Saturday, January 23, 2016

Taro

Taro (called as Chembu in our local language) is very common in our area. I cultivate two varieties, in small numbers. Typically this is cultivated in raised beds or planting in pits filled with mulch. I wanted to try natural farming on this with minimal effort.

Last time I made a long pit put dried leaves under this and later planted its roots. Yield was not that good, but had some roots for making curry.  This time after harvesting just put some roots there itself without disturbing previous bed, and that is minimal work. Planting happens along with harvesting, but not sure, if we get good results. Also on the same area, cultivating again and again the same crop also is not advisable ? Only time can tell this.

This time made some pits and filled dried leaves in it and started planting roots directly. Next time after harvest, I can replant it at the same place and if it gives decent harvest, it will be taro natural farming.

Some photos..






Last harvest of small variety of taro.. yield is not that good, last time it was on raised bed, now put small holes using pick-axe and put the seeds and mulched. Will add some soil after some time and mulch again.



Seeds planted with minimal effort..to be seen if this become successful. Conventional type farming on raised bed need lot more effort. Existing raised bed will be reused. Cultivating same crop on the same place may not be advisable??? to be seen the result.

In Natural Farming book Fukuoka says ...As for potatoes, once these are planted in orchard, they will grow each year from the same spot, crawling vigorously along the ground to lengths of five feet or more and never giving into weeds. If just small potatoes are dug for food and some tubers always left behind, there will never be any want of seed potatoes.

The above statement is the ideal situation...hope to achieve this for taro on some day.



Saturday, January 9, 2016

Scythe - An effective tool for cutting grass

Since cutting and mulching is an important task in natural farming, I have been searching an effective solution for that. I tried Honda brush cutter, used it to some extend, but putting petrol, fiber thread getting cut now and then, being heavy, noise, all made it me to look for other options. I still use Honda brush cutter to clear path ways and some time to clear the grass grown in the raised bed, it is a good tool.

Then I looked for Scythe, and bought one from Alexander Vido of Scytheworks.com and made a handle myself and started using it. I was hitting stones now and then and its edge was getting bent and again I couldn't achive cutting larger area. Please see my earlier post on this, which started around 3 years back.

http://farming-experiments.blogspot.in/2013/06/scythe-tool-for-cutting-grass.html

Then I bought one from CEC hyderabad and it had proper handle,grip, but blade and handle was both heavy. Blade was not getting effected even if I hit the stones, so used it to some extend again.

http://farming-experiments.blogspot.in/2014/11/scythe-from-cec-hyderabad.html

Then I bought 2 bush blades thinking that will do my purpose, but some how didn't get a feel of it. Alexander Vido of Scytheworks.com visited Kerala as part of making Scythe in India and attended a training given by him. I could really see the power of Scythe and realised, the grip made a lot of difference. He gave me a grip and a screw for it and I made a proper handle and fitted this grip. I am using this tool now very effectively, I get more control and able to manage without hitting stones.

I would say, anyone who is into natural farming should try this tool, it really makes your life easy. I am able to cut large areas and since all the cutting is done without bending, it is not tiring. Also I use the first blade which I bought from Alexander which is quite sharp and light, that makes the life easier. I am trying to make it popular in Kerala, and approached couple of magazines to write an article about this, they wanted Scythe to be available in India before publishing the article. Alexander Vido is working on this, will update soon when it is available.








Friday, January 1, 2016

Sabu Joseph - Karshakashree Award Winner - 2015

Karshakashree Award is given by Malayala Manorama daily once in 2 years for farmers who excel in farming. This year award goes to Sabu Joseph from Calicut. Here are some videos about him, it is in Malayalam ....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXuDniM2VIU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq7gML-qNfs

He has 7 acres of farm and cultivates more than 15 types of crops. Most of the work is done by he and his wife and occasionally takes help of one old worker. One interesting thing is , he is into full time farming and enjoys it completely and makes a decent income. He makes about 100000/- Indian rupees per month.These are his crops and income from different crops per year. He does complete organic farming.


Crop Income (Indian rupees) Details
Coconut 150000 250 trees
Arecanut 100000 250 trees
Banana 200000 Different varieties 1000 numbers
Nutmeg 600000 500 trees
Pepper 50000 150 numbers
Coffee 25000 1000 trees
Herbs - Thippali 12000

Tapioca 70000 500 numbers
Big honey bee 20000

Small honey bee 30000

Fruit trees

For own consumption
Fish

For own consumption
Vegetables

For own consumption
Total 1257000

Some of the translation from the videos..

He inherited 6.25 acres and bought another 0.75 acre and totally has 7 acres now. Originally from Pala, Kottayam and now has been at this place for 45 years now. He has been into farming since young age and he observes well and tries new things. Main crops are coconut and nutmeg. He has bees and does fish farming also. He is keen in water and soil conservation activities. Earlier it was coconut and arecanut and arecanut started getting diseases so he started nutmeg. He grows root vegetables.There are about 750 nutmeg trees and 500 are yielding. He got around 30 quintals of seeds and 6 quintals of jathipathri. During rainy season, water should not be stagnated so he has put drainage channel throughout the farm. There is a canal through the farm and coffee is cultivated at the banks of this. Coffee plants prevents soil erosion to the canal and yields well. Tapioca yields throughout the year, each plant gives around 15Kgs. There is a good collection of lemon, orange etc.

to be continued....









Saturday, December 5, 2015

Owning 0.5 acre and remaining poor at 35 years is your fault - Biju Patnaik

Read an article about a farmer called Shanmughan, who was inspired by Biju Patnaik's statement  "Owning 0.5 acre and remaining poor at 35 years is your fault". He is from Calicut and is around 70 years old now. In 1982, he had a shop in Calicut and it was looted twice and he went to Bombay to go to gulf country for a job. But he lost his passport and money and he was sitting near a lawn at Gate of India and came across a piece of paper in which this famous sentence of Biju Patnaik was written.

It influenced him so much since he was 35 years then and owned 0.505 acre of land. He came back to his native place and decided to give a try with agriculture. Right now he is around 70 and makes a decent living from income from farming, but his life style is very simple. He has wife and three daughters and has been living from income from farming. His monthly requirement of money is about 1000 rupees unless there is some medical expenses. He has around 40 coconut trees and harvests about 1300 coconuts. Vegetables are cultivated in between coconuts and has 10 nugmeg trees which gives around 35000 rupees per year.

Initially he needed help to complete the work, but after 3-4 years into agriculture, he is able to complete all the work by himself, but he does it step by step.

He says "God used to give me just enough for each day. With the kind of money the youngsters spend today for buying chappals, we can meet one month's expenses. Without much demands, living with income from farming, we are able to living happily".


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Banana Circle

First heard about Banana circle from Jagannath - The Natural Farmer who does permaculture style farming in Amrithapuri,Vallikkavu,Kerala. Please see the video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OByyRK8sA0E

It is about forming a 0.5 meter deep circular trench with 2 meter diameter and planting 5-6 bananas on the boundary of the circle. The trench will be mulched heavily and cowdung etc. can be applied here. Banana plants extend their roots to take manure and water from the trench.

Visited Jagannath some time back and he showed how rich humus forms in the trench which can not happen in the surface mulching so easily.

I am just trying Banana circle, planted 5 bananas and some 'chembu', cowpea etc..on the boundary. Here are some photos.


18-Nov-2015

With rain, banana is coming up good, cowpea has germinated and growing...



30-November-2015


Rains have receded...


27-December-2015



20-Jan-2016




Monday, November 9, 2015

Paddy farming 2015 - Season 2

North east monsoon was delayed and there was no rain in October. Road work was in progress and hence tractor couldn't enter farm for ploughing...finally it was all well delayed..Because of delayed monsoon, farmers are not having water for making seed bed ready and some are pumping water from wells, some has gone for direct seeding, some are not cultivating.

Ploughing was done with tractor with cage wheel attachment on November 6th. Around 6Kgs seeds were put in soaking on November 9th.




12-November-2015
Germinated seeds were put on the bed. Bed was created by spreading banana leaves and putting mud over it. Since nursery is done after puddling the field, the field will have to wait till the seedlings are ready, typically 10 days. By this time, grass starts to dominate...this has to be avoided, by raising nursery in a separate area.





18-Nov-2015

Rice has germinated and growing...many seeds haven't germinated, not sure why....



28-November-2015


Nursery looks good now..


Planting device for planting at 30 cm distance..personally planted in some area,,,it is much better than using a rope method.



another device...Thanks to Dr.Kathiresan Guruswamy for this device..I made this device using GI pipes..please see the video for the original device designed by Dr.Kathiresan Guruswamy..

https://www.facebook.com/kathiresan.gurusamy.1/videos/460652090740614/?pnref=story


30-November-2015

Transplanting completed...more or less line is kept using the device...



5-December-2015

Not flooding the field this time, following SRI guidelines...weeds have started coming...have to weed in another 2-3 days...walking is easy since there is enough space...weeding can be done using hand, just stirring the muddy soil..







8-December-2015

 Weeds are growing at full speed...started first weeding today..one woman labour and myself started it. I got a cono weeder from a friend and started using it. It looks to be a useful tool, even though some paddy plants were also affected during weeding, but could restore them...





13-December-2015

Allowed water after weeding, now will let it dry...some dry cowdung also was applied...




16-December-2015




23-December-2015





27-December-2015

Doing one more weeding using Cono-weeder since it will help in aeration..








30-December-2015

Cono weeding completed..

7-Jan-2016


13-Jan-2016





20-Jan-2016



26-Jan-2016


Started flowering....


30-Jan-2016



Bird perches put for birds to control pests.....