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Sunday, 29 April 2012

An effective fungicide that can be prepared easily for garden plants- BORDEAUX MIXTURE (1%)

As we all know, a quality fungicide is an essential thing for homestead cultivators. For protecting their plants from fungus attack it is inevitable. Let us see how to make such a fungicide known as Bordeaux mixture.
Dissolve 1 kg of powdered copper sulphate crystals in 50 litres of water. In another 50 litres of water, prepare milk of lime with 1 kg of quick lime. Pour the copper sulphate solution in to the milk of lime slowly stirring the mixture all the while. Bordeaux mixture 1% is ready for use. Test the mixture before use for the presence of free copper, which is harmful to the plants, by dipping a polished knife in it. If the blade shows a reddish colour due to the deposits of copper, add more lime till the blade is not stained on dipping. Always use wooden, earthen or copper vessels for the preparation of Bordeaux mixture.
                          In order to confer sticking quality to Bordeaux mixture, rosin washing soda mixture, may be added. The addition of the sticker is particularly recommended for spraying conducted during rainy season. For preparing the mixture, 10 litres of water out of 100 litres required for preparing Bordeaux mixture may be kept apart. Boil 10 litres of water, preferably in earthen pot and add 500gm good quality washing soda (sodium carbonate) .Boil again until the solution becomes slightly dark in colour. Add 1 kg powdered rosin (arpoos) in the boiling washing soda solution. Reduce the flame for avoiding frothing, foaming and spilling over. Boil the solution for 5-10 minutes till black bubbles appear. Cool the solution until the temperature reaches below 45 degree Celsius. The cooled mixture (10 litres) is then added slowly to the prepared Bordeaux mixture (90 litres) under vigorous stirring.

courtesy : Kerala Agricultural University    

Saturday, 28 April 2012

MANGO - Queen of fruits

Sweet mango flesh

Mango tree is a fast growing, long living and ever green fruit tree. It can be grown in homestead gardens easily. It serves as a shade tree as well as an ornamental one. Mango fruit is considered as queen of fruits in tropical region. It is a rich source of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Mangoes are particularly rich in Potassium which helps to reduce blood pressure.
Varieties:  Promising varieties available in India are Alphonsa, Kalapady, Neelum, Mundappa, Pairi, Benishan, Alampur Benishan, Mulgoa, Suvernarekha  etc.  Available hybrid varieties are Hybrid No.45, Hybrid No.87 and Hybrid no.151.
Bearing Mango tree
The best time for planting Mango is May-June, before heavy showers. As the plants grown from seeds show difference in yield, quality of fruits etc from mother trees, grafts are preferred for propagation. Select one year old good grafts for planting. Planting can be done in 1x1x1m pits. Refill pits with mixture of top soil and 10 kg of compost/cow dung higher than the ground level. Plant the grafts at the same depth as they were in the containers. Ensure that the graft joint is above ground level. Stake the plants if necessary.
Irrigate twice a week during summer till the plants are 4-5 years old. For better growth and yield apply at least 25 kg of cow dung or compost from 4th year onwards.  Up to 3rd year 10 – 15 kg of the same is enough.
The major pests of mango are fruit flies and stem borers. To control fruit flies spray 0.1% Malathion with 2% sugar as a bait at monthly interval intervals from initial fruit set up to harvest. Collect and destroy attacked fruits that rot and drop down.
The important disease of mango is dieback. To control dieback of twigs and branches , cut and destroy affected portions and apply Bordeaux paste to the cut ends. To make  Bordeaux paste dissolve 100gm of copper sulphate and 100gm of quick lime each in 500ml of water separately. Mix together to make 1 litre of paste. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

GUAVA – A fruit plant that gives fruit daily

Guava is a fruit plant that can be grown easily in homestead. One or two plants will meet the fruit requirement of a small family. Guava fruits are rich source of vitamin A, calcium, Phosphorus and crude fibre. In India the tender shoots, leaves and bark of Guava are used as medicine.
Today, many early bearing and high yielding varieties of Guava are available for planting. Among them, there are varieties having fruits of large & small sized, white, red and yellow flushed, and round & pear shaped. Promising varieties available in India are Lucknow-49, Lucknow-42, Allahabad safeda, Apple colour, Behat coconut, etc.  Choose cultivars according to our taste.
Seed propagation is not practical in Guava. Layers are widely used for propagation. Layers are planted in 60x60x60cm pits. Before planting, pit should be filled with top soil and cow dung powder or any other organic manure. June-July is the ideal time for planting. Avoid shady area for growing.
80 kg Cow dung, 400 gm Urea, 400 gm Super phosphate and 500gm Murat of Potash can be applied for grownup plant. Fertilisers may be given in two or three split doses.
During summer irrigate the plant once in a week. Pruning may be done whenever necessary.
Guava starts bearing from 3-4 years after planting.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

BANANA - An Economical fruit plant to be grown in homestead for tropical region - BANANA

Banana is mainly cultivated for fruit purpose. However it is used as vegetable too. Banana is grown well in tropical low land. It is available in many varieties with fruits of different size and taste. It`s fruits are rich source of vitamins and minerals. Tender leaves of this plant are also used for serving food in some countries including India.   
Nendran Banana planted  
Varieties available in Kerala (India) are Nendran, Monsmarie, Robusta, Giant Governor, Dwarf cawandish,  Chenkadali,  Poovan, Palayankodan, Njalipoovan, Amritsagar, Grosmichel, Karpooravalli, Poomkalli, Koompillakkannan, ChinaliDhudsagar, BRS-1, BRS-2 etc. Some culinary varieties are also available here. These are Monthan, Batheesa, Kanchekela, Nendrapadathy etc.

A Robusta bunch
Palayankodan,Njalipoovan and Koompillakannan can  be easily grown in homestead gardens. These varieties need only water during summer, if the soil is moderately fertile. They can also be grown as ratoon crop without expense. They need only kitchen waste.

A Banana plant given propping
 The planting seasons of Banana are April-May and Sept-October. Suckers are used for propagation of Banana.  Select 3-4 months old healthy and disease free sword suckers for planting. In the case of Nendran, cut back pseudo stem to a length of 15 cm from corm and remove old roots. The rhizomes should be smeared with cow dung solution and ash and dried in sun for about 3-4 days and stored in shade up to 15 days before planting.
Poovan fruits
Plant the suckers in pits of 50x50x50cm size. 10 kg of compost or cow dung may be applied in pit before planting. Plant suckers upright in the centre of pits with 5cm pseudo stem remaining above soil level. Press soil around suckers to avoid hollow air spaces. Two or three plants are enough for a small family.

Banana plants developed by tissue culture
Give irrigation once in 3days during summer. Fertilisers at the rate of 300-400gm Urea, 750-1000gm Superphosphate, and 600-800gm Muriate of potash per plant can be applied for better yield. Apply fertilisers 60-70cm around the plant in two split dozes, first two months and second 4 months after planting. For Nendran apply fertilisers in six equal split dozes at an interval of one month.
Remove and destroy side suckers till the emergence of bunch. Retain only one or two suckers for new planting or ratoon crop.
Pseudo stem weevil, Rhizome weevil and Aphids are the major pests of Banana. To check pest attack select only healthy suckers for planting.  As a preventive measure some FURADAN granules may be applied around the suckers at the time of planting.
Another major threat for growing banana is Bunchy top disease. To control this, destroy infected plants immediately. Spray any one of the organic insect repellents to prevent disease carrier insects.

A healthy Banana plant

Friday, 13 April 2012

VERMICOMPOST PREPARATION - A best way of disposal of household waste.

Vermicompost is one of the best organic manures, for vegetables and other crops, that can be prepared easily in our home itself. Kitchen waste and other homestead waste can be used for preparing this manure. Vermicompost contains major and minor nutrients in plant available forms, enzymes, vitamins and plant growth hormones.
Vermitechnology is a process by which all types of biodegradable wastes such as farm wastes, kitchen wastes etc. are converted to nutrient rich vermicompost by using earthworms as biological agents.
Let us see how to make vermicompost from household waste.
Select a wooden box of 45x30x45 cm or an earthen/plastic container with broad base and drainage holes. Keep a plastic sheet with small holes at the bottom of the box. Add a layer of soil of 3cm depth and a layer of coconut fiber of 5cm depth above it for draining of excess moisture. Add thin layer of compost and worms above it. About 250 worms are sufficient for the box. Spread daily vegetable wastes in layers .Cover the top of the box with a piece of sac to provide dim light inside the box. When the box is full, keep the box without disturbance for a week.
When the compost is ready, keep the box outside for 2-3 hours so that the worms come down to the lower fiber layer. Collect compost from the top, sieve and dry under shade. Now it is ready for application. Earthworms aggregated at the bottom layers can be used for further vermicomposting. The vermicompost produced has an average nutrient status of 1.8% Nitrogen, 1.9 % Phosphorous and 1.6 %Potash, but composition will vary with the substrate used.

Courtesy : Kerala Agricultural University             

Sunday, 8 April 2012

WATER MELON - A sweat thirst-quencher

Cut pieces of Watermelon fruit

Watermelon is not only a thirst-quencher during hot summer days but also a rich source of vitamin C and A. Although watermelon can now be found in market throughout the year, the season for it is in the summer when they are sweet and of best quality. 
The season for growing in Kerala (INDIA) is December –April. Sugar baby, Arka Jyothi, Arka manic, Asahiyomatto , Pusa badana, Madhu and Milan are some of the promising varieties.
Mature fruits
Seeds are used for propagation. Sandy soil is more suitable for this crop. Seeds have to be sown in pits of 60cm diameter and 30cm depth. One or two pits are sufficient for a family. For large scale cultivation a spacing of 2x3mtrs should be given between pits.  Organic manure may be applied in pits before sowing seeds. One layer of cow dung powder or Neem cake is sufficient for this purpose.
In initial stage irrigate once in 3-4 days. But in flowering and fruiting stage give irrigation in alternate days and reduce frequency when frits mature.
When plants start vining, spread dry twigs or Coconut/Arecanut leaves on ground for trailing.
Conduct weeding and manuring  whenever necessary.
Red Pumpkin beetle and Epilachna beetle are the major pests of this crop. Avoid chemical pesticides and use organic one, as far as possible, to control these pests.
Harvest only ripe fruits. From large scale cultivation we may get 25-35tons of fruit from one hector.


Friday, 6 April 2012

BELL PEPPER (Capsicum annuum var.grossum)

This vegetable is not so popular in Kerala as in north Indian states and other countries. In Kerala, it is known as capsicum or Unda Mulake. However, usage of this vegetable has increased nowadays in Kerala. It is a rich source of vitamin C.
Hungarian Wax, California Wonder, Yolo wonder, Sweat Cherry pickling, Arka Basant, Arka Gourav are some of the promising varieties of Bell Pepper.

Bell Pepper is a transplanted crop. Seeds have to be sown in raised beds. Irrigate the bed well. Bed may be covered with green leaves, up to germination, to avoid loss of moisture and keep optimum humidity. After germination irrigation may be reduced as once in a week. When the seedlings are one month old they can be transplanted in channels at a spacing of 60x30cm. September- December is best season for planting in Kerala.
Apply well rotten kitchen waste or cow dung powder as basal manure. Fertilizers @ 750 grams Urea, 2 kg Super phosphate and 200 grams Murate of potash per 100 sq m may also be added in channels before planting.
Irrigate the transplanted seedlings once in two days. Weeding must be done in time to time.
Bacterial wilt and Mosaic disease is the main threat to Bell Pepper. Destroy infected plants as soon possible to control this. Spraying of 1% Bordeo-mixture once in a month is very effective to control wilt.
Harvest can be started 90 days after sowing. Harvest will last for 2-3 months. We may get 1 to 2.5 kg of yield from a plant.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Homestead vegetable – Bottle gourd

The botanical name of Bottle gourd is Lagenaria siceraria. This is known as Churakka in Kerala. It is a great source of vitamin B and fiber. It has been found to be effective for the treatment of constipation and other stomach disorders. Its fruits are fleshy and in bottle shape.  
Bottle gourd can be easily grown in homestead gardens. It is a disease resistant and pest free vegetable.
‘Arka bahar’, ‘Pusa summer prolific long or round, Pusa Manjari,  Pusa Meghadhud’ are the best varieties of bottle gourd
Seeds are used for propagation. Main seasons of cropping are Jan-March, May-June and Sept-October. Seeds have to be sown in pits of 60cm diameter and 30cm depth. Use 3or4 seeds in one pit after mixing soil with cow dung powder or decomposed organic waste. Only one pit with one or two plants is enough for a family.
When plants start vining, spread dried twigs or coconut leaves on ground for trailing.Irrigate plants once in 4 days. It doesn’t need much manure. Give organic manure whenever necessary. Earth up during rainy season for better growth.
Only tender fruits can be used for vegetable purpose. So harvest should be done at regular intervals so as to avoid over maturity.