Gardening in Monsoon: Tips to thrive your garden

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Gardening in Monsoon

Namaskar Desi Gardeners! We all need to know how to do the gardening in monsoon in the right way, especially when it is at our doorstep. The rainy season in India predictably starts from June until September. To start with, it brings much-needed relief from the scorching summer sun and replenishes the water bodies.
It also gives the ideal opportunity to gardeners to revive their gardens. The abundant rainfall supports plant growth and restores green spaces.  However, it also brings certain challenges to gardens. The most challenging is waterlogging along with pest infestations and fungal diseases.

Gardening in Monsoon: Prepare Your Garden 

To help your garden thrive healthily during the monsoon, here is some essential information and general gardening techniques used during the rainy season in India.

  1. Check your Soil and pots: You need to ensure that your soil is draining out the water fully. If it is clayey soil, then it will be hard, sticky and lumpy. It will retain water, causing the root to rot and the plant cannot be saved.
    To amend clayey soil, add organic matter such as compost, cow manure, leaf compost, vermi compost or well-rotted kitchen manure. Also add sand and cocopeat to the soil. This will improve structure and drainage of the soil.
    If you use pots, check that the drainage hole is not blocked by overgrowing roots or anything else. Use a stick and poke to keep the drainage hole clear. In spite of this, if your pots are still holding water after the rains, gently poke a few deep holes in the topsoil along the sides of the pot. This will provide aeration to the soil and space for the water to drip away faster.
  2. Mulching is important: We underestimate the value of a good mulch. Nature does its own mulching but we need to do our own. Not only is this important for gardening in monsoon but all throughout the seasons. Put a thick layer of organic mulch around your plants. This will not only retain moisture but also protect your valuable topsoil from washing away along with the useful nutrients.
    Gardening in monsoon brings also means putting out weeds. Mulching suppresses weeds, hence lessening your labour. Another also protects the soil from temperature changes, keeping the soil temperature stable. With time, organic mulch breaks down and turns into nutrients for the plant.Get 8 kg readymade mulch: Oriley 100% Natural Mulch Wooden Manure Lakdi Ki Khad /Bura Wood Compost for Garden Plant Growth Landscaping Mulching
  3. Regular Weeding: Gardening in monsoon rains means you become a full time weed puller! Mulching will reduce weeds but still there will be more. You need to regularly remove the weeds when you can. Weeds can be invasive and take up your pots, preventing the plants from growing. It will also take up the nutrients and water and can eventually overrun your garden. As they grow more and their roots become stronger, it will become more difficult for you to uproot it without disturbing your ‘good’ plants. Weeds would usually spread easily through roots and seed propagation, making it a hassle for gardeners.
  4. Staking and tying: If you have plants that are weak stemmed, tie these up or provide staking. You must provide support to tall-stemmed plants with stakes, as they can break easily in heavy rains and strong winds. Keep an eye on young trees and climbers and provide nets or support as needed.

Gardening in monsoon: What to do and what not 

After the soil and other basics, there are several guidelines that can help your entire garden flourish during the monsoon and keep blooming in the upcoming seasons.

Check the soil for water levels: While rainfall, there is no need for watering at all and you need to check that your plants are not waterlogged. Throw off excess water from pots, clear any drain outlets that can stand the water in your garden. Stop using all polythene packs as these are the worst to clog drains. In case you need to water between rain intervals, double check to water only those whose soil is dry. Do not water in the evenings and on the leaves to reduce fungal infections on your plants.

Water Management is key when gardening in monsoon. Plants like roses are very prone to root rot if they stay in waterlogged soil. Along with proper drainage, always avoid watering the plants overhead on the leaves. In monsoon, water the base of the plants and keep the foliage dry to prevent infections.

Know your plants: Some plants will thrive in rain, others may not. Plants like hybrid gerbera may even die in continuous rains but for rain lilies, it’s the right time to bloom.
If you plan to put seeds or saplings in this season, it is the best season to do so. But before you do, know your plant and the season it grows in. Most native plants of India will boom in the rainy season. Flowers like hibiscus, jasmine, confederate rose, lilies, marigolds will grow and flourish. Try planting herbs like basil and mint which grow rapidly in the monsoon.

Pests and diseases: The prolonged humidity of the rains makes gardening in monsoon a challenge. It creates a conducive environment for the growth of pests, diseases and infections. Check your plants for signs of pest attack or infection periodically. Between the rainy days, when the leaves are somewhat dry, spray mixture of neem oil and soap. Put organic pesticides in the soil like neem powder. Some gardeners and farmers introduce natural predators like ladybugs to curb pest populations.

Some plants will be more susceptible to common monsoon pests like the aphid, whitefly, mealybug and spider mite. Using organic insecticide like neem or clove oil should to control the infestation. However fungal infections in monsoon like black spot and powdery mildew are more difficult to control. Remove affected leaves immediately and apply fungicidal spray. Otherwise, you may have to cut off diseased parts of the plants to prevent it from spreading more.

Link for all-natural ready to use spray for plant protection: Herbal Strategi Garden Protection Spray Made with Neem, Lemon grass and Eucalyptus oil to protect plants from Pest and Fungi Herbal Eco-Friendly 

Fungal infection: To prevent fungal infections, first of all you have to make sure that there is proper air circulation around your pots and plants. Prune the plants, avoid overcrowding and keep the pots apart. Apply fungicide if you see an infection immediately. Remember that some plants are more susceptible to fungal infections than others.

Plant Vegetables and herbs: Gardening in monsoon is the best time for growing vegetables. You can plant mint, various kinds of saag, gourds, cucumber, pumpkins etc. You can also bring saplings of papaya, lemon or any fruit plant as this is the best time to grow these. If you are spreading seeds, raise your vegetable garden beds and have good drainage to prevent waterlogging.
Grow herbs like coriander and mint from seeds. These plants will flourish and grow rapidly in the rainy season. Plant them in well-drained soil, add a little compost but not much. Plant at a sunny spot and as they grow, harvest from the top by trimming keeping the lower stems and roots. This will make it bushy and give more and more harvest.

Link to get good quality seeds: Rainy Season Vegetable Seeds combo pack of 10 varieties (Approx. 1350 Seeds)

Prune your plants: You can soft prune your bushes before the onset of the rains and apply fungicide. Get rid of dead, diseased and weak branches. This will encourage more air circulation, increase stem growth and reduce fungal infection during the monsoon. You can also plant the pruned stems during the monsoon to make new plants. Deadheading is also important if you want more blooms. Try to remove old and spent blooms to encourage new flowers and stop seed formation.

Link for premium quality rust-free pruner with PVC handle: FALCON Plant Cutter Heavy Duty Pruning Secateur Garden Scissors Shears Branch Cutting Tool For Home Tree Garden

Pot Location: Gardening in monsoon becomes difficult to move and access your plants. If you have pots move those to a location that will receive at least four hours of sunlight every day. Avoid planting in low-lying areas where water will not drain properly.

Another solution is to put the pots on sturdy stands like these: Pack of 4 Black Plant Stands for Home, Outdoor, Balcony

Self-care: For you, it will also be slippery and have risk of falling and hurting yourself. During the rainy season, it is safe not to venture too much into the garden. The soil or surface will be wet and slippery. Also, many insects and snakes leave their waterlogged homes and take shelter in higher ground. Tree branches, pots and even your terrace can be a safe spot for them. Caterpillars will also increase and while we all want them to be and turn into pretty butterflies, we have to be careful enough to not get our skin in contact with their tiny hairs. Wear full-sleeved clothing and walk slowly if you need to inspect your garden.
When the rain stops and the sun comes out, the concrete surface on the terrace will also grow moss which makes it extremely slippery. Wash and rub the area with detergent. Wear slippers and shoes which have good footing and are not worn out at the bottom.

Protect garden structures, tools and furniture:  If you use a greenhouse or a polyhouse, you need to take care of ventilation and drainage. Some cities and towns have more humidity, making it more challenging. Along with ventilation, avoid overcrowding of plants and ensure light and shade as much as your plants need. Keep an eye for excessive moisture and any fungal disease.
For those who own pretty garden furniture, you may have move it in if possible. Continuous rains may lead to rot and damage. For non-removable furniture, you can get weather-resistant covers for outdoor garden furniture and structures. Still, remove and inspect regularly and let it get fresh air and sun when the rain stops.
Garden tools and fertilizers need to be moved to a dry place. Clean your tools with sanitizer or Dettol before storing them. Keep it in a fully dry place to stop rust and keep it functioning for a longer time.

Using drain cells like these in the garden will help you protect your plants as well as the surface to dry up: Garden Drain Cell Polypropylene Drain Cell and 20mm Drainage Mat for Terrace/Kitchen Garden

Should I fertilize in monsoon?

Before the monsoon sets in, you can add any organic compost to enrich the soil. During the rains, fertilization is not of less use. It mostly gets washed off. In fact, over-fertilizing during monsoon is bad for the plant. It makes your plant have excessive vegetative growth, making the plant weak and more prone to diseases. The rain nourishes the plants any way. Forests and trees flourish overnight. Do not worry about food. Some gardeners apply NPK spray during the dry spell between the rains. Remember that any spray on your plants requires at least 3 to 4 hours to absorb it fully.

Can I Compost in the Monsoon Season?

Yes, it is a good time to compost! The rains add value to your decomposing waste and speed up the composting process. The only downside is that improper aeration due to waterlogging can produce foul odour. Gardeners prefer covered composting bins to avoid this issue, but it needs to be turned around for aeration.

Let Us Apply These Sustainable Gardening Habits

Harvesting rainwater for the drier seasons: There are several ways we can do this. We can install rainwater harvesting systems that will collect and store rainwater. We can use this later for watering the garden during dry spells putting less pressure on water systems.

Organic, organic, organic: Remember that whatever you put on plants will go back to Mother Earth. Please start using organic gardening products as much as possible. There are many natural fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides available in the market. You can also make your own herbicides at home. This will promote an overall healthy ecosystem.  Also, it reduces the risk of chemical contamination of the groundwater that we use.

Native Plants: While we all want exotic plants and flowers, we should have at least 50% of the garden for native plants only. Get native plants that grow in your local climate and soil. Not only are those less maintenance but are also more resistant to pests and diseases.

Gardening in monsoon season in India is challenging but hugely rewarding. Follow these tips and do not bother too much. Let Mother Nature do her work. Some plants will die, that happens to all gardens.

A little preparation before the rain comes, a little monitoring, and these sustainable practices will make your garden lush and vibrant. Indian gardens always flourish with the blessings of the monsoon rains. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gardener, these tips will guide you to make the most of the monsoon and enjoy beautiful blooms in the upcoming season.

 

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