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Friday, 17 August 2012

GINGER – A spice crop

Ginger is a spice crop growing well in tropical region. It is scientifically known as Zingiber officinale. We can grow it easily in our homestead garden. Being a spice, the use of Ginger is widely accepted in almost all countries. Ginger oil and Ginger oleoresin are some of the ginger products.
Ginger prefers well drained rich soil with organic matters. It can`t withstand in water logged area even for a day.  It grows well in the sun as well as half shady area.
Some of the promising varieties of Ginger are Maran, Wayanad, Mimachal, IISR-Varada, IISR-Rejatha, IISR-Mahima, Rio-De-janeiro, China, and Tafengiya.
Ginger is propagated by its rhizomes. Chose healthy and disease free seed rhizomes for planting. The best time for planting Ginger is during the first fortnight of April, after pre-monsoon showers. For irrigated Ginger, planting can be done in the middle of February.
Plant seed rhizome bits of about 15gm weight in small holes at a spacing of 20x20cm on beds. Apply one or two handful of dry cattle manure in each hole while planting. Mulching should be done with dry leaves immediately after planting.
Regular weeding and earthing up should be done for Ginger. Manuring may also be done before earthing up, if necessary.
Harvest can be done from 6th month onwards for vegetable purpose and 8-9 months after planting for dry Ginger.

Monday, 13 August 2012

ARROW ROOT – A plant that gives easily digestible starch

Arrow Root is a tuber crop that can be grown very easily in our homestead garden. This is mainly cultivated for making Arrow root powder, that is, starch. Its tubers contain 23% starch. This starch is easily digestible. Hence it can be used as baby food. It is also used for medicinal purpose.
Arrow root grown in coconut garden
The scientific name of Arrow root is Maranta arundinacea. This is a perennial plant grow about 2-3 feet high and its tubers are about 30cm long and 1-2.5cm thick.
Arrowroot is propagated vegetatively by rhizomes. Healthy rhizomes with at least one germinated sprout can be used for planting. Arrowroot prefers partially shaded condition and rich soil. Hence it can be grown as an inter crop. It is planted in May-June at a spacing of 45x30cm on raise beds. Apply organic manure according to soil fertility. Mulching using dry leaves or other vegetative portion of plants may be done immediately after planting.
No major pests or diseases are noticed in the crop.
The crop matures for harvest 7 months after planting. When the leaves start drying crop can be harvested. Dig out tubers with care.
Starch extraction: Tubers are first washed, and then cleaned of the paper-like scale. The scales must be carefully removed before the extraction of the starch because they impart their disagreeable flavor if allowed to remain. After the removal of the scale, the roots are washed again, drained and finally reduced to a pulp by beating them in mortars or subjecting them to the action of the wheel rasp. The milky liquid thus obtained is passed through a coarse cloth and the pure starch, which is insoluble, is allowed to settle at the bottom. The wet starch is dried in the sun or in a drying house. Thus we get arrowroot starch.


Friday, 10 August 2012

LESSER YAM –A hairy tuberous vegetable

Lesser yam is a tuberous vegetable widely grown in tropical region. Its botanical name is Dioscorea esculenta and it belongs to the family of Dioscoreaceae. It is a spiny climber growing up to 12 m high, with numerous shallow-rooted tubers. This is a 6–10 months crop with short dormancy period. The tubers are small and are found in clusters of some 5 to 20 slightly below the soil surface.
Generally the Lesser yam is  a rainfed crop. Its planting season is later part of dry season i.e., March-April. If the planting is delayed seed tubers start germination. This should be avoided.
Seed tubers are used for propagation of Lesser yam. The improved varieties of Lesser yam are Sreelatha, Sreekala etc. Select medium size tubers weighing about 100-150 gm. Plant the whole tuber on ridges or mounds. Cattle manure up to 1kg may be applied for each tuber.  Mulching should be done for maintaining moisture and optimum temperature.
Weeding and earthing up may be done one month after planting.
When the plants start vining, trail the same by fixing small poles or providing other materials.
The crop will be ready for harvest 7-8 months after planting.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

SWEET POTATO-A sweet tasting tuber

Sweet potato is a tuberous crop that gives sweet tasting tubers as its name indicates.  Its scientific name is Ipomoea batatas.  In Kerala it is known in the names of Madhura kizhangu, Chakkara Valli etc.  It is a rich source of Vitamin-A, C and digestive fiber. It requires warm humid tropical climate to grow. 
Sweet potato can be grown as rainfed and irrigated crop. Rainfed crop can be planted during June-July and September –October. Irrigated crop is planted in October-November and January- February.
H-41, H-42, Sreenandini, Sreevardhini,Sreeretna, Sreebhadra, Kanjanghad, Sree Arun, Sree Varun, and Sreekanaka are the available improved varieties of Sweet Potato.

Sweet potato is propagated by vine cuttings. To obtain vine cuttings, selected tubers are planted and grown in nursery. Vines of 20-25cm length can be planted at a spacing of 15 to 20 cm on ridges, 15x15cm on beds and mounds. Plant the vine cuttings with the middle portion buried in the soil and the two cut ends exposed. Keep the soil always moist for early sprouting. Apply a layer of organic manure and incorporate with soil before planting.
Some fertilizers may be applied one month after planting for better formation of tubers, if the soil is poor in nutrients. Regular weeding and earthing up are also needed for the crop. For irrigated crop, watering to keep the soil moist is inevitable.
Generally the crop can be harvested 4-5 months after planting. When the leaves become yellow in color the crop can be harvested.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

GREATER YAM - A profitable tuber crop

A greater yam plant (Vine) climbed over a shrub

Greater yam is a tuberous vegetable widely grown in tropical region. Scientifically Greater yam is known as Dioscorea alata. In Kerala it is known in the names of ‘Kachil’, ‘Kavuthu’ etc. We can grow it in our home premises with little care. Its tuber contains 1.3% protein, 0.3% fat, calcium, phosphorous, iron etc in addition to a large portion of carbohydrate.
A 10 days old Greater yam plant 
Greater yam prefers well drained rich soil. It does not grow in water logged condition. It is usually planted during March- April.
Seed tubers are used for propagating the yam. Large tubers are cut into pieces for planting. When pieces are cut ensure that each piece has head end for sprouting. Each piece should also weigh at least 250-300 gram. Dip the pieces in cowdung slurry and allow drying under the shade before planting. The pieces can be planted in pits of 45x45x45 cm size at a spacing of 1 meter. Pits should be filled with top soil and organic manure before planting. After planting, pits may be covered with dry leaves to keep the soil moist.
Organic manure or fertilizers may be applied one month after planting for formation of large tubers.
Trailing is essential for Greater yam. This has to be done within 15 days after sprouting. Trailing materials or Trees grown in the field can be used for trailing.
The crop becomes ready for harvest within 8-9 months after planting when the vines are completely dried up.