When and what to plant – Know the season

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WHEN AND WHAT TO PLANT

Understanding the need: What to plant and when? is one of the biggest challenges one faces when it comes to organic gardening. Growing organic is all about growing along with the nature so that the plants use the best of the resources and climatic conditions available during the season to grow and nurture plants. This reduces the efforts and costs incurred while still giving you best of the results.

In simple terms the climate prevailing in a climate zone has a direct impact on seed germination, growth and yield.

CROPPING SEASONS IN INDIA

India has many growing seasons due to prevalence of high temperature through a long period. The agricultural crop year in India is from July to June. The Indian cropping season is classified into two main seasons.

KharifOriginates from Arabic language where Kharif means autumn. Karif crops are sown at the beginning of the south-west monsoon and harvested at the end of the south-west monsoon.
Sowing seasons-May to July.
Harvesting season-September to October
Important crops: Jowar, bajra, rice, maize, cotton, groundnut, jute, hemp, sugarcane, tobacco, etc.

Rabi: Originates from Arabic language where Rabi means spring. Rabi crops need relatively cool climate during the period of growth but warm climate during the germination of their seed and maturation.
Sowing season-october-December
Harvesting season-February-April
Important crops: wheat, barley, gram, linseed, mustard, masoor, pea and potatoes.

Besides the kharif and rabi crops, there are certain crops which are being raised throughout the year due to artificial irrigation.

Zaid: Originates from Arabic language where Zaid means to prosper.
Zaid kharif crops are sown in Aug-Sept. Harvesting in Dec-Jan.
Important crops: rice, jowar, rapeseed, cotton, oilseeds.
Zaid rabi crops are sown in Feb-Mar. Harvesting is in Apr-May.
Important crops: watermelon, toris, cucumber, leafy and other vegetables.

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PLANNING YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN

Three things you need to be aware of when planning your vegetable garden.

  • Know your climate zone
  • Follow the planting calendar
  • Be aware of the conditions

Know your climate zone: Climate zones are generalised the fact that seasons can change quickly and may arrive early or late or not at all. We all know that we live in a high temperature zone through a long period. Hence choose the best plants for your area and the ideal sowing time.

The planting calendar: The planting calendar or sow chart below should help you in planning if you are in India.

Sowing Chart

Month North India South India
JANUARY Brinjal Lettuce,Spinach, Gourds, Melons, Radish, Carrot, Onion, Tomato,Okra,Brinjal, Bean
FEBRUARY Applegourd, Bittergourd, Bottle gourd, Cucumber, French Beans, Okra, Sponge, Gourd, Watermelon, Spinach Same as January
MARCH Same as February Amaranthus, Coriander, Gourds, Beans, Melons, Spinach, Okra
APRIL Capsicum Onion, Amaranthus, Coriander, Gourds, Okra, Tomato, Chilli
MAY Onion, Pepper, Brinjal Okra, Onion, Chilli
JUNE All gourds, Brinjal, Cucumber, Cauliflower (Early), Okra, Onion,Sem,Tomato,Pepper Gourds, Solanaeceae,Almost all vegetables
JULY All gourds, Cucumber, Okra, Sem, Tomato Same as June
AUGUST Carrot, Cauliflower, Radish, Tomato Carrot, Cauliflower, Beans, Beet
SEPTEMBER Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Peas, Radish, Tomato, Lettuce Cauliflower, Cucumber, Onion,Peas,Spinach
OCTOBER Beet, Brinjal, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Turnip Brinjal, Cabbage,Capsicum,Cucumber, Beans,Peas, Spinach, Turnip, Watermelon
NOVEMBER Turnip, Tomato, Radish, Pepper, Peas, Beet Beet, Eggplant, Cabbage, Carrot, Beans, Lettuce, Melon, Okra, Turnip
DECEMBER Tomato Lettuce, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Muskmelon, Ash gourd, Ridge gourd, Bitter gourd, Bottle gourd, Cucumber, Chilly, Cabbage,

Be aware of the conditions: What you grow also depends on the stretch of your growing season, the amount of sunlight your garden gets and the size of your planting space.  Having a lot of shade would limit the varieties you can grow where in sunny gardens will offer more alternatives.  Certain gardens only get enough sun at certain times of the year.  Hence be aware of the conditions and plan your garden to get access to enough sun and increase the variety of what you can grow. Remember agriculture is all about harvesting suns energy.

Our ancestors have made amazing discoveries by living along with the nature. Once such factor is the auspicious sowing during Amavasya. What we think as an auspicious factor is indeed scientific this is known as farming by moon or simply the moon calendar. Will write about this in detail in my next blog.

I believe my post was useful. Feel free to share your comments

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Your purchase contributions go towards nurturing the plants

 
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Sowing your seeds

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The Joy of growing plants from Seeds – Sowing seeds

Now that we have learnt the basics lets get to the real activities one by one.

Preparing the soil  to sow the seeds: If you are sowing your seed in ground ensure the soil is well loosened to a depth of few inches. We all know this method its called ploughing. Why is this done? It is to ensure the early roots from a budding sprout is getting its way easier through the soil. Ensure to clear any kind of large rocky structure. This method is already done in a pot by preparing our well loosened potting mix. The sandwich layering method further enables the roots to spread and grow better.

Coming back once you have loosened your soil water the soil evenly. Ensure the soil is moist not soaked. Remember this initial watering is set the base for the seeds first growing condition.

Next is the distance between each seed. Remember just like us the plants and their roots need space to grow and branch out. As we had learnt earlier the primary source of food for plants comes from the leaves and the raw materials from the roots. A healthy plant with a well branched both above and beneath the soil will give you a decent yield. So plan the space between each plant from seedling stage.

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In urban pot gardening with the lack of space we would like to grow more in less space hence an even more careful  planning is required while sowing seeds. Visualize your plants when they grow up a 9×9 growbag would be ideal for a sapling but not be ideal for a larger plant. Hence if you do not plan to transplant a sapling I would recommend a standard 12″X12″ growbag.

Dont over crowd the growbag even if it is a larger one, remember plants do need their space. May be the example table below should help.

Plant No of plants/ 12″X12″ growbag
Chilli, Okra, brinjal, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, snake gourd, sword bean etc Not more than one per pot.
radish, carrot, beet not more than 5 per pot
cowpea, broad bean both creeper and shrub, beans, other small creepers 2 per pot
Greens, coriander etc  30 seeds/ enough for 2 harvests

if planting a single seed ensure it is in the middle or if you plan to use a ollas watering system ensure the seeds is at least 3 inches away from the edge of the pot. In case of multiple seeds other than greens give a space of minimum 3 inches and in case of greens give a space of minimum 1 inch away from the end of the pot/ growbag.

Depth the seed should be sown in is always a debatable question. Remember a seed normally should be sown twice the depth of the longest part of the seed however the maximum depth should not exceed more than an inch. Example a normal okra seed is almost round in shape and is around 4 to 5 mm  in its longest part so it needs to sown at a depth of 10 mm which is less than 1/2 an inch deep, but when it comes to seeds such as bottle gourd, sword bean are longer in length and the 1 inch rule should be applied to these seeds. Remember when the sprouts start they need to push through the soil to peep out and too much of depth may make keep them in the grave for ever.

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When it comes to micro seeds such as the greens/ coriander just sprinkle the seeds and cover them mildly with few couple of mm of soil. Gardeners used to mix these seeds with river sand or potting mix and sprinkle them which does the magic of even spread and top coverage in one go.

Once watered cover the pots with a news paper and keep watering mildly once a day even in summer on top of the paper. The news paper acts as a mulch and also improves the humid condition required for the seed to sprout. For ground garden a mulch may be used but it is not really important.

When all things go well you should witness your seeds sprouting from day 3. However there is also a season for every plant, a grow period and sowing time for each seeds. Now that’s a different topic all together we will discuss that in the coming days.

Until than Happy gardening.

Warm regards

Crazy Gardener

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Preparing your pot/ grow bag or garden bed – Part2 – The Sandwich Soil layering method

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Preparing your pot/ grow bag or garden bed – Part2 – The Sandwich Soil layering method

In my previous blog I had shared the knowledge base on soil layers. Natures design is unique and replicating the same format in our pots/ grow bags is not really necessary. However we can take the tip from nature and create a sustainable soil layer which can withstand heat and retain water and fertilizer.

For this article purpose I am going to take the example of a setting up a standard 12″x 12″ HDPE grow bag.

Materials needed:

  • Large gravels from the seving process while preparing your potting mix.
  • A bit of river sand (cocopeat in case of no river sand)
  • Neem oil cake
  • Horticultural Charcoal broken to small pieces or self prepared Bio Charcoal

Now you are wondering what? Charcoal now where did this come from and what is this Bio Charcoal? I know I can read your mind… 🙂

Charcoal use in garden: Charcoal helps in raising the PH level of the soil, improves the air circulation and helps the soil to retain water and nutrients. This continues for years making the soil rich and full of micro organisms. Do not use the charcoal used for barbeque as they may contain chemicals use the normal ones available in local stores. You can also check with your local ironing person (if they still uses charcoal) where they gets it from.

Bio Charcoal: Its nothing but the charcoal which you can prepare by burning your garden dry waste including the weeds. Just ensure the seeds and any pests are completely burned and nothing but deep color smoke is coming out. Allow it to cool and you have your own Bio Charcoal.

Coming back the layering method is pretty simple. Picture is self made so kindly excuse 🙂

Lets go bottoms up 🙂

5. Cover the bottom 2 inch layer with the gravels you had retained earlier.

4. Now layer the next one inch with a mix of river sand/ coco peat, your potting mix and neem oil cake (You might wonder why we are adding neem oil cake now as we already added it during the preparation). Well this is to ensure no soil pests thrive even deep inside the soil.

3. Now cover this with one and half inch of charcoal or bio charcoal. Ensure to break the charcoal to small pieces.

2. Top it up with 1/2 an inch of river sand.

Now that we have setup 5 inch of layering we are left with another 7 inch space.

1. Fill the rest of the 6 inches with your potting mix and and plant or sow your seed.

0. Remember the thumb rule, always leave and empty space a thumb measure from above the top of the pot/ grow bag bare minimum an inch. This helps in when you water your plants

The above mentioned is the sandwich soil layering method I am following. Have learnt this from expert gardeners and after multiple R&D have freezed on this method. While they say that the soil would hold good for upto 4 years with this method, many of my pots are already 2 years old and the plants are really doing well. All you need to do is just top up the soil with required nutrients at required time.

Try it out, hope this helps. Next would enter to the core topics soon… Until then happy gardening.

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