Amarjeet Singh Batth
In the plains of India, it is said it never rains, it pours. Water in excess of absorption capacity of soil leads to waterlogging. To avoid direct contact of the water with the stem of the plant, raise a soil mound around the main stem of the plant. Dry ankles and wet feet — that is what most plants need. Keep in mind that the best jungles grow on hill slopes, not in wetlands. The following tips will help you maintain your garden during the rains.
Irrigate on need basis only: The water requirement varies from soil to soil, plant to plant, age, size, season, weather conditions and growth phase of the plant. This requirement reduces during the monsoon. Therefore, watering must be done on a need basis. Too much irrigation can lead to fungal infection and yellowing of leaves. Observe the plant in the morning. If the leaves are drooping, it is a sign of dehydration.
Upkeep of the lawn: The vigorous grass growth demands frequent mowing, at times twice a week. Mowing must be done much before the grass grows high, else the overgrown grass will leave behind ugly patches. The weeds, too, grow extensively during the rains. These should be uprooted as soon as spotted. The lawn also greets earthworms. They are the builders of soil, enhance its fertility, improve aeration and should not be treated as pests. The fortnightly application of urea (15 gm/sq m) is highly beneficial.
Flower beds: The flower beds should not be sunk deep in the garden. These should not be more than 1-2 inches deep. Deeper beds hold more water, leading to waterlogging. Summer annuals like cosmos, zinnia, gompherina, which required twice a day irrigation during peak summer, now just require moist beds.
Potted plants: Waterlogging in potted plants is caused if the drain hole while potting was not plugged with a piece of broken pot material. Waterlogging will also occur when the root system of the plant develops so extensively in the pot leaving no space for the water to seep out. Cemented pots, especially the painted ones, add more to this problem. Therefore, always go for clay pots. Whenever you repot the plant, use a sandpaper (No. 80) to scrap the pots from inside to open up the blocked pores before filling the new potting mixture. Ventilation, sunlight, irrigation and temperature are primary areas of concern for all pot plants. Regular hoeing improves aeration.
Exotic beauties: Plants like Chinese green (aglaonema), pothos (money plant), schefflera, dracaena, syngonium, philodendron are native to tropical zones where they grow under direct filtered sunlight. In this region, these need to be moved under cover in the severe summer heat. These must be rotated to recharge and refreshed under the rain. Within a few days, they will show new growth and improved foliage.
Chrysanthemum: As the monsoon sets, the terminal cuttings of chrysanthemum are taken from root stocks, which had been protected under shade during the harsh summer. The basal leaves of terminal cuttings are removed and treated with a growth hormone and fixed in a rooting medium, which consists of one part of sand and one part of burnt rice husk. The cuttings are kept under shade and moisture is maintained. By mid-July, the cuttings are ready to be shifted in pots containing the mixture. Pot mixture consists of one part garden soil, one part of well-rotten farmyard manure or vermi compost, two parts of leaf mould, two tablespoons of bone meal. Apply Captain (0.3 %) to check rotting of cuttings.
Rose: New roses are best planted from September onwards till January. It requires a sunny location, receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight and well-drained rich soil. Maintain plant-to-plant distance of 2 feet in the flower bed, which must be mixed with FYM and superphosphate. Deep irrigation, once a week, keeps the rose in good health.
Bulbs: Bulbs are heavy feeders and require rich moist soil; they also need a frequent dose of regular fertilisers during the growth phase. Spider lily in white and rain lily (zephyranthes) in three colours — white, yellow and pink — bloom during the monsoon. Tuberose (rajnigandha), with a pleasant fragrance, gives sporadic flowering which lasts till mid-December.
Fruit trees: It’s time to plant fruit trees in newly dug pits of 3x3 feet. A dose of manure in Aug-Sept must be given, along with an application of fertilisers (NPK) before the beginning of flowering and another at fruit set stage.
Vegetables: Late summer vegetables like okra (bhindi), cucumber (kheera), bottle gourd (kadu), bitter gourd (karela), sponge gourd (lauki), capsicum (simla mirch), brinjal (baigan), radish (muli), etc, are sown keeping in mind the late-variety seeds only. The vegetables must be sown on raised beds 6-9” high to avoid waterlogging damage.
Pests: Favourable temperature and humidity can lead to growth of all kinds of organisms, including insects, pests and fungal growth. It is better to take expert advice.
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