Thursday, May 10, 2018

Turmeric, Taro - 2018

Had some turmeric seeds from last harvest, since there was good summer rain, started planting them. 14 raised beds were planted, these beds were made 3 years back, after that no new beds were made, just maintaining them. While harvesting some extra care is provided so that beds are not completely disturbed, that saves lot of effort later. 

Started with cutting the grass in the raised bed, then grass on the boundary is cut and put back on the beds, along with this some new soil also gets added. Collected dried leaves from the road, and then made small pits and put some cowdung and leaves and then turmeric was planted.

In two beds, pits were not made, rather just 2-3 handfuls of dried cowdung was put and then turmeric seeds were put, then applied dried leaves. But on these beds, I first removed the mulch and then cut the new grass, some were pulled out also, after planting, mulch was applied back. If these beds yield reasonably well, then next time onwards, complete planting can be done like this which saves lot of effort.

I have a new helping hand, his name is Sivan, since he works with me, the whole thing becomes much more easier. 

No-till bed

Small pits made for planting


Planted Taro also in a similar way

Since beds were mulched earlier, there was not much grass, but removed a few existing one so that crops starts nicely. May be weeding will be necessary in every 2 weeks till the crops are established. Planning to sow green gram in one or two fields just to see if the cover crop takes care of the weeds.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Rescue of a kingfisher baby bird

 Open well is completely dry now, and birds nest on the wall where there are holes. I can see some snake skins also in the well. Couple of days I saw a kingfisher baby bird in the open well. It has completely developed feathers and was crying once in a while and its sibling was heard from a hole, but could not see it. I checked 4-5 times, in between work and never saw their parents feeding them. It looks like this one was trying to fly from the nest and fell into the well. I thought their parents will take care of them, but didn't see them when I was watching. I had one ripe papaya and cut it into 2 halves and threw it to the well, thought if it is hungry, it will feed on that, but it looks like it was not yet trained, so didn't see him feeding on papaya.

After 2 days when I visited, that was already dead !!! Felt sad about that, and now I could see the other sibling was in the well too. When I visited after an hour, it could not be seen, but later found that it is going back to its nest and tries to fly and ends up in the well. Wanted to rescue it, since other one had died, thought, this may also have the same fate. I had a nice rope and initially thought, putting a basket and try to catch it with that. But that was not easy task.

During lunch time, thought of putting some glyrecedia sticks on the rope with some branches, so it can slowly come out of the well. Tied two long sticks and then tied it to the rope and lowered it down, and later added one more so that it can easily come out. I kept visiting him in every 30 minutes and could see him sitting near the stick. After some time, I could see him sitting on the stick and felt quite happy that he is using it. By the time, I was about to leave, he finally made it to the top of the well. I could see his parents also making some sound, after some time he had vanished to the woods and I was a happy man.

Deep inside blue spot can be on the bucket and two papaya halves 

He liked my glyrecedia ladder, sitting next to it 

Finally he is seen on the wall of the well, he can be barely seen between the plants, didn't want to go very near and take photo, since he may be embarassed and fall into the well again, he is first time seeing the world !!!!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Aruvakkari - A traditional rice variety

While looking for the right variety for no-till farming, a friend called Gireesh from Pallassana, Palakka suggested Aruvakkari rice. This is a traditional variety and comes under Palakkadan Matta category. Medium duration around 120 days, and grows tall - close to 5 feet or so.

As per the NBPGR database, there is a variety called 'Aruvakkali' , is it same as Aruvakkari? Not sure, please see the link

Also there is a variety called 'Erumakkari' in Kerala Agriculture University paper 

Whether both these are same, again not sure. The variety 'Erumakkari' was referred by an old farmer lady when I met her some time back, according to her it used to give good yield.

Anyway, I will be trying this one in 2018 monsoon season.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Rice farming - 2018 Monsoon


This year activities started little bit early, starting with green manuring using Sunhemp. Broadcasted about 10Kgs of sunhemp seeds in two fields. The field was little bit wet, asked Palani to water the field also. Sunhemp was bought from Coimbatore Superseeds (Mettupalayam road, Near Central theatre) at 85 rupees per KG. Cowpea which was broadcasted earlier, started yielding, was greatly encouraged by that result.


Sunhemp is catching up slowly, soon they will come above the grass, wherever water didn't reach, it didn't germinate so it is not very uniform


With good rain, sunhemp has been growing well.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Growing vegetable crops as weeds

In my backyard, amaranthus (cheera) grows well, and I can see many new plants coming around with rain without doing anything. It happens with lady's finger and brinjal also, even though to lesser extend. Mostly they come with rain, when land is reasonably wet. This makes me think, why not try to do the same thing i the farm, introduce vegetable crops and leave some without harvesting and may be manually spread the seeds around, and if see if some of it can come up on their own. May be more such instances are there, we may get a reasonable amount of crops. Since vegetable crops are given lot of attention, they will have less competing power with weeds, but over a period of time, they should adapt. Fukuoka san used to do this on to a large extend, once we give more focus on this, things should work.


Amaranthus growing here and there from fallen seeds, it is an easy crop to grow also.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Effect of watering in no-till grain

I have been trying no-till grain for some time now and not successful to get a yield. I used to water this particular field when there was water shortage. Now I starts to think that watering upsets the natural cycle. For example, after November, there won't be any rain in Kerala climate usually and crops/weeds starts receding. By March, April all the weeds would have dried normally and with the first rain, if we sow the seeds of the crop, then there is not much weed competition. But if we water and grow some crops, there will be moisture in the field and weeds, otherwise some crop should be growing at the field all the time.

Please see the picture of an area where I had grown sunhemp at the start of the rain and the field after the end of summer. All the grass/sunhemp had completed the cycle, the field was weed free. This was done in 2013.

At this point I think, may be a when rain has started, if it was not sufficient, may be some watering might be OK, but completely upsetting the natural cycle may not be good, if we are doing no-till natural farming.

In this type of field, we have to start rice, at the first rain itself, otherwise weeds will establish. When it rained, if it was not sufficient to make rice germination, may be some watering may be OK, these are all my thinking, it may be prove right or wrong.

Taro with minimum effort

I like any farming activity with minimum effort which can give reasonable output. Normally small taros are planted by making raised bed, using cowdung and mulch. I have enough taro seeds this time, but making raised bed is too tiresome, so thought of making a small pit and applying cowdung and leaves. I did around 20 planting pits near my farm house, sunlight may be a problem here, may have to cut some glyricedia to provide more sunlight. I just put some sunhemp seeds in this pits and sprinkled some soil above that. With the start of June, I will plant the taro.