August 2013 Allotment Diary

posted in: Growing vegetables, Nature | 0

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“To worship everything seeing God in all is what religion teaches. Such an attitude enjoins us to love Nature as well.”

Amma from “Man and Nature”


Om Amriteshwaryai Namaha

InDeed Pledge 2 – Conserving Water

Water is precious and one of the elements AMMA has included in her 6 InDeeD pledges.  Without water we would not be here, nor would much else.  So to treat water with the love and respect it deserves makes total sense.  To work with this resource with love and respect is what AMMA is asking us to do.

These past weeks have seen some amazing warm dry weather.  The sun has shone and many plants have appreciated it.  But plants ‘cannot live by sun alone’ and require water to grow.  Like us, plants have veins and these transport water to all parts of the plant through the roots.  As the plant loses water so it becomes flaccid and stunted.  We are the same – we are made up of over 70% water and this water needs to be constantly replenished to enable us to function healthily.

How can we then follow AMMA’s teachings around the use of water?  It is not difficult nor does it mean you are deprived, it requires you to be more aware to have ‘shraddha’.

In the house really easy examples are include brushing your teeth.  Do you keep the tap running as you are washing your teeth?  Did you know that up to 6 litres (10 1/2  pints) can be wasted by leaving the tap on for 1 minute! In other words 17,500 litres (30,500 pints) per family per year would be wasted by all of them leaving the tap on to brush their teeth for 2 minutes once a day! This is double the total amount of water that a family in Africa will use in a year.

What about washing up – do you wash up your plates and dishes with water running so you can rinse it? Instead of leaving the tap running to wash, you could wash them up in soapy water, and then rinse them in a bowl of clean water.  This is what was happening in Amritapuri the last time Kaivalya was there. Also if you use an eco-friendly washing up liquid, then there won’t be so much of a problem with toxins as there are with other washing up liquids, so you won’t need to rinse as much. As for the dirty water that is left, if you use eco-friendly products then you can water the garden with it.

Also in the garden, don’t use a sprinkler as this wastes so much water. Water directly onto the plants.  Add a mulch – this is a covering on the soil so that water does not evaporate from its surface and so the soil stays moister longer.  A popular one is bark chippings.  You water the plants thoroughly first and then add the mulch. You can also use grass clippings, and this has the added benefit of adding to the soil’s organic content.

When you plant your vegetables, you can place a ring around them made of a plastic bottle that has been cut into cylinders. This has lots of positives.  You are re-using plastic bottles instead of throwing them away. The ring acts as a protection against slugs, and when embedded in the soil you can pour water into it and the water goes directly onto the roots.

Another method is to use a whole water bottle. Cut the base off and stick it in the ground near the plant upside down. When you fill this with water, it will go straight to the roots.

You can install water butts, to collect water from your roof. The water you collect is free and much better to use on plants than tap water.  Water butts come in all different shapes and sizes so they don’t need to make your garden look untidy  if this is an issue for you.

Allotment Diary

What a difference to last year.  Instead of flooded ground and cold bedraggled plants we have a greenhouse which looks like A Kew Gardens hothouse!  Cucumbers climbing on the roof, tomatoes tall and bushy, and threatening to take over, and chilli plants already with chillis on them.

Outside the sweetcorn is soooooooooooo happy!  It really shows that this is a heat loving plant, thriving is these conditions – though we are watering it every other day.  Kale, broccoli, spinach and cauliflowers are looking wonderful with huge leaves.  The cauliflower won’t appear till next year but the size of the leaves is a good sign.

Seeds are germinating quickly – our salsify took 5 days!  As long as we keep them moist they are happy.  We do this by having netting on top of them. This has two uses, it protects them from our ever hungry “pog” the wood pigeon, and keeps it slightly shaded so water does not evaporate as fast.

Our beans are really slow though and this is unusual.  We think it may be due to the cold start of the year, and that we have not been watering them enough.  They are starting to look happier and we had our first bean the other day (we always have a ceremonial “first bean” eating!!). We have also had courgettes and our butternut squash is looking like a tropical plant – no fruit as yet but lots of huge leaves and it may yet take over the whole allotment.

We have had quite a few barbeques here as well and visitors have helped us water and in return had cucumbers, strawberries and leafy stuff.

Fruit appears to love the weather – strawberries have been amazing, gooseberries look like they are going to be a heavy crop, along with currants and apples.  We are thinking up lots of different ways to preserve this bounty so not to waste them: chutneys, relishes, jams, fruit leathers, dried fruit, bottled stewed fruit .  It will be great to have fruit throughout the winter.  And are great for pressies!

The flowers on the beds have done well, and the bees are very happy and this is so important.  Did you know that 75% of the world food depends on insects?  Mother Earth is so amazing in how we all work together in partnership.  By planting all the flowers we are making our allotment inclusive!  Our broad beans have been really good this year and I expect even though the runner beans are late they too will benefit from this.

Well this is also goodbye.  We have been updating, suggesting and otherwise chatting to you all about this allotment for 3 years.  You know it as well as we do!  It is now time to give others a chance to share their experiences with us all, so this will be our last allotment article.

Lots of love Kaivalya and Richard

 Om Namah Shivaya

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