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Monsoon preparedness

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Beautiful Gardens of Doon-61

Make hay while the sun shines

By SUNITA VIJAY
Monsoon is at our doorsteps. Soon showers will pour incessantly. Within no time, the entire complexion of our surroundings will magically transform into an epic green stage. The gardening season begins in June, at the onset of the monsoon. Humidity, winds and water of the monsoon improve the health of plants but also create an optimal environment for pests to infest plants. Preparing in advance for the aqueous season will protect the garden to let it flourish. No matter how small or big your garden is, extract the best out of this nature’s glory and make your garden monsoon ready. Here are a few gardening tips to help you prepare for the most awaited season:

1. Replan a layout for the garden. Find sunny space for flowering plants and vegetables. Lack of sun may hinder with the plants’ growth.

2. Check for proper drainage. A stitch in time saves nine. Do not wait for waterlogging that leads to mould, moss, fungus and then act. Action before time will help. Make raised beds and check for proper drainage for beds, lawns and pots.

3. Keep the pits ready with wholesome mixture if you have plan to plant new plants.

4. Provide support to the plants. Plants often break or fall off during the strong monsoon winds.

5. Pruning, trimming, removing dead branches and giving the desired shape to the plant can be done during this time.

6. Befriend earthworms. They will improve soil fertility, texture and aeration.

7. Weeding the beds and pots will help in plant growth. Weeds may absorb vital nutrients from the soil.

8. Do not experiment and waste energy in planting flowers, veggies and plants that don’t thrive monsoon weather. Check with your local nursery. The ones that hate more water will have to be kept under shed to prevent the plant from rotting especially chrysanthemums cuttings, dieffenbachia, cactus, begonias, pothos, snake plant, succulents, ponytail palm, dracaenas, and few others.

9. Soil erosion is common during the rainy season. It may wash off the top layers of fertile soil. Add necessary fertilizers like NPK, cow dung, neem extracts, compost etc to keep the soil fertilized.

10. Insects invade the plants during humid monsoon weather. If possible, keep provision for artificial light at night to keep them at bay.

11. Avoid walking on wet soil. It will harden the ground while giving un-shapely marks and dents in beds and lawn.

12. Have provision for a covered terrace or veranda, pergola or a gazebo to enjoy the rain and view of your garden.

13. Do invest in excellent outdoor furniture so that the exercise to protect the furniture during rain is avoided. Buying maintenance-free and water-proof furniture in harmony with the plants and garden layout would be ideal.

14. The flooring of the veranda, terrace and pavements should also be given due importance. Use water-proof outdoor flooring material that is non-slippery. This is important safety measure during the monsoons.

15. The water-logged spots in the garden may develop mould. Spray with baking soda solution to get rid of it. Turn over the mouldy soil and sprinkle river sand on the affected area to arrest decay.

16. This is perfect time to change the soil of the pots, to shift plants to new place Remove excess roots from existing plants and repot them in new- healthy soil that will keep it going for a year with constant periodic add-ons.

17. Keep the indoor plants in the rain for few hours to let them absorb the nutrients from rainwater. This may be repeated every week. Or keep a container in the rain to collect the water and add it to your pots. Rainwater is magical. It will improve the plants and make the grass many shades green.

18. This is the best time to propagate plants from stem cuttings. Not all but many plants can be multiplied. Keep experimenting. Dip the end in root hormone and fix it well in the soil that has more sand. Keep the soil humid. Very soon new leaves may sprout.

Monsoons may relieve us of watering the plants, but a gardener’s work doesn’t finish here. There is so much to do to be vigilant towards invaders like weeds, insects and fungus that flourish in excess humidity, all charged for devastating the plants.

Sunshine does bring happiness, but plants dance in the rain. The joy of a gardener is boundless seeing bright foliage. Remember that gardening is a rewarding therapy, never underestimate the healing power of a quiet moment in the garden after working with your plants.