Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Sorghum (Jowar) in backyard

One plant looking like maize came up in backyard with start of rain in May and it grew well. Later when it flowered and grain formed in December, one whatsapp group identified it as 'Jowar' or Sorghum. Not sure, how it came up there, may be I had a number of millet seeds from Organic World Congress and it would have been one of it.

It grew very tall, may be around 8-9 feet and with many tillers and many bunches of flowers were seen and grains also are in plenty. It looks to be a good crop for natural farming, not sure how to process it or cook it, anyway will be trying it in one patch in next year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Making trenches in farm

Summer is very harsh and there won't be enough water for watering all areas. So has been looking for options to fight the drought and one such option was to make trenches. Subash Palekar talks about this in his books and Bhaskar Save also used this in his farm. Fukuoka San suggests to take coutour trenches and fill it with trees cut while starting the orchard. All this motivated me to make trenches and also met couple of farmers who made trenches in their farm - Varghese Tharakan, Trichur, Mathai M Mathews, Nenmara etc..

Basically trenches allows to take rain water to subsoil fast, moisture is retained better in trenches since direct sunlight and wind does not reach here. Also mulches decompose under low temperature to form good humus. In tropical climate humus does not form easily because of high temperature, so once we shade the humus making process, it is formed better.


When any tractor or tools are used that brings out hiding insects and this bird senses it and immediately lands here. Some one was joking, this bird stays close to the tractor driver's house and follows to him to the working site.

Trenches filled with branches

Hitachi machine hired from Perumatty agro service, rentals 800 rupees per hour. Driver Arun did a good job and listens carefully to instructions and do accordingly.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Planting taro in more areas

Some time back collected a few seeds of taro from my native which is very tasty. In my childhood we used to cultivate it on raised bed and used to get good harvest. While at home, we were not having seeds, but one of my cousin used to still cultivate it every year, even though he is not a full time farmer, he kept the seeds. Some people like this left in our villages, are the real seed conservators. 

Last year I planted this taro here and there and resulted in more seeds. Since this is not eaten by wild pigs and rats so far, planning to expand it into more areas. There is also good demand for this and also it has better shelf life so selling is little more easier.

When I enquired about how to keep the seeds for the next rainy season, an old farmer called Manual (we call him Manualettan) from Wayanad who is a tuber expert and keeps many varieties of tubers advised me to keep them in soil and mulch it. So thought of planting them now itself. Cleared some areas by scythe and then made small opening using crowbar and put small seeds and then covered with soil and then applied mulch. I have promised Manualettan to give this seeds when I meet him in December in Vatakara for the annual meeting of Kerala Jaiva Karshaka Samithi.

Since this is being done in more areas, planning to apply some cowdung slurry in the rainy season after they come up.

Mulching after putting seeds

Tools used 

Small pits made and seeds put


Lot of mulch from this tree..


In two more beds taro planted...This bed was prepared earlier and had browntop millet growing earlier.

Inspected some of the seeds planted a month back after pulling mulches, they are doing good. The soil was bit cool under the mulch, hoping that they will survive the summer and will see the rain.


Applied some dried cowdung collected on the cow grazing area nearby, on one bed. This is the advantage of planting along with harvesting since it gives lot of time for these kind of activities.

Kodiyan - Another traditional rice variety

Couple of days back, had to visit Guruvayur area since my wife's uncle had expired. In front of their house there is a marshy land with still some water in it. While chatting with another uncle of my wife, he mentioned that earlier there used to be paddy cultivation in all those areas and a variety called 'Kodiyan' was used for this which is also called as 'Vella Pokkali'.

This comes with long straw and grows in clumps where each group will have many tillers. After harvesting,it again grows back and gives a second harvest after 3-4 months. According to him, that variety is not available now, have to check with some friends over there about this.

Some of this casual talks reveals very interesting information about the past.


Came across this group who cultivates rice organically and one of the variety they use is 'Kodiyan'. Could not get any details of these friends yet.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Taro harvesting and planting on the same day

For root vegetables, Fukuoka san suggests to leave some tubers at the time of harvesting so that they come up in the next season, so it saves lot of time. At the time of harvesting, you have to dig it up to get all the tubers, so planting makes it easy since soil is already worked up.

I tried this yesterday while harvesting taro. Immediately after harvesting the taro, just put small seeds back and covered it with soil. Since the soil is little moist, sown some alfafa seeds also.Could complete all this work, comfortably by myself so planning to extend this to bigger areas. This small taro is not touched by wild pigs and rats while other root crops bigger taro (kandi chembu) and elephant foot yam is completely eaten by them.


above 2 photos,small seeds can be seen..

After mulching

Typical structure of harvested taro...