Jadan organic garden reports - Winter to Spring for February 2014
Jadan organic garden reports including: After neem cutting, our cows enjoying neem leaves.
The total for the month was 392kg which included 118kg of potatoes, 72 carrots and 70kg of silver beet. By the end of the month most of the winter produce had been harvested with the exception of the silver beet, a few spring onions and the coriander. The baingan plants have started to produce more fruits and the tomatoes are green and waiting for the spring sun to ripen them. We managed to harvest the potatoes ourselves and to dig over the nitrogen rich beds that will be used for the summer bhindi. The last of the lettuce was harvested on the 18th and the hearts had already become slimy due to the increased temperature and some of the plants were going to seed. We still have enough endive/chicory to supply green salad for most of March. The pea vines to the east of the tomato plantation remained after the endive was harvested there and some pods developed this month.
We obtained seeds this month from our usual supplier in Udaipur by mail and also from Marudhar Agencies in Pali (17th and 20th) and the seeds were sown (bhindi and chandaliya) on the 3rd of March and on the 6th of March. This month we prepared the beds in the big garden manually as we have recycled from the winter plantation. Later the oat beds will be re-dug and planted with jowar seed and so most of the big area will be horse fodder with okra and amaranth in between. The garlic is 2 feet high and will as usual be harvested around the beginning of April. This month pressure in the main tube well began to drop. From the first week in March we shall water the area during the night – around 7pm to 10pm. During the last week of February we transplanted all of the inner clumps of Napier grass between the remaining silver beet plants and so far it has survived.
The palak went to seed during thel month and the 2 beds that we left to seed stood over 1.5 metres by the end of the month and the seeds smell very sweet. They should be collected after Holi on the 16th of March.
We plan to makeover the area opposite the workshop so that seeds of musk melon, bottle gourd, cluster beans, round gourd, spinach, snap melon, ridge gourd will be sown there. In any case this area is irrigated and there is much wasted space between the small trees and ornamentals and herbs and these types of vegetables will be very very happy to get sweet water. Some of the soil there is quite rich from composted materials and we added some very well composted gobar gas slurry there on the 22nd. We have had many trials and tribulations with our summer plantation over the last 4 years. Let us hope that this will be a good harvest!
Our Santoshanand from Slovakia began a big project on the 12th when he started to thin some of the cross branches and lower branches from our lemon trees. Last year they did receive a light pruning but this is nothing compared to work done by someone who genuinely has a feel for pruning. The trees look light and refreshed now and after the first spring watering next month we shall start to prepare the annual gamlas and give them all some good and well composted manure in order to encourage their development for this coming year. Some of the locals say that it is important to dig out the small roots around the base of the trees and others say that one should give each tree about 5g of salt.
About every 3 years Swamiji organizes for some tree cutters to come with their special axes to cut back the branches of our many neem trees. This year our cows enjoyed a feast and we added a few tonnes of wood to our stockpile over near the Lakshmi tube well. The trees behind Guruji’s building were completed denuded as were some behind the white house as well as around the Shiv Mandir.
By the end of February the water level was almost down to 1.5 metres and since we are using about 1cm daily including evaporation that indicates that we will or may have enough water until July but it depends on how much is used to make concrete and whether or not we continue to irrigate Shiv Bagh with it. My feeling is that from March we should water Shiv Bagh with at least 50% Lakshmi tube well water. The final watering of the mustard plantation took place on the 7th and 8th and all in all took 18 hours. The total time water was pumped to the gardens was 13 hours and around 3 tankers were filled this month – for the lemons trees, Barlas, Mataji’s Samadhi, Peepuls and kalpa vrish and for filling several drums with talab water for the anjeers, passion fruit vines and the mulberries. The harvesting of the mustard began on the 2nd of March.
The change of seasons – from the cold and dewy late winter to the early spring is typically extreme reflecting the nature of life in the semi-arid zone of Rajasthan. The leaves turn yellow and start to fall in torrents and the winds become intense and the heat slowly builds up, leaving behind winter chills. As the light from the sun intensifies, the soil starts to look more parched and pale and becomes brittle and cracked. Life starts to stir beneath shady and moist areas of rotting foliage and now is the time to rake up boundaries and prune trees and shrubs and vines. Weeding should be completed before the summer planting and irrigation becomes a little more intensive. The brown marigolds start to dry up and the brighter types germinate – the yellow, golden and orange. The mint starts to relax and stretch out and the figs and mulberries busily create sweet fruits for us to enjoy in the early summer heat at the end of March. It is all a divine plan and totally supported by the beautiful sweet rain water in our talab.
The final transplanting session was on the 22nd and even then the plants were too large to be successfully shifted to two ex-spinach beds and one onion bed. Some of the plants in the original seedling beds had huge fruit on them by the end of the month and all the plants without exception are covered with hundreds of the tiny black flies that the locals call mola. As a result the plants were regularly sprinkled with a mix of ash and neem powder and a couple of times pelted with homemade biospray which was updated this month with the addition of fresh cow urine and some crushed garlic. In addition to this a muslin cloth bag containing a few grams of hing has been fixed to the end of the irrigation pipe. We gave away more than 100 plants to some of the workers too for their own garden plots. It looks like it could be a big harvest this year. I always say that one can never have too many tomatoes – but let’s see!
Shiv Bagh and Workshop area
Only two waterings of the Shiv Bagh were necessary this month and some of the channels broke and caused some difficulty but some improvement came when tree litter was removed from the channels. All in all the beds look lively and attractive due to the many flowers – especially on the east side and everything is growing nicely thank to the sweet water. The golden hedge channels need to be repaired and Bermuda grass is a problem there but I don’t see us managing this before the 2014 monsoon. The area will be in survival mode and on severe water rationing from March through till July. What to do.
The potatoes sown in the west beds in December were not very successful – about 3kg – probably due to infrequent watering. The black carrot seeds sown along the west and southern lawn areas also failed due to the same reason.
We had a big makeover of the much neglected southern end of the workshop garden on the 21st when myself and 3 ladies removed some tulsi plants that were very much soiled by bird guano as well as some weeds and within no time the area was cleaned and will be used for the cultivation of sweet melons next month as the area is a little shady with good rich soil.