Crops with no water

Delhi is a desert area, and the water level is steadily dropping beyond the reach of many of our deep wells. Nevertheless, by Maharaj’s grace, water harvesting, and the dedication and ingenuity of our gardeners, we manage to grow vegetables, fodder for the dairy, flowers, and trees. This year we tried to grow crops in a field that had no water supply—and by Maharaj’s grace, we succeeded.

In September we planted the field with sarson (mustard) on ridges and channa (small beans) in between. For the first few months, a gardener had to be stationed in the field to keep the peacocks from eating the small plants. A large tin was also hung on a pole and tied to a rope so that whomever passed by could tug the rope, sending the tin crashing into the pole and making enough noise to shoo away the peacocks temporarily. We harvested the sarson during the winter and it was cooked for the sangat in the free langar to make very tasty saag.

The main problem was water. Two unseasonal winter rains helped to keep the crops going. But as the weather became warmer, the channa crop would have died for lack of water. Our ingenious welder made a special fitting for the engine on the back of our portable water tank, by which four gardeners at a time could water the field with water collected from a well far away in another part of Gobind Sadan. Several times they watered the field, and at last, the beans reached maturity.

The field, though quite dry, nonetheless yielded an ample harvest of beans in the end of March.  The plants were cut by hand and then placed on the roof of the guesthouse for drying.  Some days later, they were beaten with sticks to separate the beans from the stalks.  The beans were collected and sent to Gobind Sadan’s free langar as compact high-protein food. Even the dry stalks were useful, for they were carried to the dairy as dry fodder for the buffalos. The buffalos are finding them much more tasty than their normal straw.