Friday, August 21, 2020

Minimum tillage experiments with Millets

No till surface seeding of millet was not giving good results so thought of trying minimum tillage experiments. A small patch was cut using Scythe and small grasses further cut using Honda brush cutter. Long grasses are easily cut using Scythe and then for close cutting Brush cutter was used. May be a better choice will be flail mower which grinds the weeds into fine powder, have seen tools like BCS with fail mower attachments, right now it is not affordable. BCS walk behind tractor also has power harrow attachment which tills soil to a minimum height, this is another option which can be tried. There is also Precision Depth Roller which also has to be explored further.

A small 2 feet area was marked (length wise) with locally made Folkin's hoe. This area is further cleaned using hoe and then channels are made using sharp edge of Fokin's hoe and seeds were put at around 10cm gap. At each place around 2-3 seeds were put and then covered it with Fokin's hoe. 

Sorghum,foxtail millet and finger millet seeds were put.

Tomy sometime helps me!


To my surprise the land became very dry and none of the seeds germinated. While millets I planted during the rainy season had germinated well, moisture is the most critical aspect. On August 31st we got a good rain, so again wanted to try millets. But because of the festival could go to the farm only after 3 days, by the time, it was relatively dry, still wanted to give a try. Cut the grass using scythe, then marked line using Fokin's hoe and then cleared the grass using hoe and then marked rows using  Fokin's hoe and then put seeds at around 0.75feet. This was relatively easy task, may be if we have brush cutter with plastic thread, the whole thing can be made much faster. The idea of making rows and then putting seeds at a regular distance is to make the weeding easier. I feel if we do 2 or 3 weeding using Fokin's hoe, then crop can establish quite well. 

I had to cut few branches of the nearby mango tree, this along with cut grass was piled up for decomposition, mulching the whole area with grass seems like troubling the germination, so planning to compost and put it back to this area.

Area before cutting, one portion was planted earlier which failed..

Piled up grass and mango leaves..

Field after planting..Mulching with newly cut grass is bit tricky...may be next time, the mulch left for decomposition can be spread back


Could see only a few plants of foxtail millet...germination rate is bad, may be because of less moisture. At the time of sowing, ground was wet, but after that no rains and it was bright hot sun. Also who knows, ants also might have pickup some. One option is to put really more seeds, may be 8-10 seeds, so that at least one will come up in that place.


Finally transplanted some seedlings and weeded them once using Fokin's hoe

Monday, August 3, 2020

Pruning, grafting - Some references from Masanobu Fukuoka's Natural Farming Book

There is a confusion how Fukuoka san was planting his mandarin oranges and whether he was pruning it. So just digged Natural Farming book and here are the references I found about this.

"Everything is resolved then if we let the tree adopt its natural form through natural farming. The only problem that remains is how to induce the tree to grow in its natural form. Simply abandoning it leads only to failure. Before being abandoned, my citrus trees had been trained and pruned  into a wineglass shape. The trees had an unnatural form from the moment they were transplanted as saplings. This is why, when left unpruned, they did not return to a natural form but became instead increasingly deformed."

"Obviously, the proper way to grow a citrus tree having a natural form would be to plant the seed directly in the orchard. But the seed itself, if I may press the point,is longer truely natural. This is the product of extensive cross-breeding between different varieties of artificially cultivated citrus trees, if allowed to grow to maturity, the tree either riverts to an ancestral form or produces inferior hybrid fruit."

"Direct planting of the seed, therefore, is not a practical option, for fruit production.Yet this is very helpful in gaining an idea of the natural form of the citrus tree."

"Creating a pure natural form is not easy, and the tree may deviate from this if adequate attention is not given to protective management at the seedling stage. This can be corrected in part by giving the tree a modified central leader form. To achieve an ideal natural form,the tree must be grown directly from seed or a rootstock tree grown in planting bed and field grafted."

In summary, it looks like Fukuoka san clearly understands growing orange from seed is not a viable option, so he also suggest to graft it, but grafting is done in the field. Also he observes closely the natural form of the tree and prunes it to take that shape so that further pruning can be avoided or minimised.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Mango Grafting

Normally I used to buy grafted mangoes and plant, they are generally costly as high as 250/- so thought of learning grafting technique. Since there are lots of videos available in youtube, it is easy to pickup. Bought some budding tape from agriculture shop and two mango saplings around the house were used for just to see if it works. I have a variety called 'Columbu' which is very tasty and bears fruits in every year. Last year, when all the varieties did not bear fruits, this variety gave some sweet mangoes.

Will get to know about the status after 3-4 weeks...

All three grafting has failed...I used the cutting for grafting after  a day, may be because of this, not sure. Anyway, this will be continued again.

Some more millets

Even though I haven't started proper cultivation of millets, keeps few seeds of some millets and also plant them just for fun. I have already wrote an article about my little millet and sorghum, other millets which I have is foxtail,barnyard and browntop millet.

At some point I would like to cultivate them for food purpose,but the major threat is from birds. Small sparrows and peacocks come and eat them to large extend, have to find a solution for this. It is OK, even if we loose upto 25%, when it goes beyond that it becomes a problem. Some photos...

Browntop Millet - It grows quite good, leaves and grain is almost same as little millet, but the grain formation in the head is totally different.

Left side is barnyard millet and right side is foxtail millet. Foxtail millet is quite promising...Barnyard millet is mostly eaten by birds..