Sunday, June 20, 2010


Momster Pumpkin growing between
precious young Moringa trees
I learned some important lessons this last season.

I had a favourite pumpkin go rotten before I had a chance to even cut into it. Desiring not to waste it, I hauled this mess into my new Food Forest bed, and just squished it all into the soil. The resultant plants were magnificent and like some welcome monster it grew and grew from one bed to another until it reached beyond and onto the lawn by the wash lines. In my exuberance at its splendour I had no heart to cut it back in any way; I was too curious to see how big it could really grow, little thought being given to what I would do with hundreds of pumpkins. That proved of little consequence anyway. The Vervet Monkeys thought it all a splendid experiment too and feasted first on the blooms, then on the tiny fruit and then on the larger pumpkins later. They have the advantage over me; I like to wait for it to mature and ripen before considering it food. Ah, well. I need dogs again.

Dogs require fencing to keep them separate from potentially unhappy neighbours. I have hit on a marvelous plan to get me some fencing up. I am going to do a living fence. Right within my price bracket…!

Beautiful and useful Honeysuckle
I plan to use the berries of the Chinaberry planted along the border of my Food Forest and let my fence poles grow in place. When each trunk is thick and strong I will pollard them off at perhaps 2-3 meters. The wood makes excellent firewood so the loppings and prunings will be useful. I will then weave honeysuckle between to make a living fence. Honeysuckle is so pretty and fragrant and is animal fodder too. It grows like a weed here.

We are leaving autumn and going into winter and so I will have plenty of Chinaberry seeds available shortly.

PS: I have just learned that monkeys can be chased away by hanging CDs around where they frequent. They move in the wind and the light catching them is supposed to frighten them off. Willing to give it a go! Won’t that be a hoot if something so simple does the job!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I have this dream so big in my soul that sometimes when I talk of it to people they want to come and see. I have learned to explain that my dream is still a work in progress : ) That it is not yet complete.

I run at it full tilt, and am sometimes sharply slapped down by unexpected disappointment. I have learned that there is no more uncompromising teacher than God, the Creator, and His creation. His lessons fill my life inexorably and patiently; and I have come to love it - after I have survived the disappointment; for every part of every lesson acts as a mirror to my soul. I have fancied myself so humble, till humbled by this world that is so unsusceptible to persuasion. I have fancied myself so deserving, until disappointment asked for courage and endurance instead. And I have laughed so big inside over large gifts in tiny parcels; like a precious plant that has managed to survive despite the odds, or a seed that germinates when I have been told it never would. Then I know I have been kissed by a Father so loving that He wants to show me He is watching, and that He is loving my loving too.

Getting my Food Forest structured and in place has stretched me to my physical limits some days. And the pace, so slowly matching the growing vision, can threaten discouragement when tired. I have learned not to assess anything when tired. I will usually have a very skewed perspective. And when, after a long season, I learn that I have made many mistakes, then it is easy to think that my life is doing more unraveling than progress made. How long it seems to take for me to learn. And then how long it takes for me to apply what I have learned.

But strangely, it is only when everything seems to be falling apart that I learn that He is still holding it all together. Who was I fooling in thinking I was keeping anything together anyway? Humbled in soul at majestic magnificence in detail and abundance I have been reduced down to size and found in it the secret to unlocking many treasures.  Step by step and day by day of learning and doing can accumulate into joyous results. 

And in all the struggles I have discovered that the journey is as important as those joyous results.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The Forest has to be, for me, the quintessential pattern of ecological success. Let it give some space to a wetland and the fringes giving support to various grains, and it is complete. But it is the multi-storey functionality of a forest that really fascinates me.

In a forest every part of the soil is covered; plants easily stretching out and up in rich variety with leaf and bark litter settled between - nothing is left bare and vulnerable. Wind, rain and sun are moderated by the different layers of canopy and ground-cover, giving protection to the soil and assisting a constant regeneration of new life on the forest floor. A multitude of micro-climates give full sanctuary to all the dynamics of plant, animal and insect life. Billions of organisms that we do not even begin to fully appreciate thrive in this productive medium, giving and taking in ways we can never hope to reproduce artificially.

Alive and clean. Who has not walked a forest floor and deeply breathed tof he living freshness? And we can go back year on year and see this living organism sustaining macro and micro systems from enormous reserves patiently built up over time. I go with eyes and heart wide open to see and learn.

A forest, untouched, spans the years from childhood to old age. It brings continuity and quiet sanity. Everything is used and recycled; there is no toxic waste-dump. It brings forth life from death, and maintains equilibrium of macro and microcosms that never get out of balance if left alone. And should an invader try to move in, the compound cycles of life within this giant organism envelope and smother it, unless it is able to find some small niche and enter into the equilibrium.

This is a living tapestry. The rustle of the leaves, the birds in joyous background cacophony, and a quietness loud with jubilant busyness. Does the peace not pour into every empty part of your soul? In your growing stillness do you not become more alive? Do your eyes begin to see more, and your ears begin to hear more? Aaah…... this is Goodness on display. This is a handiwork that gives the heart pause to sit in awe and renewal.

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Everything that a forest offers I want to build on my land. It contains all that a mature eco-system can offer. The basic structure I can give, but I know that Father God has added the rest; it cannot but bring forth the life He originally spoke into it. I know He loves when I see His untouched handiwork.

Until next time,