Oh, what a lovely time of year it is. I love the darkening of the days, and I most certainly love Mother Earth cooling down, as we settle into Autumn, soon into Winter.
Summer for me here at El Noor, has been all about survival--barely anything is thriving, except for numerous date palms, but because of my poor planting strategy, most of the little ones have barely survived!
I speculate, that about 75% of them have survived the onslaught of an extremely dry summer. Still, even as I write this, we are yet to have a solid drop of rain since December 10th (although we did have a tiny sprinkle this morning, barely enough to wet the ground). My error in this pre-planning for the 2020 Summer, was my 'over-preparedness'. This was the layering of newspaper, with the addition of a black weed mat over the top.
It was a disaster.
Here's me thinking having the newspaper and weed mat will not only combat the weeds, but the newspaper will keep in the moisture after hand watering.
How wrong I was!
In my haste of saving of what I had left of my baby date palms, I went around to each of the barely alive ones, and ripped off all the weed mat and newspaper. Underneath showed me a different world--a very brittle and dry one. The newspaper had done the opposite of what I though it would do, it absorbed all the moisture out of the ground.
It was one of those 'asshole' jobs that I just loathed doing. Lots of frustration, swearing and such a waste of time and money. I will never again invest in weed mat or use newspaper in the garden. I, of all people, should know better by using synthetic products anyway.
So after salvaging what was left of the date palms, I gave the dead looking ones some water, and lo and behold, 'life' has reappeared within them, even after only a week of watering.
Not only could the baby date palms not 'breathe' with those constrictions I imposed on them, but there was no porosity, no airing of the soil. When I took the weed mat off, it was revealed to me the surface area that was watered. It was minuscule!!!
Its a miracle that any of them survived for as long as they did!
So now comes the time of gentle nursing back to health.
As Ive said many times, the laying of sawdust allows for moisture and air to move into the soil, whilst keeping most weeds out. Some weeds are actually not bad at all, and help nitrogenise the soil. I'll keep you updated with the progression.
On the other side of El Noor, other baby date palms are thriving:
I have almost 50 that have germinated with vigour, and perhaps another 40-50 still in their 'incubating' tubs. We'll see what the cooler weather brings.
My 2 year old seed germinated date palms have thrived over the Summer, even with sparse watering. It just shows how once established, they really are a very hardy, tolerant plant to have in the garden....even if they did receive 'a trim' from the local resident kangaroos- Mama K and baby J.
Not only was the date palm eaten, but so was my trigintipetala Persian Rose--the thorniest rose I have ever encountered. Its beyond me how Mama K could even go through with eating it. Its so thorny and sharp, she surely would have had a sore mouth after, either that or she has a palate of steel!
Note- for anyone wanting to invest in weed mat- this has a guarantee of 5 years- this didn't even last one!! And I still have a full roll I haven't used. Oh well. Live and learn.
Despite the hardships of a very dry and moderately hot Summer, one thing that has survived without barely any watering, is my 'new' first year rose bed. I have perhaps watered it 3 times throughout the entire Summer, and its been flowering all throughout.
Some doing so well that the roses are almost as big as the 2 year old roses in the David Austin Rose bed--and were only planted out last year! Amazing what a bit of sawdust can do...
Speaking of Spiders, an odd occurrence happened this morning. With the small 10 spots of rain we had this morning, I have seen all these trapdoor-ish spiders out. One poor girl was getting hammered by ants, and the other was inside my shade house. Both inert, and Im not really sure what's going on. I got the ants off of the big girl, and put her in a pot and the other I put beside her. Not sure if they will survive. Perhaps they came out for the moisture? Anybody know?
These spiders have very similar characteristics to that of the Funnel Web. And although they are brown in colour, they share similar attributes to the Funnel web--huge fangs, big abdomens, stumpy shiny legs. If anyone knows spiders, I would be interested to hear your thoughts. These girls have deep clean burrows with a very white, thickly woven web around the walls, usually buried in my piles of sawdust!
Life inside the El Noor shade house is going particularly well, and although I know I am heading into Winter, I like the thought of vegetables growing until they are unable. Even if I don't have an abundant season, I can re-compost the grown vegetation back into the soil which will provide for a nice rich soil mix.
Lots of melons & Zucchini is planted, as are tomatoes. I had tomatoes all year round last year so lets hope its the same this year.
Here is a baby tomato grown from seed. And below is Glass gem corn, half eaten, courtesy of Venus, my naughty chicken.
Below is my 2 pomegranates, grown for the first time at El Noor. They are ready for picking from now onwards.
They are small, but they are still edible! I hope they are delicious. I have also recently purchased a vanilla vine (to stay inside the shade house) and a macadamia tree, which I hope to plant outside once it acclimatises.
Here is the current state of my beloved first hot house. Despite appearances, she is STILL giving me Lebanese & regular zucchini's, plus some yummy tomatoes. I hope to revamp her in the colder months.
During this time, I have also planted many different native eucalyptus. I hope to border El Noor Gardens with these shady, shrubby trees, not only for added shade, but also privacy and pollination. Some of these eucalypts have the most pungent and breathtaking flowers! The bees go mad for them too.
I have been trying not to give them too much water because it's not the germinating process that is the difficult part with natives, its after they are growing. How much sun do they need? How much water? How much dryness? Full sun, part shade? I've read different things but am finding, again, it is trial and error, according to one's own environment. All these variables that need to be considered. I have lost plenty so far through trial and error. But some are doing okay.
All the chickens LOVE drinking this stinky dirty 'seeding' water. I'd say it has a lot of microbes in there that they love, but they clamour for it when I open the lid!
I am also very happy to see the progress of growth with some native sandalwood Ive planted. This variety is endemic to Australia and is almost extinct, thanks to the heavy chopping down for the wood in the early part of the century. These seeds were 3-4 years old, and have taken about 4-5 months to sprout.
They are so lovely! Again, the bottom left one has been trimmed by Venus.
I've also been busy in the kitchen, trying my hand at different 'breads'. They are all plant based, dehydrated breads, as my body doesn't respond well to my infamous sourdough that I LOVE making.
I do allow myself once a week or so to eat my sourdough, but right now, I am loving the delicious dehydrated breads.
This bread is delicious, and very light. Great substitute for conventional bread any day!
I've also taken up the task of setting up a small solar array on my roof. It's only going to be a small system, for emergency back up when we have the power outages here. We get them quite regularly, and I like the thought of having a back up in place, because its no fun when the power goes out. Food spoils, especially frozen bananas (that I use for my smoothies constantly) and although it might be exciting to sit in the pitch blackness for an hour, I bore of it quickly, and want the lamps back on. And if it drags on for days...well... I'll have something in place.
I've been setting aside some money for this venture for months now, and I'm glad to be able to finally invest in it. I'm just waiting for a couple of other bits and pieces--one being the battery, and then I'll be able to hook things up, and have some of my own sun-energy stored.
So, as Mother Earth winds down the heat in this part of the world for now, I look forward to the cold, dark nights without mosquitoes. The winter night skies are breathtaking in this part of the world, and sometimes when I awake at 3am, I have what Ive called "Cosmic Eyes". I get a quick glimpse of the night sky when its absolutely ablaze with billions upon billions of stars. Imagine the black night sky that we so commonly see, then filled with a type of milky-ness....this milky-ness representing a sky saturated with starlight that I find hard to describe with words. I'm speechless when it happens (usually on cold clear nights), and it only happens for a few seconds but when it does, I feel the most profound deepened connection with our Almighty Universe....I think if others experienced this, it would also give them this same feeling. I look forward to that! I haven't had 'cosmic eyes' for a few months now...
I'm also thrilled to be hearing of others who have followed my journey, of embarking on their own projects. Some have moved from the city to the land, whilst others are planting gardens and creating life. I am uplifted by hearing this, and feel continually inspired that humanity will go back to its roots. A life of living plentiful and abundantly off the land, in accordance with harmonious principles.
Blessings & Radiance
Andulairah, Deema, Shallaha, Erethae & Venus