Post Monsoon in Jadan Organic Gardens - September 2017
Not a drop of sweet rain did we receive from the heavens, except very fine drops on the 16th and that lasted all of 5 mins, after a morning of heavy cloud and humidity.
The temperature rose and the humidity fell slightly and so the sky and air felt like a fever for most of the month, which would explain why many of us sweated and coughed and sneezed at some point during these exhausting days. It is not usual for September to be a dry month but, given the early onset of this year's monsoon…
We therefore needed to start irrigation from the 3rd and throughout the month we harvested more than 700kg of pumpkins as well as luffa, bottle gourd, cucumbers and bhindi and chawla phali (cowpea), which totaled about 1500kg (if one includes 350kg of lemons) – making it the most productive month in ashram history, as far as organic produce goes. Most of the lemons – after grading – were sent to Sojat sabji market with our school bus and some of the vegetables were distributed to our other ashrams – the pumpkins should stay fresh at 17 degrees celsius in our cool room for a further 2 months, so – Deewali-ites – I hope that you like pumpkin curry!
Before I forget – please bhaktas: if you have any wish to bring seeds (or a pair of hedge clippers), then you are most welcome, particularly lettuce varieties (butter lettuce especially), and parsley seeds; any type of flower (especially sunflower); and tomato varieties (especially cherry). Also and most importantly, pak choy/Chinese cabbage, as this is the only variety of cabbage that I have managed to grow here to date; and about 5kg of large garlic.
2017 papaya seedlings as teenagers. Our organic monsoon produce stored at 17 degrees celsius.
It is time now to start preparing 5 large areas for cultivation of our winter vegetables and the first is opposite the workshop where arugula and daycon radish will be planted along with endive and some radish beans and yellow mustard and pak choy (Chinese cabbage) These varieties mostly belong to the Brassica family of vegetables and begin to die out in the middle of January due to mola – or aphids. Therefore we always plant them as soon as possible, even though October is very hot until about the 25th.
A second area for lettuce varieties and spring onions will be in our corn field. About 40kg was harvested from the area and is drying; it will be ground to polenta and used as an organic porridge for Gurudev. Since harvesting here, the horses have been grazing in the area enjoying the dried corn stalks and other delicious monsoon grasses and cucumber stems.
A 4th bunch of bananas but nothing has ripened yet. The second batch of deshi pumpkin.
In the Big Garden we need to clear more weeds and make an area for carrots, beets and turnips, as well as jeera (cumin) and some garlic, ajwain and some flaxseed. And there are areas in the Shiv Bagh that are free and will be planted with tomatoes (at the end of November) and fenugreek as well as Indian spinach, European silverbeet/Swiss Chard/mangold and basil.
We planted some lauki seeds in the centre of the Shiv Bagh where all of the tall monsoon weeds were removed this month, and some saplings were also planted there, including jamun (Syzygium cumini) and mango. The fruit of the former is sometimes called Java Plum and is useful for the management of diabetes, as is the vineagar made from the fruit and the stone-like seed (gutli) is powdered and mixed with other ingredients, such as neem leaf and dried karela (bitter) gourd. Locals enjoy this strange fruit with black salt during the monsoon months. It tends to suck out the saliva from the mouth! It is also full of iron and vitamin C.
Apart from a ten day weeding program in the Shiv Bagh, another round was also done in the Big Garden vegetable plantation and along the pathway from the entrance gate to the cc road inside, and then we began to clear very heavy weeds all throughout the workshop (Madhuvaani) area and this was completed by the time Swamiji arrived on the 17th.
Area in front of workshop prepared for roquette and mooli etc ... and cypress vine 1200
So October will be a huge month, which includes the Deewali holiday from 18th to 28th for many workers and we need to prepare as many areas as possible before then.
In our lemon orchards, the tall and omnipresent ikad weeds were finally removed and at the end of the month the cows ate through jungle weeds in our eastern most lemon orchard, as we need to bring the plough through this area in order to make harvesting easier. There are no precious grasses on this side, unlike the upper orchard where many days of cutting of partially dried monsoon grasses will take place in a few weeks. The jowar field is very wild – gundas covered with vines, and the sorghum is beyond 4 metres high! This will take some time to clean up.
In October the humidity level drops, and so we can dry a few leaves before the temperature also drops too low – tulsi, moringa and sweet neem (curry leaf) to name but a few. Some amla has already arrived from Rani Farmhouse and Janaki salted a few pieces then sundried them – very refreshing as the sour taste is hidden when the fruit is prepared like this. She also pickles some in sugar syrup – a huge vitamin C boost.
I look forward to your visit in October. There will be some heat during the day, but the evenings and nights are already pleasant and the mornings beautifully fresh.
Love from Jadan Gardens and
September 27th 2017