Jadan organic garden reports - Winter to Spring for January 2014
The winter garden
Harvesting the winter greens
Most of the produce in the winter is either green leaves – vegetable or salad and roots. There are also green leafy herbs like fennel and dill and coriander and spring onions which also have a long green stem. This January had 29 working days and 2 amaavasyas (dark moon) – one on New Year’s Day and one on the 30th. There was no labour cost and only a little help from the visiting group but somehow we managed to harvest 446kg of produce.
We pulled up all of the shalgams this month which were not hot like their cousins the mooli and some were used for sabji and most for a salad vegetable. There were 85kg in total and beet root which was also all used this month totaled at 79kg. 87kg of palak leaf was cut and 43kg of silver beet. Roquette was cut until the 20th and then removed (19th -21st) as the leaves were becoming hot and bitter and by that time we were a smaller group and there was enough lettuce to provide daily. The palak was beginning to go to seed by the end of the month and the KVK team told us that they will be good to save. Will we probably only use silver beet next month as there is a lot of it and the palak is developing thick stems now.
The mooli was thankfully low key and we did not clear it by Makar Sankranti which is the norm in these parts. We only harvested 15kg this month and there is much more inside the tall mustard plants. On the 18th we started to pull up some baby carrots which are very sweet and juicy and I hope to use most of these for salad and juice this year instead of for sabji.
So all in all there was a positive feeling of abundance in the winter garden this year with plenty not just for us but also for the other ashrams here in Rajasthan.
Swamiji gave us some gobar from bats collected at Guruji’s Samadhi and told us to put some on all of the vegetables especially on the chillies and the papaya trees.
After the roquette was removed then the beds were dug and raked and we transplanted tomatoes from our 2 prepared seedling beds behind the central office. This work continued in 3 actions (16th, 24th and 29th) this month and by February when most of the lettuce and onions have been used up we hope to fill the entire area with around 1000 tomato plants. We will have enough rain water from our talaab to irrigation here and then the whole area will be used for the horses for their summer night stable from the beginning of May.
The plants from the monsoon time mostly died but some between the sonamukhi plants and near the papayas produced a few sweet ones.
The talab measured 1.7m on February 4th and the mustard is yet to get more water. This month it was pumped for 14 hours for the gardens and 19 hours for the mustard. Next month the watering of the lemon trees will recommence.
New products from our plants included the red dried petals of Hibiscus sabdariffa and the dried and powdered skins of our organic acid limes both of which make delicious herbal infusions. Around 10kg of amla has successfully dried over the winter and we now have it ready for grinding. A fresh batch of triphala churna as well as root powders of Shataavari and ashwagandha were packed into veggie capsules and peanut butter was also made to provide us with a healthy snack for the winter period.
All of the fig trees are doing well and we hope for some more fruit in March. The 7 trees in the big garden lost their leaves this month and started to develop buds and the ones near the eating verandah now stand at 7 feet and have retained their foliage. They have some fruits but they are not soft and some fell down.
The largest passion fruit vine dropped several large and wrinkled yellow fruits which were mostly sour and Tara – the mare – chewed up most of the leaves during her daily visits to the big garden which has sadly resulted in the collapse of the climbing frame. The second vines are looking a bit weak but they are surviving.
Lemon production more or less came to a standstill and we shall start to irrigate them from the beginning of February. They need some light under pruning.
Swamiji commented on the papaya trees several times this month and told me to put bat gobar around them and to dig gamlas which is hard because the roots are so close to the surface. We enjoyed one sabji this month from their hard green fruits and hopefully we will get some soft sweet ones in late March or April. The remaining 4 banana trees need can watering as a back up to the sprinklers and some of the leaves are browning. During their visit on the 31st the KVK team assured me that they will shoot up when the heat comes.
In the big garden we still have 5 mulberry plants and they all have a drum of talab water next to them so hopefully they too will fruit as with last March. It was I pity that I did not plant the 22 that came 3 years back in the Shiv Bagh but at that time that was no sweet water availably and they probably would not have survived. We live and learn!
Between the 10th and the 12th the Shiv Bagh golden hedge was nicely pruned and that part which was much too high on the southern side was finally tamed which has let in a lot more light to the plants there.
In general the garden became beautiful this month – not only from the mustard flowers which were much admired by our visiting groups but also the vivid colours of the blanket flowers, canna lilies and the marigolds and sunflowers. I am still discovering short cuts with the irrigation of this large area which saves pumping time.
Opposite the workshop
Many European brown marigolds also bloomed here during the month and it looks beautiful. Some of the tomato plants produced fruits but most of the plants were removed this month along with the sick looking basil plants. There is a large empty area in between some annattos and other medicinal plants and here we will transplant Napier grass which will help to keep the area cool and shady during the hot season.
Although we prepared the 2013 monsoon area for the summer and it was ploughed and leveled by the end of the month, we decided to plant the summer vegetables partly in the empty winter beds – bhindi in the aloo line and chandaliya in the chakuder and to plant toru along the borders so that can grow up the fence – with Napier grass in between and the oats will be replaced by jowar – sorghum wheat. The sweet vegetable like cucumber and snap melon as well as lauki and guar phali can either be planted in some of the Shiv Bagh ornamental beds or in the mustard area after harvesting as well as opposite the workshop and in this way they will be guaranteed sweet water at least until May. Planting will be either after Shiv Ratri on the New Moon of February or at the beginning of March depending on how the temperatures are.