FEBRUARY 2016 IN JADAN GARDENS – TRANSITION TO SPRING AND EARLY SUMMER
Recent greetings and colorful garden report from Jadan
This was an unseasonally hot month, which climaxed with a temperature of 39 degrees celsius, so that by the 29th day it was almost a relief that our winter veggies had come to an end. We managed to chomp our way through 200kg of carrots and quite a few spring onions this month. During the final week we started to prepare some of the winter root area for some summer vegetables, like the Indian cucumber which is known locally as tarkakdi, and also snap melon and okra, and some local cultivars of eggplant, as well as bitter gourd and bottle gourd.
Around the 20th we prepared some fertile areas of the old lawn area in the Shiv Bagh and also planted here some chandaliya (summer spinach), some zucchini and cluster beans, as well as a local variety of okra. In the workshop garden another area was cleared of mulch and the rich soil prepared for the planting of bottle gourd. It takes around 6 weeks for a vegetable to grow from seed to harvest here, so hopefully something will come in mid-April, by which time the temperature will reach between 38 and 40 degrees celsius. By then you really need your cooling cucumbers, believe me!
During the last days of the month we repaired the new channels in the Shiv Bagh and removed a lot of compost and Bermuda grass from between them, In general the plants have developed very well since they were planted in October 2014. Pruning of the rose bushes began this month and many papaya fruits ripened. In the old beds some new varieties of flowers started to bloom, such as hollyhocks and marguerite daisies. Also some sunflowers have opened up and zinnias and marigolds are coming up everywhere from seed.
In the salad area behind the central office, the tomatoes started to ripen on the vines – from orange coloured cherry cultivars to plump Slovenian and Croatian cultivars, and local deshi ones. The plants were dusted with wood ash this month and sprayed with our homemade mix of garlic and cow urine with neem powder and oil added in. This helps to protect them against the little black flies (mola) that rise up by the thousands from Makar Sankranti (in January) until the beginning of March, when they die off from the heat. That is when one knows to plant the summer vegetables.
In the workshop area nearby, the fenugreek pods have developed and one can smell the spicy fragrance – these will be harvested after Holi (March 23rd) along with the flaxseed and the garlic in the Big Garden.
Our Big Garden is looking very clean in the areas where the horses and our bull Surya Narayan have been grazing for the last five months, and there is a lot of green fodder for them to enjoy also during these hot dry months of the Indian summer.
Each season in Jadan has its own special quality and beauty. Now yellow leaves are carpeting the pathways and boundaries of our fields and gardens and there is a certain silent quality during the heat of the day and soon the hot dry winds will arrive. It is probably worth a mention that we had two short rain showers this month too (17th and 20th) which was the first rain to fall for 5 months.
There is a promise of a couple of showers in March too, which would be sublime, but it is foolish to get one’s hopes up too high in these parts – rather like hoping for a hot day at the beach in England! In the meantime our water situation is good – the talab is still half full and our main tube well water is sweet. Plans are also underway to extend our fodder area to incorporate some sorghum wheat after the harvest of garlic and flaxseed, and this would mean that we could cover the needs of all our milk cows as well as our horses.
I wish you all well and have a safe journey if you are coming to the Kumbha Mela in April – it is sure to be an unforgettable experience!
Best Wishes from
Puspa Devi, 2nd March 2016