“O God, Make all things work for our Good.”

February 24, 2015 | Reflections from some of the nuns

The Farm

Well after a busy few months in the candle department and in the garden I am back on the air.

Sorry for those who have been in wait for the ‘next exciting episode’. Since the beginning of spring the Abbey Farm has had a makeover. Some of the principles of Permaculture have been adopted and many new raised beds have been added. A friend ‘Birdie’ did a permaculture design course and used the Abbey Farm for her design project. Birdie’s work and generosity in our garden has been a great blessing for us. So I am keen to share with you this week some of these new permaculture practices.

GardenThe swale gardens.  Taking into account the natural contours of the land and the way water flows through the patch, contoured beds were built to catch the water in the bed rather than have the nutrients just wash away from the garden and off down into the creek. The Abbey Farm is actually on a slope and with the manure from the birds there was a lot of loss in nutrients every time it rained heavily.

In permaculture all waste goes back into the garden to build up the structure and to nourish the soil. So all prunings are cut up into small pieces and go into the compost heap. Also into the compost goes manure, weeds, grass clippings, shredded paper, straw and all are layered and heaped up high. Comfrey leaves and / or stinging nettle leaves are added to activate the breaking down process. The raised contour beds are of the same nature; sheets of newspaper to suppress underlying weeds, fresh grass clippings, manure, dry leaves, compost, comfrey leaves and straw. Then into the straw small pockets of soil or compost are formed and planted with the new seedlings. What I have appreciated most about this is that little seedlings snuggle in cozily to the new environment and don’t seem to struggle with the shock of being replanted.

Raised BedsThis is one of the new contoured raised beds. You will notice the interplanting of species thus some are protecting others from the sun, others providing support, others warding off pests. In this bed there are beans, lettuce, marigolds, silver beet, cucumbers, sun flowers all growing happily together. It is a great joy to walk into the garden each morning to see the health and happiness of all my plants. They are just thriving. We all need to be in an environment where we are being fed with good things and in the companionship of happy, healthy minded people and creatures.

Monty the python is very pleased with the new arrangements. Recently I cleaned out the shed which lessened the mice population for a while so Monty came for breakfast in the orchard. No, his interest was not in the peaches we are presently harvesting but rather in the lively plump little ducklings. Here is Monty still recovering and gloating about his find. Monty hasn’t moved for days, the bliss of duckling breakfast lingers on. Despite Monty’s presence there is the usual peace and contentment in the orchard. Monty is actually lounging over the recycled dog kennel which is where the duck’s lay their eggs and it is business as usual for the ducks. The ducklings are quite happy to play around this area. Perhaps they know they are safe because it looks like it will take weeks for Monty to digest his dinner and he is too full to move.

This week’s fruit harvest is the yellow fleshed peaches. We have had 3 weeks of the white fleshed ones and all off the one tree. The veggie harvest at the moment is silver beet, kale, shallots, potato onions, beetroot and the daily supply of salad leaf and a whole assortment of herbs.

“O God whose providence disposes all things without any error. Remove far from us anything that might hurt us and make all things work for our good.”

This is part of a prayer from an old missal that was introduced into our community by Mother Placid who was Prioress from 1968 – 1980 to be prayed together before every meeting. It is a custom we continue to this day. When I am in the garden it so very often comes into my mind and heart because it seems to fit so well everything that a garden, the soil, the worker, the plants are engaged in together. All are a work, a gift of the providence of God.

May your heart and mind be open to receive all things this week as a gift from the providence of God. Have a good and holy week as you ready yourself and your family for the great season of Christmas.

Sr Mechtild of Jamberoo Abbey