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Ashram garden report from Jadan as spring meets summer - when the air starts to feel like fire.


papaya seedlings need shade when temperature rises above 38 degrees 600

Temperatures rose as high as 42 degrees this month and so now irrigation needs to be well organized, and the more we irrigate the more the weeds come up – one of the joys of organic farming and gardening! Mostly these are fed to our horses and sometimes used to make compost. This season until July we shall be preparing some compost areas for some 20 pumpkin varieties from Europe.

Many beautiful blooms came out this month in the Shiv Bagh and workshop areas, and this has created such a beautiful atmosphere in our residential area, full of different varieties of birds and insects and thankfully many many ladybirds, which are a natural pest controller.

We have harvested about 100kg of tomatoes to date (the seeds went in last November) and the summer spinach (chandaliya) was also ready this month. The germination of our summer sabji (planted in all gardens early in the month) is almost 100% and we hope to start harvesting in mid April. Some of the beds were prepared in composted areas where the soil is excellent. We have planted okra (3 varieties), cluster beans, Indian cucumber, snap melon, bottle gourd, amaranth, zucchini, summer squash and musk melon, as well as a variety of European pumpkin.

Our papayas are also giving us some green fruit for a vegetable dish and some are still ripening. The seedlings that we made last year (about 30 trees) are still small, but some are already getting fruit on them. In the north end of the Shiv Bagh our Rajubai made a beautiful shade house and we have sown our saved papaya seeds here. We hope to raise around 200 seedlings between now and August and maybe make a new orchard in the Shiv Bagh during the monsoon months.

Our methi (fenugreek) and alsi (linseed) were harvested and left to dry in the sun this month. The gundas are ripening on our workshop trees and soon the sangri will be ready. Though our winter salad finished in February, there are still plenty of green leafy herbs like fennel, parsley, mint and basil to be enjoyed fresh and these have also been dried and are available in the Organic store.The garlic beds are still being irrigated and we shall harvest in April.

flower of mango tree 600 line of banana trees 600

Between 22nd and 28th of March was the worker holiday – the Holi season – and so there was a quiet period with some time for cleaning the organic store and for doing some much needed weeding. At the end of the month the bushes and vines along the fence line of the Shiv Bagh were well pruned. Also the moringa trees there were pollarded, which means removing the upper part of the tree in order to create a bushier tree than one with too much height. There is always a lot of tree litter to be cleaned up in March due to the falling leaves from shrubs and trees, and we collect these in our big trolley and take to a field behind the Bhakti Sagar where they will be ploughed inside the poor clay soil there before the next monsoon in order to improve its quality. If this litter is not removed from the irrigation channels then it blocks the flow of the water.

red bottle brush 600 young mango tree 600

So it is like a big kindergarten at present and we are carefully weeding and watering our small veggie plants; and by the first week of April they should be flowering and then we can start to harvest by the 20th. Unfortunately there has been no rain, though we had some cloudy and windy days.

There are signs too that our fig trees will produce some fruit this year and even the three custard apple (sitaphal) trees in the north part of the Shiv Bagh are starting to flower and mulberries are coming on our one plant in the Big Garden. Every month affords an opportunity to harvest something delicious and fodder for our horses is also in abundance. This is the beauty of the organic life.

Greetings from Jadan and the time when spring meets summer - when the air starts to feel like fire and the winds start to blow relentlessly and fiercely from the west.

Puspa Devi

29th March 2016