Basil, carrot, chillies, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mint, pumpkin, tomato, turmeric – check! My confidence swelling with each baby step in experimentation with growing my own vegetables in our 8 ft x 1 ft box grilled window space, I decided to raise the bar a notch higher – exotic cultivars which are quite fussy about victuals and easily prone to infestation.
Thus in December I commenced a trial run with red and yellow capsicum. Salvaging seeds from store-bought organic fruit, I planted six seeds of each variety which ultimately gave me two viable saplings of red and a single one of the yellow. Though all three plants grew up at visually the same rate, each was supplemented with a different type of nutrient source – one with neem cake powder, one with vermicompost, and one with Jeevamrut (a filtered fermented concoction of cow dung, cow urine, gram flour, jaggery, handful of soil for bacterial inoculation, and water). All three plants flowered almost simultaneously in 12 weeks’ time from the date of sowing and were hand pollinated. One of the reds was first off the block and we plucked the first ripe fruit 7 weeks after pollination.
Three stages of ripening of the first born red capsicum have been captured on video and posted on Instagram at:
Pest infestation was effectively managed during the entire 19 weeks with a fortnightly alternate spraying of Jeevamrut, and a homemade 5% solution of liquid soap, Dettol disinfectant and cooking oil. Once I complete my study of the growth pattern, and after tasting the fruit from each plant, I will be able to assess the nutrient source best suited for these cultivars.
So summing it up – from my learnings thus far – while growing your own food is thoroughly gratifying, it is enlightening too. In addition to the intricacies of gardening you also learn humility, patience and respect for the forces of nature. There is no one solution that works to fulfill the needs of nutrition and care across the wide variety of crops. Like you and me, all plants are individual in character and have typical demands depending upon their species and variety, light, weather, ambience, soil characteristics, macro and micro nutrient needs, resistance to pests and US!
Yes, us. Because it is we who have to observe – watch for signs that the plants display so candidly, whether in distress or in contentment – and join in the celebration of their life. It may sound a tall ask from afar, but once you decide to embrace Mother Nature, you will find her a teacher most willing – she holds no secrets, but only if you seek then you shall know!
– Narendra Nayak © 2022