Jadan organic garden reports - for September 2013
Sabji report - September 2013 - for Jadan vegetable and ornamental gardens.
Production in spite of drought conditions for a whole month
September 2013 was as frustrating as it was surprising or amazing as it was astonishing. For starters we harvested another 220kg of kheera kakri which made a total of 320kg and also very good sabji as well as salad. Of course some were bitter but it seemed that the fatter they were picked the less likely to be bitter. The vines and leaves started to deteriorate by the 10th and so finally we removed them. Some days we picked as much as 40kg and the average was 30kg every 2 days. The total harvest for the month including lemons (29kg) was 451kg. The labour cost was zero – finally we managed! A year ago, the labour cost for this month was much more.
The greatest veggie joy of the month was the production of 25kg of pumpkins- most of which came from the seeds planted in the east bed of the Shiv Bagh in June and the rest from the keyhole garden. (The vines gave up during the 1st week of September and were removed from Shiv Bagh east on the 11the and from the keyhole garden on the 14th and used for mulch) We harvested nearly 60kg of bhindi and 16kg of guar phali as well as 74kg toru which also declined early in the month. All in all, our monsoon field produced well and was a manageable size at 24 beds. The upper part of the area – although it was weeded in preparation for the chillies in August, was ploughed by the disc plough on the 15th due to the fact that there is no more Pali water for the time being and that in any case the chillies had been planted on the other side so that they can be nurtured by our rain harvest water.
On the 11th several Mucuna Pruriens – a medicinal bean – seeds were planted along the fenceline near the workshop wall. The workshop boys had put the fence a metre closer to the wall in order to make some extra space for the tomatoes and because the space for the tree nursery which had been there from March to August was no longer necessary. The chain sawing of some of the gunda trunks in that area and opposite on the 6th has opened up a lot more light in the area which is necessary for the winter season to come. By the end of the month the bean plants were 2 feet high and happily clinging to the fence. Some were also planted towards the white house where the soil slopes and there is a lot of tulsi. The chawla grow well here this year so it should be ok there too as these plants are cousins.
The final planting for the month was three lines of roquette on the 21st where the dividing fence was. The boys removed this because it has no sense now that the horses have no access to the garden due to the new fence that extends from Mangilal’s gate to the eating verandah. The seeds were heavily rained on but still came up in part by the end of the month.
Replanting Shiv Bagh west
On the 1st it was decided that the best place this year to plant our 60 or so moringa seedlings which were more than 1 metre high in most cases was along the west beds of the Shiv Bagh which is too hot for many plants to survive and mostly empty especially since we removed the last of the European roses there. The work was fairly quick since we had already flooded area and repaired the channel. Staking was necessary with bamboo and pollarding is planned so that the trees will become bushy and produce a lot of leaves that we can then harvest so that production of moringa leaf powder can finally happen. Prior to this some of the kelis in the new tomato plantation were shifted to the east of the Shiv Bagh. This is re-plantation year for this area – with species known to survive droughts and salty water. Attractive and reliable so that we can fill up the beds and justify flooding when it is necessary to do so. It is very hard now to navigate the 1 inch pipes when there is a crop on the lawn space.
On the 7th we transplanted several hibiscus sabdariffa plants that had been growing on the old tank near the eating verandah between the moringas. They were treated with neem oil due to a fungal infection as they had been deprived of sunlight by the Indian beech tree overshadowing them on the tank. These plants are also known as red sorrel or roselle.
Dead trees removed behind white house
On the 6th we used the chain saw behind the white house and removed some old gunda trees and a few dead trees near the septic tank and some dead wood from other trees. This is a neglected area due to poor soil and grow and yet the neems and other trees near to the building have become very tall over the last 14 years thanks to the septic tanks and protect the south facing verandahs of the white house against the summer heat. The fruit trees continue to struggle in this area and we shall continue regular watering of these after the monsoon. Most of the loading of the wood was done the following day and the whole area would benefit from some weeding and raking.
The greatest miracle of all
In spite of certain factors like the Pali weather forecasts that told us that it would be bright and sunny in this area until early October and in spite of the tangible feeling in the air even during the last days of August that the 2013 had retreating and even newspaper reports in early September that it had returned from whence it came, in spite of all of this and a grudging return to irrigation and general failure of our rain fed crops including 30% of our corn, a miracle occurred around 5.30pm on a Monday. I was close to the workshop and saw that rain was approaching and went with my bike for cover. Over the next 30 minutes or so it felt as though the roof was going to be ripped off the building. Such a tremendous wind that I have not felt in all these years in Jadan and beyond torrential rains which activated an almost immediate flow into the talab in spite of the land being one-month-dry. The downfall was pretty much spent by 6.30pm and during that time huge and majestic trees including neems were uprooted – 2 between the Shiv Mandir and the Bhakti Sagar and a tall one – another variety in the east of the Shiv Bagh and another 25 all around the ashram, Nature actually did a lot of pruning for us especially on those long over-extended branches which could be found the following day hanging off or ripped off by the ferocious winds. The 21st brought a shower and then after lunch the following day it was torrential again and there was more in the talab. These conditions were perfect for transplanting the last of our trees for this season and to give new life to our lauki and toru vines, the bhindi plants and just everything basically. Finally the icing on the cake come late on the 27th and then solidly from 5am until 11pm – a huge low front of cloud that covered the sky until the 30th and gave us additional water in the dam. It started up again on the 29th at 5pm and
All this miraculous rain which fell several days past the official end of the monsoon truly felt like the blessing of Lord Shiva. He never lets us down. Now there is new hope for the year and all of the boogla (lanky white storks that feed on the fish in our talab and therefore nest close by) guano that was soiling the walls and pathway between the kitchen and the white house have been washing away – even the white gawky birds themselves nesting aloft the neems at the south end of the Shiv Bagh have beaten a retreat since the 16th. The air there now smells fresh away and the aloe vera and other plants whitened by their foul droppings have been washed clean. It is all too symbolic and all too well timed to be less than a perfect miracle. Though the night of the 29th was rainy and the morning of the 30th cool and overcast and the easterly still strong, by midday the sun brightened the puddles and that massively rapid evaporation of rainy evidence that can only happen in a semi-arid zone began. Let us see what promise October brings…
Yes indeed – soil saturation is an ideal time to shift seedlings and ornamentals that are in the wrong place to better pastures. Most of the kelis opposite the workshop found new homes in the Shiv Bagh and other parts of the workshop area and some guggal trees found near Guruji’s farmhouse were planted in front of the lauki/horse fence and in the northern part of the Shiv Bagh. The Napier grass has also multiplied – from the former 120 pieces purchased almost a year ago – though a third of these died – we now have at least 500 and so these can be put anyway that needs to be greened as they are drought-resistant and tolerate salty water. For starters they have been planted in lines near the eating verandah and in the north of the Shiv Bagh, These are not only ornamental but are an excellent and nutritious fodder for horses and cows. Morning glory and a beautiful as yet unindentified creeper with fern like leaves and bright red trumpet shaped flowers were shifted from the workshop to the office garden where they will happily climb up the fences that Gyanpuri erected in June rather than strangle everything around them in the workshop area.
On the 21st around 100 blanket flower seedlings were transplanted to Shiv Bagh east. They were all taken from opposite the workshop where a previous line of these pretty flowering shrubs were growing. Swamiji commented that He would rather have marigolds growing near to the papitas and so on the 26th some new seeds from Slovenia were broadcast between the 2 long lines of mint with some zinnias mixed inside.
Minor irrigation improvements
During this season – after considerable begging and complaining from Puspa – our plumber managed to find 4 more stand sprinklers in the scrap heap behind the wood workshop. He made them all serviceable and now there are 9 sprinklers that extend from the end of the workshop garden up to the new fence which stands about 3 metres from the eating verandah. As a result we were able to add a line of anar (pomegranate trees) to the other side of the fence and a few deshi gunda all left over from the plantation near Mataji's Samadhi. A line of Napier grass and kelis is also there. This area was empty so we may as well put something there as the sprinklers reach that far.
We also ordered some new clip rings for our black irrigation pipes and so were able to resurrect some defunct stock of pipe and again this will make the solo watering much much easier. In the big garden the long pipes were reorganized and it turned out that we did not need as many as we thought. Therefore at this time there is no need to purchase any new irrigation materials for the gardens except perhaps a drip irrigation system which would be most useful for the lemon trees or perhaps a nice orchard with oranges or mangoes or strawberries or all of the above!
Pruning and weeding
When one has the blessing of being freed from irrigation concerns then the freedom is there to stand and prune or to get down to the soil’s level and explore the living organic matter and soil structure and to relieve cultivated plants and trees from invasive weeds and vines. This month gave a great opportunity after the 16th to experience this gardener’s freedom and one can really imagine what it would be like to have these gardens in a tropical climate or a rainy European temperate climate. Mushrooms were reappearing by the end of the month and some of the mulch that we had put on the Shiv Bagh beds in July was composting into beautiful feather-light dark soil. Oh joy – this is what all people of the soil wish for. Whenever one walks through a garden after a rainfall one can observe that each and every leaf is glistening with the precious diamonds of Godsent manna. Emerald green is everywhere and the special light that comes with a charcoal grey sky in all its tones and shades. I could hardly believe on the last day of this month that this cool and wet would follow us into October and that the saturation will remain inside our holy soil until the coming March – but, my friends, it will be, insallah.