Aditi Deodhar - Brown Leaf

The Brown Leaf

When I realized that Mulching is the most undervalued Gardening practice, my quest for best mulching options began. I realized that there is nothing at par with dry leaves when it comes to mulching. During my search for dry leaves, I came across BROWN LEAF – a forum founded by Aditi Deodhar dedicated to stop the burning of dry leaves! What a beautiful concept I thought!

Brown Leaf Donate

 

Dry leaves are often considered as waste or litter and are burnt away. This not only pollutes the atmosphere but is also a substantial loss for the environment as what comes from the soil should go back to the soil. Aditi was deeply moved by this method of dealing with Dry Leaves. She shares that when she started to advice the city sweepers against burning of these leaves, they started piling the leaves; to a point that they didn’t know what to do with the heaps of leaves. It was to address this issue that BROWN LEAF was born.

 

BROWN LEAF was founded by Aditi Deodhar in Feb 2016 in the city of Pune. BROWN LEAF adopts 3 way solution for dealing with Dry Leaves – Mulch, Compost & Donate. It now co-ordinates demand and supply of Dry leaves.

BROWN LEAF has a dedicated app wherein you can inform about the availability of excess Dry leaves in your area/locality/Streets which will be then coordinated to somebody who is in need of these leaves.

To know more about the organization you can visit their website, www.brownleaf.org

Aditi says, she wishes to replicate this model all over India where the dry leaves are burnt off! If you wish to take BROWN LEAF to your city or if you wish to know more you can contact pune.brownleaf@gmail.com!

Keep Mulching & Composting 🙂

Happy Gardening!

 

 

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The most undervalued practice – Mulching!

We discussed mulching about a year back! When I started studying mulching, I realized it is one of the most important practices of Gardening/Farming.

Mulching is nothing but covering the soil around your plants with organic matter; mainly dried leaves.

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Covering the top layer of soil with dried leaves prevents sunlight from entering the soil. So the first and direct benefit is reduction in loss of water due to evaporation. Thereby reducing the need to frequently water the plants. (Well… we all know this.. so whats new?, you’re asking!)

While this was a common understanding, the lesser known fact is that, the organic matter (dried leaves in our example) also entraps the moisture from atmosphere, thereby keeping the soil moist. Hence there is a drastic reduction in both the frequency and quantity of water required to be supplied.

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The third crucial benefit is that since it prevents sunlight from reaching the soil, it also prevents weeds from growing. Hence there is no depletion of nutrients from the soil.

We know that a healthy soil is a one which has a high level of microbial and insect activity. Now, there is a particular environment that these microbes love, that is, the darkness and humidity. And mulching exactly does that. It creates the required darkness by blocking sunlight and an ideal humidity level by entrapping moisture. This enhances the microbial activity in the soil manifold!

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The last one, the leaves that are used for mulching, decompose over a period of time and act as a great nutrient for plant growth. So the plants have enough nutrients because they don’t have to compete with weeds and there is a continuous supply from the leaves.

Mulching indeed is one of the most undervalued gardening and farming practice!

Disclaimer: The images used in this post do not belong to reemasgarden.com

How to pot your plant?

If you’re wondering why do YOU need to pot the plant when the Maali (Gardener) can do it for you, click here.

So here’s how I pot my plant.

Disclaimer: There is no right or wrong way to do it. I am expounding a few methods which have worked extremely well for me.

Scenario #1: Planting in Big Pots For Flowering & Fruiting Plants

Pots of Size 6″ and above. By 6″ I mean that the height of the pot is 6″ or more.

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Adding both the compost ensures adequate supply of nutrients to combat the ill effects of chemical fertilizers added by the plant sellers.

Scenario #2: Planting in Big Pots For Non Flowering Plants

If you’re planting non-flowering plants like Palm or money plant, you can fill your pot using any soil and dry cow-dung manure/vermi-compost in a ratio of 1:1.

Scenario #3: Planting in Small Pots For Flowering Plants

If you’re potting small plants that require containers smaller than 6″ I would suggest using only organic compost to pot the plant. No Soil at all. (The plant that you purchase will have enough of soil in it. So utilize the remaining space in the pot for adding compost)

Scenario #4: Planting in Small Pots For Non Flowering Plants

Here, you can use vermi-compost and soil in the ratio 1:1 to pot the plant.

Scenario #5: Sowing Seeds in Big Pots

This scenario refers to your vegetable garden. Here you have to prepare your vegetable bed/planters/Containers in the same way as mentioned in Scenario #1. The only difference is, when you’re filling your top 25%, use vermi-compost and soil in the ratio 1:1.

Scenario #6: Sowing Seeds in small Pots

If it is a flowering plant, fill the pot with organic compost and soil in the ratio 1:1

If it is non-flowering plant, like your herbs and leafy vegetables, fill the pot/container with vermi-compost and soil in the ratio 1:1

Where to get the Compost

As far as cow-dung manure is concerned, I would suggest you source it from your local Dairy farm (Tabela). It is one of the cheapest and best manure for plants. To know more about Cow-dung manure click here.

You can prepare your Organic compost at home. Click here to know how to prepare your compost at home.

Alternatively, You might also want to check out the ready to use potting mix available! Click on the images to know more!


 

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Pot Your Own Plant!

One mistake you can never afford is letting someone else (Probably the maali or Gardner) pot your plant. The biggest secret of a long lasting healthy garden is potting your own plant. 

But before I tell you how to pot your plant, let me tell you, why you need to pot your plant. All the plants in the nursery are fed with tons of chemical fertilizers so that they keep blooming constantly, thereby attracting the customers and soaring the sales. Now when the gardener pots your plant he has already made his sale and is least bothered as to what he is putting in the pot. He just adds some stones and gravels in the bottom, places the plant and covers the remaining area with any type soil that is available with him. No wonder, after a few days, your plant first stops blooming, then falls sick and eventually dies.

Potting your Plant will help you ensure your plant receives optimum nutrition and stays healthy.

I’ll be talking about how to Pot your Plant in the upcoming 11 day series of Lets Design Your Garden starting 21st July 2017!

For more on Gardening Like, Share and Follow the Blog!!

Happy Gardening! 🙂

Prune it Babyyy!!

Since Composting has already been taken care of; maintaining plants is only about pruning them. Pruning involves cutting off all the dried leaves,twigs and flowers. Similarly De-weeding involves removal of all the unwanted plants (weeds) that crop up in the pot/soil. Both pruning and de-weeding serve the same purpose of saving and utilizing the nutrients in soil for the growth of plant.

Dried leaves and flowers when not pruned continue to absorb the nutrition from plant thereby leaving less nutrients for the growth of plant. Once they are pruned, all the nutrients are channelized towards the growing or new leaves, flowering and fruition of plant.

Deweeding

Weeds, again, absorb vital nutrients from the soil and thereby leave less nutrients for the plants’ growth. Hence it is a must to De-weed all the pots and containers regularly.

Happy Gardening! 🙂

Fighting Pests

I have a very different approach when it comes to fighting pests. I believe, if your plants are healthy, they have a strong resistance towards pests. However if you have NOT been regular with adding your compost, the plants turn weak due to reduced supply of nutrients; thereby having a lower immunity which makes them vulnerable to attacks by Pests.

So the Golden rule is to keep your plant healthy with regular supply of compost. I believe in curing the infected plant by giving plants additional dose of Compost.

Rule No.2 says don’t have same plants besides each other. Different plants attract different pests. So if the same plants are not positioned next to each other, there is a very rare chance of spreading the pests. So only one of the plant gets infected.

Rule No 3: Wait patiently for the plant to fight the pest on its own. Human intervention is not always required.

Rule No 4: Take special care during change of season. Plants are mostly attacked by pests when there is a change of season. So in the last month of a particular season, add generous quantity of compost than you usually do. This enables plants to fight the stress caused by the changing season and the pests.

Rule No 5: In case you want to use any pesticide, use an organic one! Cow urine, Neem Extract and Sour Buttermilk are great pesticides!!

Understanding Seeds

A lot of videos that I have seen online recommend using seeds from our kitchen for planting, especially when it comes to vegetable seeds. But before you do this, just understand the two basic types of seeds.

Type I: Open Pollinated or Traditional method: “Open pollinated” generally refers to seeds that will “breed true.” When the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate, or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety, the resulting seeds will produce plants roughly identical to their parents.

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Type II : Hybrid Seeds: Hybrid seed is a seed produced by cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are chosen to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, etc. An important factor is the heterosis or combining ability of the parent plants. But the most important point to note is that the seeds of the next generation from those hybrids will not consistently have the desired characteristics.

Hence I request you to take into consideration the fact that most of the vegetables that we purchase today belong to the Hybrid category. Using seeds from such vegetables may or may not result in production of the vegetables of the desired characteristics. It is best to buy seeds from a trusted source/Brand. However if you’re experimenting, I think using seeds from kitchen is a great way to learn without spending much 🙂

Note: Please do not confuse hybrid seeds with genetically modified seeds. Genetically modified seeds are absolutely different category of seeds. Hybrid seeds are good and do not have any harmful qualities.

Disclaimer: None of the images in this post belong to Reema’s Garden!

MOO!!

None of the discussions on gardening/ farming/ organic produce/ manure/ composting is ever complete without talking about COWS!!

Cow dung and urine are considered one of the most elite sources of compost. Cow dung is rich of minerals and bacteria cultures which turns the soil very fertile. However there are many ways in which we can apply this cow dung to the soil. I’ll be discussing a few of those methods. Cow dung can be added to the compost bin/pit as well. There is no right or wrong way of application just a better way.

The first method that I am going to talk about here is called

AMRUTJAL (literally translated as NECTAR-WATER)

For making AMRUTJAL we require

1kg of fresh cow dung

1 liter of cow urine

10 liters of water

50 grams of jaggery

Now all you have to do is add all of the above contents in a container/bucket, mix them all thoroughly, cover the container and keep it aside for three days. During these three days you have stir the mixture (clockwise and anti-clockwise, 12 times each) three times every day. Fourth day onward you can use this mixture.

How to use: Dilute the above mixture with water in ratio of 1:10 i.e. for every one liter of mixture you can add 10 liters of water and use it to water plants. This acts as an excellent compost for plants.

Here’s a video for reference!!

VC : Amit Dharamsi

MULCHING

Mulching is nothing but covering the soil around the plants with dried leaves/grass or coco peat. Such a covering stops water from getting evaporated and helps to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching is very beneficial in the winter and summer season.

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This is just a reference picture. This doesn’t belong to my garden.

After sometime the leaves start decaying and get converted into compost. This improves the fertility and health of soil.

Mulching also reduces the weed growth around the plants thereby saving all the nutrients in the soil just for the plant.

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This is just a reference picture. This doesn’t belong to my garden.

Mulching is ideal for slightly bigger plants. You can also mulch the soil around bigger plants by planting smaller plants around them. This may not add to the fertility of soil but it definitely help to retain the moisture in the soil and reduce the weed growth.

Composting – 4

How will you know if the compost is ready?

It normally takes around 3 months for the composting process to get completed.

You know your composting process is going well when you can sense a slight heat in your compost bin.

Also slowly the contents will start turning black. When all the contents in the compost bin have turned black, the compost is ready.