Growing at Christmas

Ah,
Christmas, time of feasting and frolicking and growing of waistlines! We have
so many family favourites at our place that only come out at Christmas that you
just have to indulge. And while I don’t do it all in one big gorging event, I
do find that we have so much ‘special’ food in the house for a period of about
a month: rocky road and Christmas cake and pickled pork and ham and ice-cream
plum pudding and pistachio cheese and on it goes! A month to have something
special with just about every meal!

But
this isn’t a lament, no, far from it! I celebrate our richness and hope for the
whole world to share it, except the rocky road – that’s all mine! But
seriously, I do look for ways to offset the gluttony with activity so that my
feasting isn’t immediately obvious to all my attire. And here in Australia we
have excellent outdoor weather, so there’s no excuse not to get out and get
active.

Christmas
and summer time also coincide with Trees For Life seeding time and for a long
while it’s been a time when we fill tubes with soil and sow them with a variety
of local plant species. This is our 21st year for Mum and I! Between
us we’ve raised over 500 seedlings every year for Trees For Life and another
50-100 for Friends of Aldinga Scrub. So that’s well over 10,000 plants we’ve
raised to be grown on private and public land in South Australia, by
landholders and revegetation groups.

image

The
seedlings we raise help to offset salinity, control erosion, provide shelter-belts
for crops from wind, shade for livestock, habitat for native animals, improve biodiversity
and so improve pesticide-free pest management, improve visual amenity and help
combat climate change once they’re mature.

It’s
wonderful to have a reason to get outside and there’s a real sense of ritual
around it now with my daughter and husband also active participants for many
years.

Every
November we know it must be nearly time for the Christmas pageant in the city
and for the big day itself because we get our growing order in the mail. This
year it’s for someone local and the seed stock is all from Willunga: several
types of eucalyptus and wattles and a sheok, tea-tree and more. By late January
they should all be their tubes and we’ll be on the lookout for their miniscule
heads peaking through the gravel mulch like new hair on a baby’s head!

By
Easter each year we’re parents to a – hopefully – large crop of small but
sturdy native trees and shrubs. We’ll be thinning them down to one plant per
tube by then and transplanting to any empty tubes and still watering twice a
day, every day.

And
as autumn turns into winter, we’ll be admiring their growth and looking for the
rain and wondering when our babies – not babies anymore but teenagers! – will
be off to their new home, giving us a few months in spring to replenish
ourselves ready for the cycle to repeat itself again.

This
may well be the silly season, a time for fun, friends, family and feasts, but
it’s also time to tune in, to find your rhythm with the planet and to plant
your seeds for the coming year. What will you grow in 2016?

©
Palitja Moore, text 2015, and image 2013.

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