We grew and ate potatos [-a small token crop, really], tomatoes, radish, chillis, radish, flat beans, okra and cow pea. We ate bottle-gourd and pumpkins discovered in the bushes. Yes it was a good growing achievement considering the total raised bed area does not exceed 200 sq.ft. [See their reports and photos here]
But January was also a bad time to get started on vegetable growing. Cool weather lulls you. It can make you forget that generally we have a stifling hot weather most months of the year. To temper their cheer, I did caution Karpagam and Sriram that the following months would try them,
And they do now. The sun is fierce. The subterranean flow under the beds is just not enough. We spend a lot of time hand watering the beds. Yield is declining. But none of that invalidate the raised bed idea. It was merely time to reexamine our approach. We are now discussing corrections we must make:
- Vegetables’ relationship with seasons matter. Gourds and cucurbits are doing well in the heat; tomato and radish are not
- Should we try growing under shade-cloth, to foil the sun?
- Should we try sprinklers or drippers for cooling down the plants,besides watering them?
- What safeguards have we against pounding rains?
- Did we crowd the beds? What is the best spacing?
- What of companion planting?
- Does the stiff, reedy mulch needs to be shredded?
What remains unchanged is the conviction that Fukuoka’s four principles are the keys to growing quality food in good quantities.