EARLY AUTUMN IN JADAN GARDENS - OCTOBER 2016
It really took a long time this month for the humidity to drop and it was still around 70% towards the end of the month, which made for a sticky feel during the days in spite of cooler mornings...
However the first few days were a joy, with rains from the 1st to the 5th - rather like a mini monsoon, and the first drops to fall since September 1st. Who knows how long the next storm will be! So that was a very cheerful beginning.
Mid to late October is the time when flowers start to bloom and there is also the possibility to plant some early salad greens – endive and roquette – and some herbs like sweet basil and Thai basil. These were cultivated in the west area of the Shiv Bagh. Towards the end of the month we planted palak (Indian spinach) in the same area, with a little dill seed, and in centre of the garden between the lines of cotton shrubs we tried a few bean varieties – and some spring onions and more roquette, as well as hollyhocks and sunflowers, which usually get a good growth spurt when the weather starts to cool off in mid November.
We needed to prepare two main fields this month – one for winter veggies and the other for lucerne grass for our horses, and this year we decided to plant the latter in our workshop area, as the soil there is too tired for vegetable cultivation and the nitrogen from the alfalfa grass will improve the soil over the next couple of years. We planted here on the 17th, and some mooli and sunflower seeds were sown on the boundary of the beds. After that we put in some oats and yellow mustard in the field behind the central office, after ploughing in the pumpkin and lauki vines with the disc plough. This area will be very low maintenance – no beds and irrigated with 4 sprinklers. It will provide some extra green fodder for our horses and some yellow flowers for our honey bees, which live in hives around one of our residential buildings.
A section of the sweet potato plantation got weeded this month and the locals seem to think that we should start harvesting tubers in about a month, which is pretty exciting because next to fresh sweet corn this is one of the tastiest veggies of all. I think that after getting though a few hundred kilos of pumpkin that it was almost a relief to remove the vines this month. Our Lebanese cucumbers came late this year and are very sweet and tasty.
There is a space in the workshop garden that will be suitable for the cultivation of tomatoes and parsley and – as with garlic – these seeds go in mid November, as well as the spring onion seedlings. Yes – salad days are just around the corner.
From the 20th, a team of 17 ladies arrived and started to cut the kar and dhaman grasses in our Big Garden area. They have grown longer than any previous year due to the heavy and abundant rains this monsoon. We needed to cut all the grasses near the upper lemon orchard, as the trees have not had a proper drink since the beginning of the month and the grasses would have been crushed by the trolley and water tanker.
On the 21st, nine trolley loads of one-year-old gobar were brought into our cultivated areas and this is enough fertiliser for the entire year. The cow dung was still saturated with monsoon rain and smells beautiful! I shall look forward to distributing it to every corner, and plant and tree of each and every garden and field.
The workers went happily off to their Deewali week-long holiday on the 28th and we were left to do the final preparations before Swamiji's arrival with the autumn group. As usual there was weeding and weeding and weeding and pruning. Thank you to Prashad Puri from Austria who is about to start his Masters degree in landscape gardening. During his 5-day visit, he mowed our kitchen lawns and pruned the golden hedge in the Shiv Bagh and dismantled some elephant creeper and a long fence. Nice work.
The organic store has had a makeover and is more spacious now and full of nice things to buy. Welcome welcome welcome - and yes we still need butter lettuce seeds and more endive please.
See you all very soon and Happy Deewali to all bhaktas out there
All the best from Jadan gardens
31st October 2016