Water is the most prominent factor of life on the planet, and in this context monsoon assumes special significance for all forms of life in the subcontinent.

And what better season to allocate some time for rejuvenation of the desiccated garden patch in the backyard?

Monsoon is the best season for planting, and also for preparing the existing plants for taking in the full pleasure of nourishment.

“Planting should begin soon after a shower or two, when the temperatures decidedly fall. Even now, it is not too late for preparing the plants for monsoon,” says M. Ananth Reddy, Chairman of the Agri-Horticultural Society.

Pruning and application of fertilizer are the two important tasks awaiting a gardener soon after summer. Removal of dead growth encourages the plants to throwing fresh shoots, while manure helps in expediting the growth with ample nourishment. Pruning should ensure retention of stronger branches and proper canopy management which allows aeration and sunlight.

Fertilizer should contain one part of muriate of potash, mixed with 1.5 part of urea and three parts of super phosphate.

This should be mixed with sufficient amount of organic manure which varies between five kg and 50 or even 100 kg depending on the plant's or tree's size.

How to apply

The compound of chemical fertilizers should be between 50 gm and 5 kg only. “Fertilizer should not be applied right at the base of the trunk where the purpose of roots is only to hold the tree up. Roots absorbing the nutrients are spread around the tree. Hence the application should be six inches to four feet away from the trunk.

Again, the exact distance from the trunk depends on the size of the tree,” says Mr. Reddy.

At the required distance, a shallow pit of one ft. with two bunds on either side should be prepared for the application of fertilizer. It should be thoroughly mixed with the soil and watered well.

Application of pesticide is much needed once fresh shoots appear after pruning. External application of pesticides will kill the sucking pests that prefer fresh leaves. To prevent the insect eggs laid in the soil from hatching, insecticides such as Folidol dust could be applied along with fertilizer in moderate quantities, says Mr. Reddy.

Insects need to be culled manually too, as they are numerous and proliferate during monsoon.

Re-potting

Having the insects attracted to lights, with a bowl of kerosene placed beneath, is one more way of eliminating them. Re-potting of the container plants is one more seasonal task of the home-gardener.

One day before changing the pot, the plant should be given very minimal water around the edges of the pot.

Watering the edges will loosen the soil and facilitate the easy dislodgement of the plant along with the root-ball. To keep the size of the root-ball small, peripheral soil should be scraped off without harming the roots.

“Every 10 kg of pot mixture should contain three to four kg of organic manure and a little complex fertilizer. To ensure proper drainage, the bottom portion should be covered with pebbles, coarse sand, medium-coarse sand, and dry leaves, one over the top of the other in that order, beneath the layer of pot mixture,” says Mr. Reddy.

Care should be exercised to leave an inch on top for holding water.

The same proportion of soil mixture applies for fresh plants too. Mr. Reddy cautions about selection of proper nursery people to ensure quality of the plant material.

He suggests a reading of the newly-introduced Nursery Act.

V. SWATHI