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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

ELEPHANT FOOT YAM - A tuberous vegetable

Elephant foot yam is a tuber crop that can be grown easily in homestead garden.Its tuber looks like an Elephant`s foot, that is why this is called Elephant Foot Yam. It is one of the nutritious vegetables. It is a rich source of potassium, phosphorous, calcium and iron. Its tuber, stem and leaves are used for cooking. The scientific name of Elephant foot yam is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. It is also known as Elephant foot and Elephant yam. In Kerala (India) it is known as Chena. It grows well in hot and humid climate.
Two major varieties of Elephant Foot Yam are 'Gajendra' and 'Santhragachi'.
Corm pieces are used for propagation of Elephant foot yam. The best season for planting is February-March, before onset of monsoon. Corm pieces can be planted in pits of 60x60x45 cm size filled with top soil and 2-4 kg cow dung or compost. Corm pieces weighing about 1kg is ideal for planting. Before planting, corms pieces may be dip in cow dung slurry and dried under shade.
A one month old Plant
After planting, the pits may be covered with dried leaves. The planting material will normally germinate within one month after planting.
Thickly grown  EFY plants
Weeding and next manuring may be given about 45 days after planting. Vermi compost or any other organic manure can be applied. Plant base may be kept cool and weed free for better yield. It doesn’t need irrigation.
The crop will be ready for harvest 8-9 months after planting.

Monday, 28 May 2012

CURRY LEAF (Murraya koenigii)- a small tree with aromatic leaves

Curry leaf is commonly used for giving flavor for curries. It is an unavoidable item in many dishes in India and Asian countries. It is also used as an herb in Ayurvedic medicines. It is much valued as anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory etc.
It is fast growing and can be grown very easily in homestead.

Curry leaf is propagated by seeds and root suckers. As root suckers are fast growing, these are usually used for planting. It requires sunny and drained place.  Planting is done in May-June. One or two plants are enough for a family. Root suckers can be planted in 60x60x60cm pits filled with compost and topsoil at a spacing of 4x4 m.
Kitchen waste can be used as manure for Curry leaf. It does need regular irrigation during summer.
As the plants grow fast, trim them regularly to ensure the growth of fresh leaves for harvest.

Friday, 25 May 2012

SAPOTA – An evergreen fruit tree

The scientific name of Sapota is Manilkara zapota. It is an evergreen fruit- bearing tree that can be grown in all types of soil .It requires temperature range of 15-35 degree Celsius. Sapota fruit is a rich source of digestible sugar, protein, fiber and minerals like phosphorus, calcium and iron. In season we get plenty of fruits which can be had as it is.  
The promising varieties available are Cricket ball, Oval, Co-1, Co-2, Badami, Baramasi, Calcutta round etc.
A bearing Sapota plant
Sapota is propagated through layers and grafts. Khirni (Manilkara hexandra) plant is commonly used as root stock for grafting. The best time for planting is May-June. Grafts or layers are planted in pits of 60x60x60cm size at a spacing of 8x8m. 10 kg organic manure can be applied at the time planting. Gradually increase the quantity in later years. 1kg Urea, 1.5 kg Super phosphate, 1.5kg Murate of Potash can be applied for a full-grown plant, if the soil is not rich in organic matter.
No irrigation is required except during early stage and dry summer.
A Sapota tree starts bearing
Sapota begins bearing 3rd year of planting. It flowers throughout the year. But productive flowering is in October –November and February –March. Fruits mature about four months after flowering. Mature fruits, dull brown in color, are harvested.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

NUTMEG – A homestead spices tree

Nutmeg is a spices plant to be grown easily in homestead. Dried nutmeg and its mace (red feathery aril) are directly used as spice and also for making their derivatives. Nutmeg grows well in hot, humid climate. It prefers half shady area. The soil should be rich in organic matter.
Nutmeg is dioecious plant which is propagated by sexually and asexually. Sexual propagation by seedlings produces 50% male plants which are unproductive. As there is no method to determine male and female plants till flowering, propagation by grafting is better. Grafts can be planted in pits of 90x90x90cm size. For planting, the pits should be filled with top soil and compost. The best time for planting is May-June. If seeds are used for propagation, it can be sown in polythene bags. It germinates within 50-80 days after sowing. When the seedlings are 20-30cm high, they can be planted. One plant is enough for a family.
Apply 10 kg cow dung or compost during first year. Gradually increase the quantity of organic manure in later years. Fertilizers @ 100gm Ammonium sulphate, 100 gm Rock phosphate and 100gm Murate of Potash may be applied during first year for better growth.
Regular weeding, manuring and watering during summer are essential for growing Nutmeg.
No major pests are seen in case of Nutmeg. The important diseases of nutmeg are Leaf spot and shot hole, fruit rot and Leaf blight. To control these diseases 1% Bordeaux mixture is effective.
Harvest: When fruits are fully ripe, the nuts split open. These are either plucked or allowed to drop. The two major products are nutmeg and mace. After de-rinding the nutmeg fruit, mace is separated from pericarp and dried in the sun for 3-5 days. The nuts are dried in the sun for 6-8 days till they rattle in their shell.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

BILIMBI - A tree of acidic fruits for pickles, curries and jam

You know Bilimbi fruits? You might have seen it, thickly growing from branches and trunk of the tree. The appearance of its bearing stage is attractive. The scientific name of Bilimbi is Averrhoa bilimbi. In Kerala it is known as Irumban puli. Bilimbi is grown as a backyard tree for its fruits which are acidic and therefore sour in taste. It is easy to grow with less care.
Top portion of Bilimbi tree 
Bilimbi is propagated by air layers and seeds. Air layers are fast growing and early bearing. It can be planted in pits of 60x60x60cm size. Pits may be filled with top soil and organic manure before planting. Do planting at the onset of monsoon or after heavy showers. Water the plant during heavy summer till establishment of the same. Thereafter it needs very little care.
Lower portion
Once established, Bilumbi tree starts giving fruits throughout the year. Fruits are juicy and acidic and commonly used for pickles and curries. Ripe fruits can also be used for making jam or it can be preserved by sun drying.
Mature fruits
Bilimbi fruits and leaves have medicinal properties.

Bilimbi plant

Thursday, 17 May 2012

PAPAYA - An easy and fast growing homestead fruit plant

Do you like papaya fruit? I think your answer should be ‘yes’. If not, I advise you that try to like it because it contains a large quantity of papain, an active enzyme that helps digestion.
In Kerala, Papaya is grown in almost all homesteads. It is an easy and fast growing fruit tree. The Papaya prefers a rich, well drained soil. Water logging area is never suitable.
Seeds are used for propagation. Usually, seedlings will be available in homestead itself, if we used to eat Papaya fruit. With the onset of monsoon we can see that seeds we thrown out starts germination. You can use these seedlings, but you get the best results if you use seeds of promising varieties such as Washington, Honey dew, Coorge Honey Dew, Solo, Co1, Co2, Co4, Pusa nanha, pusa Giant.
20 days old seedling
When the seedlings are 10cm high, they can be transplanted in pits of 50x50x50 cm. Two plants are enough for a family.10 kg of organic manure may be used in pits at the time of planting, if the soil is not fertile. Make sure that the plants are received kitchen waste. No much care is needed for Papaya.
The seedlings flower within 60-70 days after planting. Male plants should be removed as soon as they flower and retain only females. The female plants start giving fruits within 3-5 months after planting. One tree gives 25-30 fruits in one year.  We can use ripe or green fruits according to our use.  


Friday, 4 May 2012

JACK - a tree that can be grown easily for sweet fruits and timber

Unripe Jack fruit
The scientific name of jack is Artocarpus hetrophyllus . Jack fruit is commonly used as fruit and vegetable among Keralites. Tender and unripe fruits are used as vegetable. In almost all homes in Kerala, at least one jack tree can be seen grown. It might not be planted by house owner or others, but grown from a seed thrown out after having fruit received somewhere. This jack tree may not be of high yielding and quality fruits. For getting high yield and quality fruits, promising varieties have to be grown.
Jack fruit differs in size, shape, and quality. It may be classified in to two types, that is, soft fleshed and firm fleshed. Promising varieties available in India are Singapore Jack, Ceylon Jack, Muttan varikka,Safeda, khaja, Bhusila, Bhadaiyan, etc. Singapore jack, Ceylon jack and Muttan varikka are early bearing and of quality fruits.
one year old plant
Planting: Usually seeds are used for propagation. For early bearing, grafts are better for planting. Jack is adapted only to humid tropical and near tropical climates.  The best time for planting is at the onset of monsoon showers. Grafts or seedlings can be planted in pits of 60x60x60 cm size. Refill pits with mixture of top soil and 10 kg compost or cow dung per pit to a higher level of ground. Plant the graft in the same depth as they were in the containers. Ensure that the graft joint is above the ground level. Irrigate the plants if necessary.
Jack is rarely manured. Even without fertilizer, the Jack trees come up well under Kerala condition.
The seedlings plants generally bear after eight years and the grafted plants after three years of planting. The fruiting season lasts about four months Jan-February to May-June.
A ripe Jack fruit
The jack wood is an important timber which gets high value in India. It is also exported to other countries. The leaves of jack is also used as fodder.