Summer is here, and temperatures are beginning to rise. The hot winds that blow in the summer are good for the cereal crops (like wheat) to ripen for harvest, and also for the flowers to disperse their seed. But, the same hot winds can easily dry out your soils, putting at risk the summer crops. Every gardener and food grower struggles to keep the garden green and productive during the hard summer months, before the monsoons arrive with some relief.
At Aanandaa Permaculture Farm, we face the same summer stress that all fellow growers do. Here are some ways in which we deal with it, and you can do the same.
1. Reduce the Area of Plantation: Halve the area that you are growing crops in during this season. Only grow in zone 1 which is close to your water source, and where you can easily maintain and water your plants. Do not spread yourself thin. This is a lesson we learnt the hard way, when the crops of moong & urad dal we sowed in zone 3, dried up for lack of timely watering.
2. Plant dense: If you are growing summer vegetables, plant them very dense. Make sure you are planting in guilds, with smaller plants under the shade of some bigger plants. Sparsely planted vegetables will have the heavy sun beating down on them, making it difficult for them to survive. If you have been following permaculture design, you would already have a lot of trees planted all over your garden, giving the much needed lower ambient temperature.
3. Grow creepers & vines: Nature has designed creepers and vines to grow during the summer, so that these plants can maximise solar energy, and in turn give shade to other animals & birds. They are nature's sunshade/ umbrella or awning! Take advantage of this, by growing creepers on your trees, on your your trellises, in your balconies and over you verandahs. In addition, plant vines near your trees, so they can climb over them as well.
4. Irrigate in the Evenings: Always water your garden in the evening. This way, the water remains in the ground through the night, and till the afternoon sun emerges the next day. If you irrigate during the morning time, you may lose all your water to evaporation, much before it has a chance to soak into the ground.
5. Mulch: Keep your soils covered with biomass. This minimises evaporation losses and keeps the soil moist, allowing the life within it to flourish. You can also grow plants like mint as a green mulch. Mulch, mulch and then mulch some more!
These handy tips should help you sail through the summer months, with enough food & productivity to keep you satiated. And, if you are not able to follow these suggestions this season, do include them in your summer planning next year. Good luck, and remember to stay hydrated along with your plants!