17 December, 2011

Growing Vegetables

There is a belief among farmers - that for best results, seeds of flowering plants should be sown during the period of the waxing moon & seeds of vegetables & fruits, during the period of the waning moon. The same belief holds good for planting cuttings/ saplings of flowers/ vegetables & fruits. Of course, there is no logic or scientific explanation to this - only a psychological comfort that one has begun correctly!

Early summer is the best time to grow vegetables, if one can ensure plenty of water to the plants. But, for most of us, summer is the time for vacations - quite inconvenient to provide constant attention. Early monsoon is also okay, but, the saplings could waste away if heavy rains set in just after sprouting. Of course, the quality of seeds are very important. Sometimes, seeds that are more than a year old don't sprout at all :(

The grower's woes begin right from the moment the seeds are sown - ants simply love them. The organic method is to sprinkle some coarsely ground rice on the seed bed. Ants, you see, prefer rice to vegetable seeds!

Once the seeds sprout, ash, preferably from the hearth, has to be sprinkled liberally. Again, to avoid ants (ash makes it difficult for ants to move about - they avoid 'ashy' zones).

Soon, the sprouts have to be relocated - to bigger beds/ pots/ polythene bags,... Very soon, the saplings are about a foot high and it is time to provide proper, sturdy supports, lots of water, organic nourishment like cow dung/ goat droppings/ groundnut cake,...


Your joy on seeing the flowers will be shared by insects and other assorted pests. Once again, it is time to sprinkle ash/ spray pesticides. Diluted decoctions of the crushed leaves of either neem, marigold or siam weed, diluted urine of cow are some excellent natural pesticides.

More days of regular watering, de-pesting, providing nourishment, and, finally, finally, the fresh, ready-to-use vegetable! Phew! a very tough job! Just imagine how hard it must be for the professionals! In addition, they have to contend with the fickle markets.

Speaking for myself, I lost access to hearth ash, farmyard manure & rustic wisdom ever since my friend Guttappajja passed away. Now, I make do with kitchen waste and commercially available organic manure. For supports, I place the pots near existing sturdy shrubs. Some trial & error methods with what I know... all this, simply for the joy of plucking fresh vegetables from my own back yard - at least, once in a while!


Thankfully, not all vegetables are fussy. Some, like the Malabar spinach (basaLe) and the Ivy gourd (tonDekai) are okay if one can make provisions for plenty of water and sun light. But, the prize for the most non-fussy vegetable must go to the variety of spinach in the pic, locally known as 'Nela BasaLe'. It thrives even when totally ignored!!

Growing vegetables is often equated to raising kids - for the amount of care and attention that's required. Between the two, I prefer kids - any day!!

Century on the Bronze Anniversary!

This is my100th post, and today is the eighth birthday of Alter Idem !! That's an average of a post per month......1.04 to be precise!!...