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!

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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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!

LA TOMATINA

Tomatoes are the easiest plants to grow. They grow very fast and You don’t have to worry about pollination!! 😀 🙂  Your Tomatoes are ready in just 3 months!! So let’s start.. 🙂

Take a pot that is longer and wider in shape.

Fill the pot with mud

Add little water to make the soil moist

Now spread the tomato seeds on the soil. Please don’t press or dig them into the soil.. Sowing methods are different for different seeds.. The easiest one is to scatter/spread them on the soil.  This is how the seeds look…

Now sprinkle some water on the seeds

Keep sprinkling water 2-3 times a day for next one week. Also (if possible) do not place the pot in direct sunlight.

The seeds take around 4-7 days to germinate.

The fun begins now!!

After the saplings have grown 7-10 inches its time to separate them and replant them in bigger pots/containers.

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It will take around 20-30 days for your plants be this tall. When you notice your plant growing more than 8 inches know that its time to replant them. These are the tomato saplings that I made for my friends and relatives. 🙂

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Fill these pots with soil and compost. Plant the saplings minimum six inches below the surface. Now this is the crux. If you plant the sapling just 3-4 inches beneath the surface you’re going face a lot of problems later on.

The tomato stems tend to develop roots on them. So the roots keep growing along the stem and if you have planted the sapling just three inches under the soil.. The plant is going to tilt & bend and it will need a lot of support.

So the only highlight point of this post is plant the saplings minimum 6 inches under the surface!!!

And then all you got to do is wait and watch. Water them regularly. Keep adding compost once in 15-20 days. And in just three months you’ll have your tomatoes!! No more buying tomatoes from market 🙂

That reminds me, we all have different consumption rates when it comes to tomatoes but a general norm says you need to have 3 plants per family member in order to not buy any tomatoes from the market!

Have a look at the beautiful tomato flowers..

Baby tomatoes…

Fully Grown Raw tomatoes

Raw, Semi-ripe and Ripe Tomatoes

And the last one is me with my little tomato plants (they all are really huge now) ;)!!

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And This one’s for you….

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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.