What lies beyond a seemingly unforgiveable wet season?
A wet spring and summer have created the perfect conditions for a burgeoning food forest in our large chook yard. The combination of steady rain, fresh chook manure and regular vegetable scraps has germinated into a lovely wild garden of edibles.
- pigeon pea
- ice cream beans
I love the offerings of a chronic wet season! It definitely removes the need for much of the hard work! With minimal effort, we set up simple support mechanisms in the garden, including wire guards around the young trees. This protects their roots from chicken scratching. Other rainforest pioneer species are also germinating in the chook yard, such as wild tobacco, Sandpaper Figs and a personal favourite, the Strangler Figs.
Strangler Fig growing in a Paper Bark.
The excellent growing conditions have also prompted us to consider turning larger areas of the farm into food forests. Stacking species to mimic a forest creates a low maintenance, abundant food and fibre garden.
In recent years, it’s been too hot and dry to bother planting too many trees. We’ve been slowly and steadily planting a few at a time, just what we can manage to keep nourished. However, a food forest planting feels imminent. Food forest gardens produce organic food in a way that actually builds soil rather than depletes it. Gardening without harming other species is possible.
One of the challenges of wild gardens is relinquishing the concept of “weeds”. This concept implies that there are inherently good and bad plants. It takes time and patience to observe the way a plant is functioning within the system and what it is telling you. For example, certain plants emerge in poor or compacted soils. They extend their roots deep into the soil to mine minerals. They may assist to remediate soils and prepare the ground for the return of a canopy species. They are fundamental part of the ecological process. Removing them may reduce, rather than increase fertility. Wild gardeners move more slowly, observing first, rather than charging in to remove “the weeds”. Left unchecked, some volunteers will become rampant and that is not always desirable. Wild gardens require us to move with discernment. With a bit of thoughtful reciprocity, we can work with what wants to grow and thrive here.
I marvel at all the Staghorn and strangler figs that emerge in the established trees. It’s evident to me that the rainforest that lived in this part of the world for thousands of years, is ready to come back wherever we will allow it. The energy of the forest is ever present, inspiring creativity and abundance. Wild gardening involves us having a conversation with the land, rather than ignoring it. Allowing life to express itself, and taking time to witness it, is a small act of love toward earth.
People are an essential component in gardens. Even wild gardens require care and attention. Wild gardens offer the opportunity of courting a relationship with the life energy in its myriad seen and unseen forms. This calls to unlearn the abusive habits of dominance and control. Becoming sensitive to the language of life ignites our inner wilderness.
Today, I hope you feel inspired to hold space for the wilderness to emerge, both within and outside of yourself.
These hens are loving life in their forest garden.