December 26, 2013

How to Prepare the Ground for Sowing Seeds/Planting

To prepare the ground for gardening, you'll have to get rid of weeds, till (as in dig) the ground and remove stones, plastics etc. and finally manure the soil.
  • The first and obvious step is to remove weeds.  But there is often a conflict about exactly what kind of plants constitute weeds. So, I'll use the often used gardening quote to describe it. 
"Any plant out of place is a weed"
  • This means, a Tulsai plant in your tomato bed is a weed; or if it is co-habituating with your potted rose, either the tulsai or the rose is a weed.
  • When you hire someone to do the weeding for you, they merely use a spade to chop it off ground up. This is not going to help in the long run. Because, when you manure your plants, you end up manuring the weeds as well. They happily lap up the nourishment and flourish better than your plants. To avoid this, take the time to remove them from the root level. 
  • To remove weeds from a totally neglected gardening space, thoroughly water the grounds twice a day for 3-4 days. This will loosen the soil and make your job easier. 
Tilling and Manuring
The purpose of tilling is not just to loosen up the soil but also to help you free the soil of plastics, stones and other material that might hinder the healthy growth of your plants. For optimum results, dig and loosen 8" to 10" of soil. Break and level clumps. This and the leaf manure you add along with the manure will allow water to sink in rather than run.

After weeding your garden, water it thoroughly once or twice a day. Use your discretion to decide how many times you need to water it. This will encourage weed growth. Once again remove it from the root level. Your ground is now ready for some serious manuring.

For a 10' x 10' Plot, You'll Need
Dried leaves/vegetable compost - 2-3 bags
Dried cowdung - 2 bags
Red soil - 2 bags
Sand - 1 bag
Super Phosphate or bone meal - 1 Kg
Neem cake - 3 Kg
Mix these together to ensure even distribution. Spread the mixture on your plot and mix it into the soil with a spade or a hoe.

Cowdung, as I've explained in a previous article has the ingredients needed to encourage healthy flowers and fruits.
Super Phosphate and bone meal are excellent sources of calcium. They improve the texture of the soil and act chemically on the manure you add to the soil enabling plants to better absorb nutrients.

Seeds can be sown either in seed pans and then transplanted or directly into the soil. Very fine seeds (as in கீரை விதை - greens) should be mixed with fine sand for even distribution. Some seeds are very light in weight and tend to fly away. Mixing with sand before sowing and covering the area with moist leaf manure prevents this. If you plan to use a seed pan, use 1 part sieved leaf manure and 1 part sand as your sowing media.

Plants need at least 8" - 10" of private space.  So, if you are sowing seeds directly into the ground, take this into account.

How Deep Should You Sow?
The depth of sowing should be about 3 times the diameter of the seed.

Other Gardening Tips:
  1. The best location for your kitchen garden is a sunny spot with restricted access to outsiders.
  2. While plants in general add a lot of warmth and joy, flowering plants endow a positive ambience to space they grace. I frequently remember the story of how flowers served to reiterate Solomon's wisdom.

December 24, 2013

Happy 2014

I'd love to wish all of you a trouble free 2014. But I know that's unrealistic.  So, I'll wish you a 2014 filled with patience, forbearance and wisdom to help you deal with whatever life throws at you. That way you'll have a truly wonderful 2014 anyway.