Love for everything that growsThe Mongol Messenger
Selenge River Valley has a trace of rain that fell continuously for some days. Horses are grazing along the road and with the still-green tall fawns, it appears as if the pleasant season of summer is continuing in the first month of fall.
Most of the households in Sukhbaatar, capital of Selenge aimag, grow vegetables, berries, flowers, and trees in their yards. Also, in the aimag, 280 farming businesses and over 150 individuals farm 305.5 thousand hectares of arable land. One of these households is that of J.Myagmardorj and Sh.Onon, residents of the 5th bag of Sukhbaatar soum. They have been growing over 10 different species of fruits, rare flowers and vegetables on one hectare of land.
The leek in Myagmardorj’s yard was planted from the seed of the one grown by his grandfather, meaning some of the vegetables growing in the yard were first planted 70 to 80 years ago. “We are still growing one of the first vegetables planted in our yard, leek. It still grows nicely. People like taking leek seeds from us. They say the leek grown from our seeds tastes way better,” farmer Onon said proudly.
She has been propagating flowers and trees for 9 years. The bush full of blackcurrants in her yard has also been growing for 9 years. “The most important thing is watering. It is needless to say that many factors including proper care, soil, and fertilizers influence the growth of trees and flowers. You can see how beautiful lawn and trees a household that grows flowers has in its yard,” Onon added, looking at her flower garden with a smile on her face. Since starting to grow flowers, she has picked three rare flowers, lily, dahlia, and daisy to grow them in various different colors. Her garden has many other species of flowers aside from the abovementioned three. “It is not like everything you plant would grow. When this happens, you have to look back on where you went wrong. You should not get discouraged thinking that you are bad at planting flowers or growing vegetables,” the farmer said. She always tells this to workers and farmers she knows.
Lily symbolizes purity and refined beauty. There is an interesting ancient Greece legend about the flower called lilium in Latin. The legend has it that when Hera was nursing Hercules, some of her milk accidentally gushed across the heavens. Consequently, forming the milky way. After that, a few drops fell to earth and from those drops sprang the first lilies. Another legend has it that Venus became filled with jealous envy at the beauty of lily and caused a pistil to spring from its center. White lilies just like the ones told in the legend are swaying in the wind in Myagmardorj’s yard.
Myagmardorj’s family grow vegetables for their household use only. Their cabbages, onions, and carrots have grown nicely this year. The family also grows cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, and beets. Most important of all is that they are grown in healthy, clean soil, free of chemical agents. Using a detailed planting schedule, they plant their vegetables in different spots every year. For example, carrot could be planted where potato was grown in the previous year. Myagmardorj said the soil of an area where only one type of vegetable is grown deteriorates easily. The switching method helps prevent soil degradation and weed growth.
In the yard, there stands a water tank with a capacity of 3 tons, which draws water from a well nearby. The narrow metal pipe placed across the yard is designed to warm the farm water. The reason for that is because the living organisms get damaged when watered with cold water, which happens a lot with flowers. “It would be great for households that grow trees, flowers and vegetables in their yard to care for their plants using such pipes. The water inside warms up as the metal pipe heats up in the summer,” Myagmardorj recommends. Ice-cold water can hamper the plant growth by affecting the soil.
Onon gets up at 4 AM in the summer to weed the crops. While weeding, she checks the crop growth progress and health of the newly planted trees, flowers and vegetables. After that, she prepares breakfast and goes to work. She is the general manager at Sukhbaatar Development Landscaping locally owned enterprise based in Sukhbaatar. She not only gives instructions and tasks to over 80 people working under her, but also works alongside them.
In the afternoon, she employs herself in making pickled cucumbers. Pickled garlic, cabbage, and tomatoes are set out on the shelves in the storehouse. “I do not enjoy jumping from job to job. My hobbies have always been growing flowers and vegetables and planting rare trees in the soil of my hometown. That is why I have been doing this job until now”
It was not easy to sell the vegetables, seeds and seedlings on the market at first because Mongolians did not start farming that early. On the other hand, they did not have knowledge about plants as much as they have now. Now, the harvest fair that takes place three to four times a year in Selenge aimag gives the farmers an opportunity to promote and sell their produce. But the public fair was not organized this year due to the global pandemic. That is why Onon has been making most of the sales by phone as the fresh produce and seeds of rare trees and flowers are mainly sold in Selenge aimag. One person has already made a deal to buy one entire row of lilies. “Seems we will soon have a lot to do such as carefully picking and packing the flowers,” said the couple.
They yearly earn MNT 20 to 30 million and most of the profit comes from sales of rare trees and their seeds and seedlings.
“Flower gardening brings me great happiness. The most important thing in growing flowers is watering. Many years back, an elderly woman told me “Members of a household growing flowers are always calm and seldom get angry.” In the morning, I unconsciously start talking to my flowers, telling them how beautifully they have grown. I feel they grow more beautifully whenever I do that. It could be that plants, as living organisms, understand human behavior and language,” Onon said. She said that is why she loves her flowers more than the vegetables.
Red cherry is the rarest fruit in their yard. They have also planted elderberry. The elderberry seeds are used for growing seedlings and red cherries for making compotes. Farming households in Selenge aimag are currently growing red cherries with great interest. Myagmardorj also grows apple trees and the apples were harvested just a few days ago.
The couple’s ultimate goal now is to grow trees Mongolia does not have. They usually get tree seeds from Russia as plant seeds from the country fit the soil of Selenge aimag since the countries have similar geographical features. Onon’s greatest wish is to naturalize the rare trees in her hometown. “I once saw blue spruce in an Ukrainian film. It looked magnificent. That is why I am now trying to grow blue spruce. I can imagine how beautiful it would look if blue spruces were planted along the streets of Selenge’s capital. This is what I dream of doing” she said.
I felt love for everything that was growing in the yard where rich fragrance of flowers came from and colorful dahlias were growing. The green color of plants can relieve mental stress and eyestrain and make one calm. Myagmardorj and Onon carries their dream of growing beautiful and rare plants like blue spruce in the depths of their tranquil heart. They have already made the first step by planting the seeds. The tree they want will soon start to grow and I am sure that the love for everything that grows is carried by anyone who plants them.