- By Sannyasi Paramjyoti Howe
May and June at Ishtadev Niwas, are the greenest months of the year. The rains and warmer temperatures bring a rare lushness to the forests and meadows of this otherwise arid grass land. Wild flowers of all sorts bloom and bring out a whole host of pollinators and other wildlife, especially birds which sing their songs of spring and the air is heavy with the scent of pollen, and flowers. Amongst this sensorial magic we at Niwas begin to grow our years bounty.
This spring has been about game changers in the garden. We have our tried and true crops like garlic, tomatoes, onions, and carrots, and some experiments, like the luffa gourd and urad dhal, but the real change is in the systems. Watering has always been an issue on out dry little hilltop. It is hard to keep the soil wet enough. Raised beds which work wonderfully elsewhere don’t hold the moisture and crops suffer. So this spring we invested in an irrigation system. It consists of both drip style and small emitters that water with precision and efficiency. What use to take hours of us going plant to plant with a hose, or using sprinklers that water a large area that includes walking rows and everything else, is now as simple as turning on the well pump and watching everything get watered all at once with less waste. So far the difference in the garden is dramatic. Another, more experimental, system is the sunbelt woven plastic that covers the bed with holes burned into it for the plant to grow in. The idea is that it keeps moisture and heat in the soil and deters the weeds, so far it works, but we will see how the plants like it. The overall idea is efficiency which hopefully leads to increased productivity.
There also has been a theme of never give up. After a long hard winter and a late may frost the garden and grounds suffered a few casualties. Some trees looked to have not survived, and we all but lost the ground cherries. How ever in the last week it seems things are more resilient than we expected. Most of the ground cherry plants that were lost in the frost have re-sprouted and the trees we thought we lost have some green leaves, though at the base of the trunks. In the end it is never a dull moment on the grounds and in the garden at Ishtadev Niwas.
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