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Jadan Ashram Organic Garden News - rollercoaster of climate conditions in February 2019

February weather here in the semi-arid zone of Rajasthan is anything but regular. It's foolish to pack away cold weather clothes until early March, as it can reach 34C during the day and dip down to 8C during the nights and early mornings and – as on 19 & 26 Feb – there can even be a little rain, and I mean really little!

A gorgeous shade of Chinese hibiscus The humble gerbera flower

This month we started to weed our cultivated areas in earnest and hope to have all seeding winter weeds removed by the Holi festival – the third week of March. In the Big Garden, all winter weeds were pulled up from the roots and the horses enjoyed the leaves and also the grains or seed heads, which were mature and probably very tasty. Our root vegetables are still going strong and though the lettuce plants are showing signs of rotting and are starting to taste a little bitter, they will still be ok for about three more weeks, by which time the spring onions, carrots and beets will all have been eaten.

In our Madhuvaani garden, colour abounds – mostly bright orange, as the marigolds and calendulas are finally in bloom. We transplanted these cheerful seedlings to the long channels in amongst the chrysanthemums, only to be told at the end of this month that the whole workshop garden area will soon become a papaya orchard! Most of the flowers will remain but will be transplanted to new ornamental boundaries in March.

Sunflowers are in full swing in the Shiv Bagh and they are stunning and narrate a story of strength and glory – they rise so high on thin stalks and turn unfailingly towards the light – they give us a message of wisdom and beauty.

Barley stalks in bundles or phoolis Sunflowers and papaya - fecund indeed

The lemon orchard action has been completed and, except for 1kg of fruit here and there, the season is over – but we have been guaranteed at least 2 tons next season. Now the gunda trees that were planted in the workshop garden in 2000 have received a thorough lopping and all dead wood has been removed – seven full trolley loads in total – and an assurance too has been given for healthy new growth and an abundant harvest next April. And not a drop of water will be required for this native tree, whose roots are far down into the soil.

In the Big Garden, apart from the lemon orchard action, there was a delivery of powdery and mature cow dung from our Rupawas gaushala (cow refuge) and in early March the cultivation work will be done in the large gunda field and hopefully the summer sabji (vegetable) seeds will be planted around the New Moon period – March 8th or 9th.

Gunda trees after cutting 

Just a few metres west of the Shiv Bagh lies the barley field to the north of the Swastika school building and around seven ladies came to cut and tie the golden grain stalks into bundles, which were then stacked in our parking area for drying. The wheat has yet to mature and will still require one more irrigation.

In the Shiv Bagh, our flaxseed crop is also ripening as the days become warmer, and the flowers have transformed into soft seed heads – perhaps they will be harvested before Holi although the workers will not come after the 18th March for several days.

Pretty annual - can anyone identify it? The beauty of Creation

The Big Garden winter vegetable area provided our kitchen with nearly 300kg of produce this month and shall be closed by mid-March this year due to the failure of the garlic, which is usually the only reason to irrigate beyond this time frame. The European seed that we tried out did not develop even the semblance of a bulb and so we will remove it early March and dry the stalks and root area and make garlic powder! Some of it was cut into our green salads and gave us a tasty sensation for a few days.

So as March approaches and the winter fades and annuals bloom before succumbing to the summer’s heat, a two-week weeding programme lies ahead to clear winter grasses from the Shiv Bagh and a twice-daily harvest of Bermuda grass for our calves, who are growing fast and enjoying some new additions to their diet such as pashu aahar (literally animal food – animal pellet feed), which look like dog kibble and is a composite of bran and grains and pulses, minerals and vitamins.

A field of golden barley Workshop garden gundas getting first decent pruning in 20 years

One of our puppies has a new home in our Swastika building and will be cared for there by a loving family, otherwise these tiny individuals are undergoing training in fits and starts and are lively and playful and eating well.

As always – irrigation time increases as the heat rises and in response to this and more heat, our papaya trees, some of which are heavily laden with fruit, are starting to bear ripe fruits and the banana trees are also pushing flowers out from their succulent stems. As long as we have water then the cycles can continue.

Throughout the world, harvest festivals are celebrated with the coming spring and India is no exception. The third week of March will be an explosion of colour and joy followed by local festivals and fairs or melas. In our gardens, each day is a celebration of colours and the miracle of what saints create in this ephemeral world in which we live.

All the best from
Jadan Organic Gardens
Puspa Devi
March 7th 2019