Friday, March 31, 2017

Coconut seed planting - according to Subash Palekar

Last year I planted some coconut saplings and lot of them didn't survive the summer, especially rain was bad in the last season. This year planning to put some seeds and while planning for this, came across some details in Subash Palekar's book - Five Layer Palekar Model's, so thought of sharing it. 

The book gives lot of details about selecting mother tree, seed nuts with details of weight of the nut, size of leaves etc, those details are avoided here.

Basically the mother plant should be selected which is not near the compost pit or cowshed or near the well which gets extra water or manure. The tree should give good production of nuts consistently.

It is best to collect fallen coconuts so that they are fully matured. Keep the seeds under shade for 2-3 months with apex vertical and sprinkle water once in a while.

Towards June when rain starts, make small pits just to cover the seed. Treat the seeds with Bijamritha and insert the seed horizontally and cover it with mulch and 'Ghanajeevamritha'. Apply Jeevamirtha once in a month. It will take around 3 months for the seed to germinate. 

Here is the most interesting part which I am planning to follow in the next season...

Coconut plants grow well in shadow in its childhood and nitrogen also. It is better to provide shadow using dicot leguminous plants like pigeon pea or glyrecedia. At a 3 feet distance from the nut dibble seeds of Bijamritha treated pigeon pea mixed with creeper cow pea and Bajra millet. Before the coconut seed germinates, leguminous plants will grow to a height of 120-150cm and will provide good shade and also as a wind break.

I think the above method is quite an effective method to shield the young plants from hot sun.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

No-till rice experiment - 2017

In the no-till area, last year I tried cowpea followed by green gram basically to reduce grass weeds. It is not that clean, meaning still there are grass and some other creepers. Anyway, this year planning to do rice cultivation in this field when monsoon starts.

In one area, I dumped some dried leaves in order to control weeds, in another area planning to grow green gram, black gram combination for two months and then start rice. While rice is growing, planning to sow moth beans as a legume which will act as a live mulch. Started to make seed balls so that cover crop can grow with first rain and before grass grows strong.

Here are some photos...

Leaves collected in an old bed sheet..

Moth beans seed

Seed balls of green gram..used hibiscus leave juice as binding agent, it looks to be better...since seed is smooth, with water, soil does not stick well and peels off when dried..

Seed balls made in a basin ...white ant soil powdered using a hammer and then sieved it to get finer particles. Seeds were made wet using Hibiscus leave extract and then soil added slowly and then mixed seeds with soil in the basin, this process continued...1 Kg of green gram seeds were completed in 1.5 hours....

Waiting for rain, got only one or two drizzling...Mean while made seed balls of happy hill rice and wanted to put before the rain starts. When visited the field there were some grass growing, in some areas of the farm, all the grass has dried up, here may be because of no-till more moisture and hence grass still grows. So used my Honda brush cutter and cut the grass and sowed the happy hill rice seed balls and mulched using leaves. Since at this stage, not clear which plan will work, wanted to experiment with many trials. These are the different plans which I can think of now, may change as it goes....

1. The one which I did just now, cut the grass and sown happy hill rice seed balls and wait for rain. Idea of putting seed balls early is to make rice germinate and grow with the first rain, either ahead or along with weeds. 

2. Grow green gram and black gram for 2-3 months, sow seed balls of traditional rice seeds ,then cut and mulch, by this time rain would have started. 

3. Grow forage maize for 2-3 months, sow seed balls of traditional rice seeds,cut and mulch, forage maize is supposed to give better weed control since it decomposes slowly, but whether rice seedlings can push through the mulch to be seen.

In all these cases prepared to do some hand weeding and applying cowdung slurry.

Some photos of the field...

Happy hill rice seed balls, came out quite well... Since seed surface is rough, mud holds seeds well.

Field after cutting grass, sowing happy hill rice seed balls and mulching 

Sowing seed balls well in advance may not work in this climate, since termites are very strong in summer. No seed balls germinated, it may be wise to put seed balls just before the heavy rain.

Sensing that field is not ready for no-till, sowed sunhemp, when grass was already growing. In one part, sowed forage maize, but they are not seen yet.

Some sunhemp plants can be seen in between, hope they will outgrow weeds 

The broad leaf plant is locally called 'Appa' which grows in fertile land.


Sunhemp yet to get a clear lead compared to weeds, hopefully in couple of weeks, they will take the lead. The area seems to be very fertile, because of all the residues. Planning to start the cultivation of rice, in couple of months, just to see how it goes. If it fails, cow pea will be done.

Sunhemp outgrew the weeds, in a few places, they didn't come up and grass were growing. Cut the grass here and sowed cowpea, could have kept some sunhemp seeds and sowed it in places where germination was poor.


Sunhemp growing tall, not sure if the field is ready for rice planting.

Beautiful yellow flowers around..


After 3-4 days of cutting and mulching. I had first sown around 4Kgs of Chitteni rice, this is a 6 month duration rice, which is suitable for 2nd crop and matures only in Feb.

One good thing is that Sunhemp does not regrow and at this point weed control is good. I could have seeded the rice 2 weeks before cutting and then cut and mulched the sunhemp and weeds above this. This would have made sure more seeds germinated, but probably would had to cut and remove the mulch to one side and then very loosely spread it over the germinating seedlings. This is how, Fukuoka san used to do, but was little skeptical about the trampling of seedlings etc.


 Some areas where there is more water, rice is coming up, some areas weeds has taken over...will have to watch and see.

Rain has receded, field is going dry, grasses are giving tough competition, let us see how the fight goes..


 Weeds are becoming more and more stronger...


Again this crop also didn't get enough water and at later stage weeds dominated, so this field also can not be used for 2nd crop rice cultivation, planning to try rice in this field for first crop.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Variations of seed ball method for rice cultivation - Kettinatti method by Aji Thomas

Read an article about the variation of seedball method used in paddy cultivation. In malayalam it is called as 'Kettinatti'. This was developed by Aji Thomas of Wayanad,Kerala. 

Complete translation...

This (Kettinatti in local language) method makes rice harvest double and reduces labor. Transplanting of rice seedling requires 20 laborer's while this method requires just 5 laborers. Instead of 30-35 Kgs of seed, this method requires just 1.5-2Kgs. Organic fertiliser mixes are made in tablet format with seeds put in them and allowed to germinated. Aji Thomas, Malikayil Kunnel of Wayanad Ambalavayal is the person who invented this.

Organic fertiliser for this is made using the following - cowdung, aloe vera juice or hibiscus extract as binding agent, one of black gram, pseudo monas, wam or PGPR 1. Methi, and coconut oil.

If rubber hollow mat or tray with 320 holes is used, then doing 200 times a day, we can make 64,000 of this Kettinatti. Once person in a day can make enough for an acre. This method doubles the yield. In conventional method one rice plant gives 27 panicles and 30 tillers and in this method we get 108 panicles and 157 tillers. Only a few laborers are required to install Kettinatti in the field. Typically an acre needs 10 laborers for pulling out rice seedlings and 10 laborers for planting them, Kettinatti needs 2 laborers for preparation and 3 laborers for putting them. Birds won't pickup the seeds. This method can also be used for upland rice cultivation.

Since there won't be any delay in putting the seeds, the crop will mature early.


Met Aji from Wayanad in the VAIGA-2018 exhibition held in Trichur,Kerala. They had set up a stall for this rice pellet method in the exhibition.Now they are using a rubber mat with hole or iron structure. Ghana Jeevamrithm is used as the mixture and seeds are mixed with this and passed through the holes. One thing is that they are constantly improving this method.


A more detailed details about kettinatti..

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Elephant foot yam cultivation

I had planted sorme elephant foot yam plants two years ago and last year it was not harvested, when it germinated, some cowdung was applied and soil was piled around it. This year I harvested some and used at home, and remaining was harvested and planted them after cutting them to smaller pieces. Digging them in the summer was hard since there is no moisture in the soil, but they say, it has to be planted in malayalam month 'kumbam' (which falls in february and march).

I dug them out, and some were damaged, cut them into pieces and planted them in the same place after applying dried leaves and cowdung. It was bit laborious and later when I dug some new holes, I made just small ones and later left that plan also and just loosened the soil around and then put the cuttings and applied cowdung and dried leaves over it. This was relatively easy, and in one place it was watered and their soil was quite loose, felt very happy about that. When water reaches soil, it becomes very loose since there are many earth worm holes.

Planting with minimal labor by loosening the soil and then applying cowdung and dried leaves is an easy task. Probably I can plant around 50 numbers in a day, may be typical laborer's can plant 100 numbers in a day. From my experience, if we apply some cowdung slurry once in 15 days or so, it should grow well. This year, planning for such activities, to be seen what works out.

Harvested ones... 

Cut pieces for planting 

Very hard ground, not easy to dig out in the summer..may be I have to wait for rain...

Just loosened the soil using digging bar...