Orange Red Lantana at Reema's Garden

Flower Garden – Part XI – Lantana

If you want a plant that needs no care, no pruning, not much composting, yet all season flowers.. Opt for Lantana! 😀 😀 😀

Well I just gave you all the reasons, didn’t I? Now what do I write in the rest of the post? 😛 😛 😛

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Lantanas are small bunch flowers available in various colors and shades of Red, yellow, orange, violet, blue, white. etc

Butterflies love Lantana. You must have noticed these flowers alongside the roads/highways. They often crop up on their own and many times are classified as weeds!

These are seriously no care – no maintenance plants. So go.. get them 🙂 😀 🙂

When I say not much composting, what I am suggesting is, you can add compost in an interval of 75-90 days i.e just once in every 2-3 months. Also, I am assuming you’re potting your own plant. Click here to know how to pot your plant.

Happy Gardening 🙂

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An Ideal Farm – Part I

All the posts in the featured series talk particularly about Indian Agriculture Scenario.

We all dream about an ideal farm.. Ideal way of doing agriculture.. and then we just shun the thought thinking its just a dream.. Well.. I just decided to give it more thought and pursue it through..

An ideal farm is a farm that at first addresses all the drawbacks/concerns of current farms/system and secondly, adds value to the whole system, thereby making it an all together new system.

So when I wanted to conceptualize my new farm there were four major concerns that I wanted to address. The Photos to your left talk about the concerns and the photos to the right talk about the solutions. Click on the images for description:

  1. Fragmented Land Holdings

2. Labor oriented

3. Infertile soil due to Excessive/prolonged use of chemical Fertilizers.

4. Inadequate/Poor marketing of the produce.

Yes, you got it right. So we are talking about a fully mechanized farm which is huge in size (runs right till the horizon.. or at least I imagine it that way) carrying on organic/natural farming and supplying organic produce directly to consumers!

More about it in next post!

Happy Gardening! Happy Farming!

The Farming Woes

So here I was with a decision to do farming. But let me tell you, it was not an overnight decision.

As a Gardner I knew a lot about the current agricultural practices, especially the chemical farming side effects. So I went ahead educating people, conducting workshops, explaining them about organic and inorganic farming, etc

Till one day, where I started to blame the problem on somebody else – especially the Government, Farmer and Consumer.   What was I doing? I knew the problems, I knew the solutions and here I was doing nothing but telling people about the problems. That was a wake up call.

It is our duty to get up and do something about the problems we think we can fight. In that split second, this became my cause. This became the purpose of my life. To fight the farming woes!

Inexpensive Gardening – Part 3 – Compost

Over a period of time I have spoken a lot about organic composting and even experimented a lot with them. Here’s a quick recap to all the Composting Ideas!

  1. Cow Dung & Cow Urine always stand at number one position when it comes to compost. To read more about application of manure click here.
  2. Dry leaves are the second best option as they are carbon-rich! To know more about how to use dry leaves as manure click here.
  3. Potassium and Phosphorous are the two vital minerals required for flowering and fruiting. Use all the fruit and vegetable peels from your kitchen. You can also add ash if you find it. To know more about plant requirements click here.
  4. To keep them safe from pests keep them well nourished! A well nourished plant has a good resistance towards pests and rarely gets infected.
  5. Another most crucial thing, to keep the plants safe from pest, is to grow them in right season. I’ll soon come up with an article on seasonal and Perennial Plants!
  6. Mulching is the best way to keep the soil hydrated and prevent it from developing cracks and losing nutrients. To know more about mulching click here.

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 – 3

Some Dos and Don’ts :

  1. Maintain the Air and Moisture level in the compost bin : Adding more of green waste increases the moisture and thereby a possibility of stink and insects. However a correct level of moisture ensures that there is no stink. The microbes (bacteria) need air (oxygen) in the process of decomposing. Unavailability of air (oxygen) slows down the process. Hence it is advisable to stir the entire contents twice a week once the compost bin is 50% full.
  2. If you are covering the compost bin please ensure that the cover has holes in it for ventilation. You can also tie a cloth for covering the bin.
  3. If there is a lack of dry leaves and surplus of kitchen waste; you can dry the kitchen waste in sunlight for a day or two and then add it to the compost bin.IMG-20160825-WA0023
  4. All the materials added to the compost should be finely chopped/crushed.
  5. Put uncooked waste only (at least in the initial stage till you get familiar with composting).
  6. Egg shells are fine but do not add any meat.
  7. Avoid putting any kind of seeds in the compost.
  8. Do not add any citric fruits like lemon to the compost. (I’ll write about other ways in which you can use these citric fruits)
  9. It is advisable to add some ready organic compost to the compost bin as this ready compost contains bacteria culture. This will ensure the speedy conversion of the waste into compost.

Composting – 2

The most awaited article of the season : How to make compost ?

Kindly note that following is a procedure for making compost on a small scale. If you have a farm or if you need to start composting on a large scale please contact me here.

Take a huge container (something like an old bucket or a tub or a big cardboard box)

Let’s start layering the container.

Start filling the first 25% of the container with dried leaves or any other carbon rich organic matter.

Fill the next 10% with kitchen waste. As discussed earlier the kitchen waste is a good source of Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorous, magnesium and Calcium.

Again fill the next 25% with dry waste/dry leaves/sawdust

Fill the next 10% with kitchen waste.

And fill the last layer with dry waste/dry leaves.

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Now if you have analyzed you will notice that 80% of the container contains dry waste (carbon) and only 20% contains wet waste. The reason behind this is :

  1. The elements are required in these proportions.
  2. More of wet waste might stink during the decaying process. It may also attract some small insects and mosquitoes. In order to avoid that we add more of carbon especially on the top most layer.
  3. The dry leaves are very fluffy and bulge up but once you add kitchen waste on top of it, it will go on compressing.

Going 100% Organic

By Organic, I mean 0% use of any chemicals. Making our garden chemical-free. Chemicals are mainly used in fertilizers and pesticides.

I believe in going 100% natural i.e. organic. I will be explaining in detail about organic compost and composting techniques in my upcoming articles.

We will now understand what happens when we use chemical fertilizers:

Chemical fertilizers once mixed with the soil do give the desired output. However they destroy the microbial ecosystem (microbes and other organic life like insects and fungi) that live within the soil. With destruction of the organic life, the soil slowly turns impotent and becomes dependent on these chemical fertilizers forever.

From the plants’ perspective, growing in such chemically treated soil, the plants develop a very weak immune system and are not in a position to resist pests! They get affected immediately by the pests and diseases!! To protect such weak plants from pests they are further sprayed with hazardous chemical pesticides and insecticides. These pesticides along with killing the pests also kill the honeybees and other useful insects that help in pollination.

Going 100% organic is the first step towards sustainable living. With growing awareness, there are lot of organic manure and pesticide available in the market. We can easily use these instead of the chemical ones. In my upcoming articles, I’ll be discussing in detail about composting and fighting pests in an organic way!!