be in the late Spring, hopefully full of sweet pea flowers of all different sorts.

There are many more milk containers than what is in the pic now, since the weather is slowly warming, more seedlings are springing to life. I hope the effort is worth it, and by the look of their progress, I think it is. My whole paddock is covered in milk containers or wire- and hopefully they will be things I can slowly get rid of in the future, but for now, they serve an essential purpose.

I hope this gives you a little insight into my daily life at El Noor Gardens. Lots of work of course, but work that I love and receive a lot of pleasure from doing. Life Creation is the most fulfilling role to undertake on this beautiful planet!

Deema looking so healthy again. Her feathers are so soft and silky!

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