Nature’s Nurses

Ray and the boys each picked a handful of Autumn olives yesterday and went for a walk in the swales.


It was twilight and gorgeous. I walked along with them snapping pictures and enjoying breeze, the warmth, the sun and the peace.


They munched on the berries as they walked and spit the seeds out between the trees we’d planted.

“What are you doing Joe?”

“We are planting trees!”


Planting trees by spitting seeds may sound crazy…perhaps it is. But how do trees grow in a forest with no one to dig holes and plant?

Seeds drop to the ground. Birds and beasts spread them around.

Sure, some of them grow and some of them don’t, but no shovel is needed to grow a tree.


Why would we want Autumn olives to grow willy-nilly in the swales?

One, they grow fast and spread even faster. We are slowly trying to cover the berms with plants and shrubs we can use for three purposes: food to eat, nutrients for the other trees and protection from erosion.

Two, they are packed with nitrogen and will enrich the soil. The roots fix nitrogen feeding other trees and shrubs nearby. We are working to nurse the soil on our property, to restore this disturbed soil to a rich and fertile landscape, perfect for growing food for our family.

Three, they taste great and are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E. They have more lycopene than tomatoes. Roughly 15 times more in fact. Lycopene has been associated with preventing certain diseases such as breast, prostate and skin cancer.

We aren’t just planting autumn olives. We’ve also transplanted seaberries and raspberries. We’ve planted comfrey and mint and plan to throw down more borage in the spring.

We are building our food forest one seed at a time.


Nature’s nurses planted
All throughout our land
Maybe they’ll grow tall and spread
And nurse our soil back from the dead

We’ve started the process
To repair and restore
We’re giving it our very best
And letting Nature do the rest

One response to “Nature’s Nurses

  1. Pingback: The Fedge, the Vineyard and the Swale | a pinch of homestead

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