Filtering by Tag: Magpie Larks

Gardening is a metaphor for life

Week 13: Urban Farming

I've always tinkered in the garden, but until a few years ago I was an inconsistent gardener at best. I got more serious about it after three loved ones died one after another in a fairly short period of time. Consumed with grief and struggling in other areas of my life as well, I sought solace in the garden.

Forget me not

The thing about gardens is that they reflect experiences we go through in our own lives. Full of hope, we plant seeds, our minds focused on the bountiful harvest sure to follow. But some seeds don't grow and it doesn't seem to be possible to accurately predict which seeds will flourish and which will perish. No matter how robust the seed, how fertile the soil, and how perfect the conditions, some plants just don't grow. The same is true in life. Some things don't work out, no matter how hard we try. That's just the way it is.

Conversely, sometimes the most improbable scenarios come to pass. The seed that's planted in imperfect soil, poorly tended and left to its own devices, somehow thrives against the odds. Go figure.

Solitary Pear

Seasons come and seasons go. Seeds germinate slowly then surge out of the earth ready to take their chances in the harsh conditions of the world. Some seeds live. Some seeds die. Some bear bountiful harvests while others make a start and then wither back into the ground.

Seeing all this play out in a garden helps keep life in perspective. Change is the only constant and we can't control or predict every variable. The perception that we can is a comforting illusion, yet we all seem to be guilty at times of trying to control the uncontrollable. Still, there's much we can control and plenty of things we can do to make life (and our gardens) better. Sometimes the trick is not just in knowing the best thing to do, but in having the strength to actually do it.

Developing Grapes

This week I staked my tomatoes in the rain, celebrating the brief respite from heat as my water tanks filled. I pulled out some weeds, picked zucchinis, salad greens, beets, herbs, and sugar snap peas. And I had enough ripe produce to provide home grown food at every meal. It's not a grand achievement, as achievements go, but it's enough.


By the way, the nest that was built for the baby Magpie Larks that live in our garden fell out of its tree this week, its usefulness outlived. The times they are a-changing.

Magpie Lark Nest

Week 12: Urban Farming

As it turns out, I needn't have worried about the snails that appeared in our urban farm early this spring. Nature has a way of taking care of itself, and I could have spared myself the effort of researching humane snail deterrent options.

Late Spring Garden Harvest

There's a saying in psychology that gets trotted out to raise parental awareness about the likelihood of children being exposed to paedophiles. It goes something like this: 'Wherever you find prey in attractive quantities, you can be confident you'll also find predators.' The point is that predators flock to areas where they think they'll have access to prey. If you have children, take this saying to heart. Paedophiles gravitate to circumstances that provide ready access to children and it's your best interests to manage risk as if they're there.

The philosophy is drawn from nature and we've just had a classic example of how it plays out in our own backyard microcosm. Over the winter months we noticed a pair of Magpie Larks building a nest in the tree on the verge adjoining our vegetable garden. Magpie Larks build nests out of mud and they need ready access to water in order to build their little homes. They decided, apparently, that our backyard swimming pool, was an ideal water supply. We keep the pool covered all winter and that gave them an ideal platform to wade around on, collecting all the nice, wet sticks and leaves that had fallen onto the surface of the cover.

Garden Barrow

By early spring, they had a lovely little nest ready to go, and by the middle of spring we were admiring their three squawking offspring. Concerned about the possibility that they'd drink the salty water from the pool, we moved a bird bath into the middle of our vegetable patch, and we were gratified so see the beautiful little family drinking and bathing in their new ensuite spa.

This story had an unexpected ending, given the fact that we knew nothing about what Magpie Larks actually eat. You can probably guess the answer to that by now... they eat all manner of grubs that wreak havoc in vegetable gardens. Our snail problem, it seems, is now a thing of the past.

On a more mundane note, I'm pleased to report that we're harvesting mountains of produce from our urban farm already. We won't be buying salad ingredients for months and we're inundated with delicious berries. Sugar snap peas are on the menu on a daily basis and I picked my first giant zucchini yesterday. The tomatoes are flowering, we've had an explosion of passion fruit flowers, and we'll have cucumbers before you can say 'high tea at Buckingham Palace'. Crack out the fine china, cucumber sandwiches are on their way.

Passion Fruit Flower