Jadan organic garden reports - for November 2013
Bottle gourd vines near workshop
The total harvested for this month was 304kg but actually most of the produce in the total was lemons. The total lemons harvested were 213kg and apart from those sold, some were distributed to our ashrams and some were made into the delicious lemon chutney that we have enjoyed since August. Some were taken to Europe to be made into lemon chilli pickles and there were plenty too that when the group came they could make themselves lemonade and lemon tea. The acid lime is a very important and versatile citrus fruit. We are presently sun drying the rinds which may be used for baking, for teas and as cleaning agents which may have the added benefit of being mosquito repellent.
The lauki vines made a huge come back this month and 52kg was harvested this month and there was still enough toru and bhindi. The tomatoes mostly did not survive but those that did were still not ripe by the end of the month and in the meantime new seed was sown into 2 beds behind the central office on the 22nd. Winter seeds were sown throughout the month from the 7th to the 27th mostly into 2 areas – behind the central office and in the prepared area of the big garden. Most of the salad, the spring onions and the palak and tomatoes are in the central office area and potatoes, beets, silver beet and radish as well as carrots were sown in the big area along with oats, lucerne grass, 1 bed of methi for the rabbits (!) and some European varieties of wheat. The velvet beans sown during the monsoon in front of the fence near the workshop wall produced 2kg of beans this month.
There was no full time employment for the vegetables although I did receive some assistance from the lady employed to cut grasses in the big garden for 2 days for the purpose of transplanting spring onions and also for digging the northern boundary of the Shiv Bagh where we have transplanted some European marigold plants.(22nd)
Conversion from corn field to mustard meadow
The metamorphosis of our Shiv Bagh lawn area continued this month with a further cleaning of the grass, ploughing and the adding of some more gobar and furrowing following the broadcast of some yellow mustard seeds that Swamiji organized. Prior to the sowing of seeds, our ashram cows were invited inside the area and enjoyed a good feed on the grasses and corn stalks as did our horses. The mustard plants will blossom in January with beautiful yellow blooms which will give great joy to the thousands of wild bees living on the verandah roves of the white building. If the bees travel to similar mustard flowers on the neighbouring farm they will be poisoned as this farmer sprays his crop with poisons.
The first watering from the talab took a total of 16 hours and prior to that, three quarters of the beds were sown with mooli seeds on their boundaries (100g) of seeds. The remaining boundaries were planted with black carrot seeds on the 29th. By the 27th most of the mustard and mooli was up and the second irrigation took place during the first week of December.
The Organic Store
For the winter we shall prepare some fresh amla powder from our trees and some capsules from Moringa oleifera dried leaf powder as well as dried rose petals. There was a lot of interest in the seed section. Sonamukhi leaf powder will also be available from our new plantation in the New Year.
This year our winter plantation in the big garden is a combination of oats, lucerne grass, Napier grass (from the previous autumn and now standing above 10 feet and going to seed) as well as winter roots such as carrots, beets and round radishes known locally as lal shalgam, silverbeet, garlic and methi. We have fenced off the area to keep the horses at bay because they will be grazing in the area until Holi. By the end of the month everything was up and the area looks like a green carpet and will keep our mares and fillies as well as 2 bulls – Surya Narayan and Surdas – in green fodder.
25 papitas saplings variety Taiwanese Red were purchased from Pali KVK on the 28th. These have been transplanted to the workshop permaculture area as this is presently the only area irrigated with pure sweet water in the ashram. Last year’s deshi variety are now mostly above 8 feet and some are bearing fruit which is being consumed as a vegetable. It is unlikely that these will ripen before Holi. 5kg were harvested this month.
The bananas trees (4 out of 7 have survived since last year) are in a good condition but have not grown as fast as predicted. Our passion fruit vines in the big area on the other hand are thriving and when Etbin returns this winter one of his first tasks will be to make new climbing frames for them. Both are fruiting and flowering but to date the fruits are hard and pithy with white seeds inside. Perhaps the spring heat will ripen them up. The 20 anjeer trees purchased last year are all alive and 18 have reached maturity and are all bearing small fruits which should start to ripen in December. Out of the 22 chatoots – mulberries – sent from Kailash ashram – only 4 have survived and 2 of these are tall but too much shaded by others trees. These should fruit around March as they did last year. The imlis (tamarinds) are doing well in the line along the southern fence of the big garden – 7 have survived since they were planted there in 2010. Grape vines and olive groves are a possibility in the future.
Now that our lemons trees are up and running I have been dreaming of an orange grove! As luck would have it the KVK are going to stock a reliable variety next month and have agreed to supply us with some. Fruit trees are a challenge in this semi arid area but we must push onwards to the future until we make new breakthroughs because the quality and condition of the local or inter-state- imported fruits are neither good nor healthy due to over use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers in this industry. We need to bring the consciousness of the industry of agriculture back to the cottage industry of market and domestic gardening in order to keep it pure and safe not just for humans but for the birds, bees, animals, insects and the soil and water.
Talab on 2 metres at end of the month
It would take a miracle for our rain harvest this year to stretch until next monsoon and we will need to use it with care until then. It was pumped for 16 hours this month for the mustard alone and during that evening and night and then morning the height of the water dropped from 2.27m to 2.23m. For the irrigation of the salad area behind the workshop which includes spring onions, beetroots, tomatoes and a bed of coriander as well as some pyrethrum and the workshop area and the Shiv Bagh the pump was run for a total of 14 hours this month compared with 11 hours in October and also in September.
Fortunately the 2nd irrigation of the mustard was done from the 30th November to the 2nd December using the water from our kua (open well) and this took longer due to lower pressure. The generator was used to pump out the water. It is estimated that there will be 3 more waterings of the mustard plantation.
Shiv Bagh update
Our ornamental garden is thriving now that the Bermuda grass lawn has been replaced with mustard, daikon radish and black carrots. Sunflower seeds were also sown around the boundary but these have not germinated probably due to their age as they have been here since 2007. Last year they grew in abundance but somehow the weevils found them this year and now our squirrels are enjoying what remains.
The coriander sown in the upper eastern part of the Shiv Bagh is thriving and will soon be used in our December salad mix. More seed was sown in the lower eastern side mid month and this is also coming up. During the last week of the month some sprouted potatoes were sown between the moringa trees on the east side. Weeding was not necessary this month although at Swamiji’s request the northern area of the garden near Swami Jasraj’s room was converted into 5 flower beds and this involved first softening the soil with water and then digging out the Bermuda grass root inside and then leveling and transplanting marigold plants there.
The kelis and rozelle transplants as well as the blanket flowers from the monsoon period are all doing well and have all started to flower. I am still discovering short cuts which make irrigation quicker and more efficient in terms of running the pump and saving water.
In spite of the failure of the monsoon tomato area, this area is thriving thanks to the sprinkler system which makes irrigation very simple and time efficient and enables a large variety of fruit and other trees. Medicinal plants, flowering ornamentals as well as chilli bushes, edible roses, salad varieties and beans to grow together in a small enclosured area protected from livestock by walls, fences and gates. We will see how this created eco system survives during May this year when we may need to switch from using rain water to the more salty water from our Lakshmi tubewell. All of the fruit trees here as well as the roses depend on sweet water for their survival.
The roses are blooming and get harvested 3 times a week and are dried in the shade and sold as medicinal rose petals in our organic store. They are growing much better than the plants that were put into the east side of the Shiv Bagh.
7kg of chillies were collected this month which is more than enough for our needs. We will start to sell our surplus to the hostel kitchen in December and we can also provide the needs of our other ashrams. Some red ones started to appear at the end of this month and this will be dried in the shade during the winter so that we can make some fresh chilli powder in the New Year.