Sunday, November 15, 1998
DO soaring vegetable prices inspire you to do something about them? You must have vowed to grow some in your backyard and have, perhaps, already started. Growing vegetables on your own will give you pleasure besides helping you to economise. Freshness and nutrition are intact. Each piece of vegetable that grows in your garden should be excellent. How can you achieve that?
Besides garden pests, there are other factors which, when taken care of, make all the difference. Unlike in summer, there is a wide range of winter vegetables radish, turnip, carrot, potato, cauliflower, cabbage, beet-root (chukandar), Knol-khol (Bandh-gobhi), dhania, pudina etc. besides exotic types like broccolli, brussel sprouts, lettuce, celery, leek, and asparagus.
Cultural and agronomic practices make a lot of difference. The general impression is that a liberal use of water will increase the output. But in certain crops it causes more harm than good. For example, peas do not need much watering. They hardly need three watering throughout the life of the crop or else there is rotting of the roots. Root crops like radish, turnip and beetroot need light watering and should preferably be grown on ridges.
Watering between ridges reduces the incidence of leaf diseases and rotting of fruit due to contact with water. This also does not mean that these crops should be subjected to a water stress. Such conditions at the development stage adversely effect the size, quality and weight of the fruit. The roots of radish, turnip and carrot become rough bitter and uneven. At the same time, heavy and excessive watering leads to forked and mis-shapen roots. Carrots, in comparison, should be given less water. Heavily watered carrots, planted in plain beds, and at less distance give excessive leaves, become hairy and the root quality suffers.
Irregular watering or flooding after excessive drying may cause the splitting of the cabbage heads and onions. Pudina flourishes well near a water source. Pudina, dhania and lettuce could be sown on the ridges between two beds. This way you will be able to save space.
Farmyard manure is indispensable. Its application in case of vegetables should be a few days before sowing. Use of fresh farmyard manure leads to formation of rough and branched roots. For the improvement in quality of carrots and to get long, cylinderical roots, use of potash is beneficial. Among various types of gobhi the cauliflower is more demanding than knol-khol which otherwise becomes hard and loses tenderness. Cauliflower is prized for its hard curd (edible portion) and its snow white colour. But does the one in your garden turn yellow and dull?
Cauliflower grown in exposed conditions may show the effect of being exposed to the sun and turn yellow. Pluck one of its own leaf and cover the curd with it. You can also do it by bending one of its own leaf on it. You will get a sparkling white flower.
A proper distance should
be maintained between rows and plants. Brinjal and tomato
when grown close, reach a height. For want of light, they
tend to get overcrowded. Do not always think that
vegetable growing is a dull hobby. It has an ornamental
aspect too. Grow ornamental tomatoes (cherry tomatoes) in
a basket and then see for yourself. Since it is a weak
vine, the tomato will hang down and you could use the
same basket to grow a matching winter annual.
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