Finally after 5 years lemons on Jadan Ashram organic gardens!
It was with great joy this month that we continued to harvest the acid lemons from the trees that were planted in 2007. On the 20th 6kg were collected. It is good timing since 1kg at that time cost 50Rs at our local market and so organic ones are probably worth at least 100Rs per kg. It is not yet the time for pruning as the fruits are continuing to ripen and fall and so we will postpone this action until the springtime.
In November we continued to extend our seedling section near the eating verandah and Mangilal-ji's gate and broccoli, New Zealand palak, dill, oregano, more tomatoes varieties and marjoram and parsley were planted there. The seedlings were alternately watered with sweet water either by sprinklers or by watering cans. We also put in some phool gobhi – cauliflower seeds (5th) – in 2 of the 4 palak beds near the monsoon sabji which did not come up and these have germinated very well and by the end of the month were ready to be transplanted. Cauliflower unlike it's cousin broccoli generally does not do well in our fields but in the past the leaves have developed and these are good for winter soups.
The mooli was half a foot up by the end of the month and the chakunder, palak, carrots and mangold were also looking very good and green however a lot of weeds came up with them. The dhaniya from previous seed did not come up too well and so we decided to use our new seed sent from Udaipur to and sowed these into the same plain beds on the 29th after cleaning the beds from weeds.
A PEACEFUL 2 WEEKS WITHOUT WORKERS
Due to the Deepawali break and the fact that our pick up vehicle was busy ferrying equipment back and forth to Nipal ashram in preparation for the huge function for the remembrance and anniversary of Holy Guruji's mahasamadhi, our labour did not come between the 10th and the 24th and overall the atmosphere in the ashram during this period was extremely peaceful. There was not so much to manage as thankfully the cooling climate meant significantly less watering but still small trees and seedlings needed sometimes daily attention and the Shiv Bagh was soaked every 5-6 days by the one inch pipe and sometimes in between with watering cans.
From the beginning of the month some workers came from Om ashram with kheti knowledge for the last of the horse grass cutting and along with these 2 ladies, 2 young boys started – initially to weed around the monsoon sabjis and the moringas and then for irrigating the sabji. One boy only lasted for 8 days and the other one is quite good with irrgation and simple tasks so hopefully he will stay on. The two ladies are also knowledgable in field work.
PLANTING OF RAJKA AND SUNFLOWERS
On the 2nd the ladies spent most of the day levelling the 15 beds which we intended for a lucerne grass plantation for our horses and the few cows living here. We had 3kg of seed purchased 3 years back and this was enough for 8 beds and in the rest we planted sunflower seeds and in 2 some potatoes mixed in with the sunflowers. The seeds went in on the 4th and powdered gobar was thrown on top as the beds were flooded. The area required 3 more waterings this month. Full germination took place and the area looked lush and green by the end of the month. Some green onion seedlings were also planted in 2 of the beds as we had a few left over from the planting on the 3rd in the prepared line of our winter garden nearby.
SHIV BAGH UPDATE
Owing to the lack of helpers this month there has been minimal action in the Shiv Bagh apart from daily checking of the new plants and seedlings and some action on the 7th with a thorough pruning of the west side fence. From the 7th until the 17th one boy also removed most of the deadwood from the golden hedges plants. The October team weeded the beds last month and we are now trying to avoid wetting the cleaned areas so that the weeds do not return. The grass was mown by one guest from Europe during the first week but it seems that Swamiji is determined to remove the lawn and to start afresh. The hisbiscus plants on the east side of the garden look beautiful whereas the ones on the shadey southern line have not developed well and some even developed the white fungal disease sometimes from on this species due to lack of sunlight.
SABJI BETWEEN SEASONS
The chakki which was so successful last year came to an abrupt end this month on the 22nd when the remaining vines were removed. Last year the same area produced 800kg of gourd and this year it was only 112kg.
Bhindi was still producing enough at least for Swamiji while He was here and in Nipal and lauki was the winner with a total of 50kg for the month. The gourds in the workshop area were very good for a while but as the weather cooled they too produced less and less. Swamiji commented that vegetables will not grow beneath the tameshwari vines.
The first of the eggplants were picked on the 22nd – 2kg. They are thankfully not the thorny variety and some are green and others purple. Janakibhai looked quite impressed with them. They have been getting regular sprinklings of neem powder – leaf and bark mixed with wood ash and sprayed twice per month with biospray.
The guar phali in the monsoon area were removed on the 13th and 3.8kg of seed was collected from those guar plants that came up wild in the rajka area during the monsoon. These will be planted next June as Prakash told us that they are very good fodder for the horses.
On the 19th the garlic was planted in the prepared area. I had requested 1kg from Jaipur in the hope that we would obtain a variety with large cloves – however the quality was not much better than the ones from our local market. We still have about 500g left of the garlic that we harvested in April.
The total sabji for the month including the lemons came to 105kg.
As the weather becomes cooler grow of shrubs and trees becomes imperceptible as many varieties become dormant during the season. We still needed to give each of our small trees – moringas, kumtiyas and arandis for the most part as well as the 200 plus sitaphals in the Shiv Bagh and in tiny pots – a regular weekly drink or every second day in some cases.
FINALLY SOMETHING DONE WITH NEEM GILOY
There is a very important ayurvedic herb or plant – a climbing vine – which has been growing in our ashram since Swamiji brought some cuttings from Jaippur ashram in 2000. During His visit here in November he requested that we cut the leaves and stems of our now 4 plants and dry them so that the group can benefit from this bitter tonic which is known as amrit or guduchi in Sanskrit. Tinospora cordifolia has been used for centuries as a blood purifier, against diabetes, high cholesterol and for boosting the immune system. Its stems, leaves and root are all used in ayurvedic medicines and the plant is native to India. The vines that grow on the neem trees are especially valued as it is believed that they then also take on the medicinal properties of the neem tree. So on the 17th as per Swamiji's wish we cut some of the thinner stems and the leaves and tried to dry them in the winter sun which is a slow job compared to drying in full shade during the hot and dry summer months.
SALAD MIX BLISS
It is always a joy when we can diversify our salad vegetables and this season the growth of our lettuce varieties was very rapid and we were able to start putting a few mustard greens and lettuce leaves in with the roquette that was planted opposite the workshop in October. To this we also started to add baby palak for Swamiji's salad from the 3rd and so we are very much looking forward to the butter lettuce which will be the main variety this year in addition to some endive/chicory and the lye which is a relative to mustard and which is a popular salad green in NE India.