Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pesky Bugs and Critters

Firstly, we'd like to thank Bhavnaben from Ahmedabad for directing our attention to the plant disease and disorders. 

Every gardener has to deal with common diseases or infestations, and although you can get good info off the net, its not always easy to diagnose the plants and treat them by yourself. So this week, we're going test out some ideas, on various plants. Lets start with tomatoes.

First, prevention is better than cure, so always do a thorough check of your plant and if it is looking unhappy, try to identify what part of the plant is affected:
If you see something odd or abnormal, act fast!!.

IMAGE CREDITS: ohioline.osu.edu

1} Verticillium/Fusarium wilt: this is a fungus disease/infection which is most of the times fatal…watch out for:

   Leaves are suddenly turning yellow, withering, and dropping off
, and even though you are regularly watering, they look like they are water deprived.
   Plant is surviving, but is stunted and yield is reduced
 to almost no tomatoes!
 start to look brown

What you can do: try to buy these fungicides: Trichoderma Vanguard, Phosguard, Captan 50WP, Elevate 50WDG, use them according to instructions on the labels and don’t over water.

Also, plant hybrid, resistant varieties. Do not grow tomatoes in that same soil for 2-3 years. If possible, try to add neem based manure to the potting soil.

Bacterial Spots: This is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas. It looks exactly like Bacterial speck -which is caused by Pseudomonas syringae bacteria. The only difference is speck is curable- and your plant wont die, whereas spot usually kills the plant.

Watch out for:
Small ugly black spots (up to a slightly greasy feel1⁄8 inch across), circular to irregular in shape on fruit, and even on leaves

 Image credit: omfra.gov.on.ca

What you can do:
Do not wet the tomato plant, only water the soil…too much humidity and plants grown too close together encourages this problem

Keep area weed free, and apply mancozeb (available at most agri stores) to soil before planting saplings as a just in case…

If you end up with spot, apply spray of streptocyclin as soon as possible.


Aphids. These little white speck like insects suck sap. They eat the tomato leaves and stems, which weaken plants and allow disease to spread. Control them by applying insecticidal soap or insecticide.

Mealy bugs:

White bugs on stem and leaves of tomato plant, with a waxy coating. Rub the white stuff with cotton dipped in alcohol, and then spray with insecticidal soap or set black ants (makodi) on the plant…they can eat the mealy bugs!

If the infestation is too heavy, you may have to add soap to solution of cloropyriphos or chinni kam and spray…

Image Credit: homelycapers.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Growing Your Own Lettuce

Interested in growing some organic lettuce?

Here's how to go about it:

There's 4 types of lettuce: Cos varieties, Butterheads, loose leaf and crisp heads. Iceberg, which is a crisphead is one of the most commonly available one here available here.

Step 1: Prepare a raised bed or crate or wide and atleast 1 foot container, and fill it with 40% fully washed cocopeat and 60% Sunrich organic manure (or fine compost). If you are not using cocopeat, instead using soil, make sure the soil is humus rich and free draining, ideally with ph 6.5. If you are planting right now, remember lettuce does not tolerate too much heat or rain, so best to provide it partial shade and shelter from rains when planting new plants/seeds.

Step 2: If you are growing from seed, make rows 12" apart, and sow the seed at 1/2 inch depth. If growing ready plug plants from trays, just sow them in rows 12" apart, keeping 4-6" distance between plants. Keep crow above soil, and water well.

Step 3: Lettuce like cool weather and lots of moisture. Water well everyday, and provide Sun Khanij Bhandar or any other micronutient as well as all purpose organic fertilizer. Do nothing more!

Step 4: Bolting is when lettuce starts producing long stalk like flowers.After flowering, the leaves will become rubbery and bitter, so you need to pick all leaves/head before this. 

In case of crisp head varieties like iceberg, harvest the head after 8 weeks of planting the plug plants, and for loose leaf varieties, start picking from the 6th week.

 Companion crops for lettuce are Dill, Garlic and Beetroot, which keep pests away and impart flavour to the leaves. Lettuce can be planted with cucumber, spring onions and broccoli. 

Lettuce plug plants are available from Sun Agrigenetics. Just call (0) 787 406 5060 to place an order.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gardening is fun in the rains- everything seems to grow faster and healthier due to the humidity and distilled water courtesy of Mother Nature.

Many plants start growing vegetatively, instead of producing fruit/veg. However, here's a brilliant post on how to use other parts of a fruit and veg:
Global Underground eats-shoots-and-leaves!
To this, we'd like to add a few more ideas:

Pea Shoot stir fry! 

Drumstick leaves are rich in vitamins and iron...use them in soups, shak and add to chapati or paratha dough.

White part of watermelon (inside rind) can be used to make soups or vegetable stock

Leaves of Tindora (Ghiloda or Tondli) can be used in soup or a fresh juices and has great anti diabetic power.

For amazing videos and urban green living ideas, go to Global Underground
  This is an online magazine for sustainable living, and is run by Nicole Hays.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Superb Kitchen Garden Blogs

We’ve been busy this week, as we participated in the Biotechnology Interest Group Meeting (BIG) in FGI this Thursday. BIG is a NGO was set up in 1998 for the promotion of biotech industries. Their objective is to promote the development and growth of biotechnology industries in Gujarat and it does this by organizing a range of activities like seminars and interactive discussions among the academicians and industrialists. We hope they’ll organise some free to attend seminars for budding bio-techies in Gujarat soon.

Meanwhile, we’d like to mention some superb blogs for Indian gardeners:


This one is my personal fav. This weeks’ post was on Bok Choy, and I’m happy to second everything mentioned there…Bok Choy is a delicious healthy salad leaf, and it tastes well in Chinese stir-fries and dim sum. Here it is in our terrace garden plantation from last year:

Another brilliant blog:


This is a serious blog of serious note…for anyone who wants to make a living off agriculture but is trying for the first time. This week, they’ve put up a very useful checklist of things to watch for when buying agriculture land.

A fun picture blog:


This is an informal photo blog with pictures of the author’s garden, birds and animals, places to see. A recent post mentions some gorgeous flowers that can be grown in India.

Other Indian blogs of note:





Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Preparing For The Rains

It’s been a while since we’ve posted: that’s because we’ve been busy WATERPROOFING our terrace

This blog post is going to help you prepare for the rains. Here’s a handy list of things to keep in mind before the heavens open:

1)   For container plants, now would be a good time to aerate them. Loosen up and dig out the soil around the plant and add a handful of organic manure, then replace the soil. This is because when it rains, the rain will clog the air channels in the soil and will get thick and heavy around the roots. Also, rains will likely carry away some of the topsoil and important nutrients. Also remember to unclog the drain holes at the bottom or sides of containers.

2)   If you have a terrace garden, ensure you call a professional and service your drains, as well as the rainwater drainage in the terrace. This is especially important if you have any L shaped pipes. Always avoid having L shaped storm water drain pipes- they clog real easy.

3)   Waterproofing is a very important element to rooftop gardens. Waterproofing requires you call an architect or a special “kadiya”. Don’t just hire labour and slap on some cement mixed with water proofing powder.

4)   Small plants and rock garden plants such as cactus, and succulent plants do not like excessive rain. Try erecting a temporary shelter over them with a glass plane and some bricks, keeping the slope away from the plants.

5)   Its time to start rainwater harvesting! Rain is the best kind of water source for plants because it contains nitrates (especially after a thunderstorm), microbes, and is an ideal pH. Unlike tap water, it is free from chlorides and fluorides.

6)   Excessive rain or harsh rain with wind is bad for kitchen garden plants. If you have sticky clay type of soil that creates “kichhad”, it could become water logged in the rain. You may need to add a sandy layer to it. You may also have to erect cloches.  Tomato plants turn yellow with excess rain, and chilli plants are affected by a variety of diseases due to excess water logging. Plants such as broccoli and strawberry rot with excess rain. Remember, too much of a good thing is never good.

7)   If you see frogs, toads or earthworms crawling in your soil, don’t scream in terror and start killing them- they are just coming up for air. Earthworms are a gardener’s best friends: they help keep soil loose and aerated, and help breakdown organic manure to create plant food. Froggies and toads will eat all your insects and pests.


8)   Insects and sucking pests are bad for gardens, and very prolific in the rains. You will need a good pesticide and fungicide spray for your  plants such as Chinni Kam and Bavistin respectively. Read instructions on the bottles carefully and use accordingly.

   9)   Do you have a fountain or a water body in your garden? You will notice a lot of wriggly tiny black creatures- these are mosquito and insect larvae. The best way to get rid of them is to add wild Guppies and Gambusia, which are mosquito eating fish.

10) Now is the best time to grow herbs like Mint, Coriander and Chives. Just make sure they stay well drained.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Foliar fertilization

Foliar fertilization is the application via spraying of nutrients to plant leaves and stems. Foliar feeding has been used as a means of supplying supplemental doses of minor and major nutrients, plant hormones and other beneficial substances.

High concentrated sprays have potential to burn the foliage

Spray solution should be in near neutral range (6.5-7.5).

Increase pH: baking soda
Decrease pH: lime, vinegar, tamarind

Always delay foliar fertilization until air temperature drops to 26°C (80°F) or below as absorption at higher temperature is very poor because plant stomata are closed.

Otherwise, the feeding can be done in the evening or early in the morning. Absorption is further enhanced when weather conditions are humid and moist. The presence of heavy dew on the leaves facilitates foliar feeding. Addition of surfactant to solution decreases surface tension on the leaf and may increase absorption. (Note: possible chemical interactions should be considered).

Foliar nutrition is not prime method of feeding the plants and hence should not be used as substitute of soil application. Instead, it should be used to correct the nutrient deficiencies, pest resistance.

Monday, April 4, 2011


FREE tomato and chilly plug plants for the residents of Vadodara and other accessible areas....Sponsored by Sun Agrigenetics in Vadodara

If you want some, add your email in the comment, and we'll give you directions to their farm near Umeta Chokdi 

Thursday, March 24, 2011


A short while ago, we came across a fantastic website www.ghorganics.com which is a Colorado based company promoting the organic cause.  Here is an excerpt from the information on their site, plus a few additions from us.
Intercropping, companion planting or symbiotic planting are all techniques of growing different plants together or in succession, to deliver best results. Here is another good resource with loads of info:  www.organicgardeninfo.com/intercropping.html.

Some common intercrops or companion plants are listed below and can help promote growth, fruit taste or quality and protect against diseases. (Does not eliminate need for pesticide or weeding though)
Holy Basil (Tulsi): Grow with Tomato’s, Capsicum, Oregano, Asparagus and Petunias. Basil is helpful in repelling thrips, flies and mosquitoes.
Bay leaf (Tamalpatra): With Beans.  We Gujaratis have been putting tad patti or tamalpatra in each storage container of beans or grains to deter pests since kingdom come.
Beans:  With Carrots, Corn, Brinjal, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Wheat and other grains. All beans enrich the soil with nitrogen fixed form the air, improving the conditions for whatever crop you plant after the beans are finished.  Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users like corn and grain plants because the nitrogen used up by the corn and grains are replaced at the end of the season when the bean plants die back. Besides, remember the nursery rhyme we sang as kids? 
Beans Beans
Good for your heart
The more you eat
The more you fart
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Hehe

Beetroot:  With Lettuce, Onion, Cabbage, Good for fixing magnesium in soil, and that in turn helps plant take up nitrogen. Companions for beets are lettuce, onions and cabbage, cauliflower. Grow beets alongside garlic.
Chamomile, Mint, and Dill: plant with brassica like Cabbage and Cauliflower. Do not plant near tomato and chilly.
Broccoli: Mint, Garlic, Dill and Marigolds and Methi
Coriander: Potato
Garlic: Roses, Cucumber, Pea, Tomato, Carrot …almost anything!  It’s a great natural fungicide that is high in sulphur content.

Do let us know if you have anymore suggestions...email us at greenbay1999@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Curtains From A Lovely Country

It is a dark time for the human race. We here at Greenbay want to express our grief and sadness of recent tragedies in New Zealand and now Japan. Some of the best things come from Japan- Bonsai trees, ukiyo-e, and Nintendo wii. It is unfair that such terrible things happen to such good people. Our prayers are with them.
 Here’s an example of the fantastic creativity and environmental consciousness of Japan: Green walls at Kyocera Corporation, a leading company of Japan that produces a range of things from solar power energy solutions to kitchen appliances.
Image taken from the Kyocera Corporation Website

 The company website has very interesting information on how to build a green curtain and provides first hand information on how much it can cool your home! They have grown Karela (bitter gourd) on a wire mesh and trained it up the building walls. 
Just Imagine:  if we all do this for our homes in our city, how much relief we would have from the heat…
1) Building a mandvo is the traditional Gujarati way of growing creepers or vine vegetables like Karela , Parval and Tindora.  If you want to do in at your home, but don’t have a big enough backyard, you can do it on the terrace. Just remember, these plants require full sun and long days. Do not plant them in a shady place such as under a tree.

 2) For terrace gardens, install angles on the sidewalls of the terrace to support GI wire mesh structure from all corners at the top. Plant seeds in a seed tray or pot, or get seedlings (dharu) from a nursery (Go to Baroda Roses Nursery in Sama or Tropical Horticultural Service in Gotri for Speedy Dharuรค Seedlings)
3) Plant the vegi plants ideally around Jan-Feb as it starts getting warm and throughout monsoon to early fall.  Fill a pot with mixture of mud, organic manure or vermicompost  and cocopeat. Plant the seedling preferably during late evening to give enough time for it to stabilize before the harsh rays of sun. Water well.
After a few days give it a good dose of micronutrient and liquid chemical fertilizer like Sunpurna. You won’t need to use these again for a while- ideally, use micronutrients only twice a year, and chemical fertilizers very sparingly may be every month.
4) As the plant grows, trail it with a string and help it climb up towards the mesh. As the plant grows it will cover the entire ceiling.
5) Move plant into a bigger pot as it grows, or it will get pot bound. You can get big cement pots (15cm diameter) or use plastic drum or barrels. These are available from factories in Gorwa and some times offices throw them away. Be creative in your container search. If you can’t find anything, nick your neighbour’s.
6) Water once a day during morning or evening for pots, and once a week for soil beds. These plants like warm and humid atmosphere, but well drained soil.  Dig up soil to aerate it once every 2 weeks. Use “Chinni Kam” or a herbal neem based pesticide if you see any signs of trouble.
7) Parval and Tindora produce vegis almost all year round.  Parval goes dormant in winter, and starts shedding its leaves. Don’t panic. Water it less frequently in winter and give it lots of water-soluble nutrients.
 8) Start picking the vegetable 2 weeks from first vegetable appearing, and then pick them once a week.
 9) If the plants starts flowering, but is not developing any vegetable, be sure to use Sunzyme or a similar plant growth hormone. Another reason for no Parval could be that the male plant has not pollinated the female flowers- you need move them closer and pray. Ideally you should have 1 male plant to every 9 female plants. For other plants like Karela and Tindora, you don’t have too worry, all flowers will turn into fruit!
 10) Enjoy your home-grown vegetable in 2 to 5 months from planting. Karela is a powerful aniviral, antimalarial and anticancer food- it’s so good for you, that’s why its bitter. Parval is good for digestion disorders, strengthens eyes and is great for immunity. Tindora is a powerful anti diabetic food. Both have been recently found to have Cholesterol reducing property and they taste good in curries as well.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"NPK- The big three" FAQs

1)    What is NPK? All plants, any species in the world, needs 4 major elements for its survival, growth and reproduction -Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) and Carbon (C). The first 3 are coined as NPK available as chemical fertilizer and carbon is generally available from organic manures.

2)    Great, where do I get it? Your plant will get these normally from soil and manures. However, they need to be broken down into forms that can be absorbed so the plants can use them. Our invisible friends such as bacteria and visible wriggly friends such as earthworms do this. Think twice before you chuck out the hardworking critters.

3) What does Nitrogen do?
  • Nitrogen is a part of all living cells and is a necessary part of all proteins, enzymes and metabolic processes involved in the synthesis and transfer of energy.
  • Nitrogen is a part of chlorophyll, the green pigment of the plant that is responsible for photosynthesis. 
  • Helps plants with rapid growth, increasing seed and fruit production and improving the quality of leaf and forage crops. 

4)    What does Phosphorus do?

  • Like nitrogen, phosphorus (P) is an essential part of the process of photosynthesis. 
  • Involved in the formation of all oils, sugars, starches, etc.
  • Helps with the transformation of solar energy into chemical energy; proper plant maturation; withstanding stress.
  • Effects rapid growth.
  • Encourages blooming and root growth.

5)    Why Potassium?
  • Plants absorb potassium in larger amounts than any other mineral element except nitrogen and, in some cases, calcium. 
  • Helps in the building of protein, photosynthesis, fruit quality and reduction of diseases.

6)    So do I need to add a chemical fertilizer containing NPK to my soil?
Yes and no.  Often a cause of debate (chemical fertilizer production causes pollution and harms the environment in some cases) NPK formulations have been used since as far back as 1800’s. Farmers and commercial growers swear by it, because these fertilizers are fast acting and absorbed by the plant very quickly. They also need to be used in smaller quantities for same result as organic manure- because they are concentrated.

7)    Are chemical fertilizers more expensive? Of course! But you do get more bang for your buck…

8)    Are they all I need? No. Fertilizers containing NPK, contain just that. They are the basic plant food, but not the complete set of nutrition. Plants still need micronutrients, other macro elements like Carbon, Sulphur, Calcium, and Magnesium etc.

9)    So should I stick to organic manure? Sure. But if you have very old pots with soil in them, or you have moved into a newly built plot with no garden, just bare empty soil in your backyard, the soil will need to be replenished. Use a combination of NPK, which will give a quick boost of nutrients to your plant along with organic/farmyard manures or compost, which will release smaller amounts of nutrition over longer period of time.

10) Have you got a drip irrigation system? Water-soluble NPK formulations will work great with your drip system and because they are absorbed quickly, and dispersed more accurately than flooding the bed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


We asked Dr. Santhan of naturalremedy.com about his views on kitchen gardening in general. Here's what he has to say:

"Kitchen gardening is good hobby and can be done around the house or even on the terrace.  Mushroom can also be cultivated at home by getting spawn from near by agri universities/science universities. Bhendi, chillies, brinjal, drumstick, herbs like mint and coriander can easily be grown in containers or shallow beds.

Also bitter-gourd, bottle guard, papaya, radish, cow pea etc can be grown at home and eaten as fresh vegetables.  Greens and culinary herbs from home can be grown in pots or bases of plastic drums! Anything can be reused. Soil, sand and farm yard manure should be mixed in equal proportion and filled in it and planted. All the care you need is regular watering and weeding. Good sunlight should be available to the plants. In a short while, we can relish the taste of our efforts."

Write to Dr Santhan about growing medicinal plants at: santhan_herbal<at the rate>yahoo.co.in

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What are Micro Nutrients?

Each flowering plant requires minor elements or micronutrients besides the chemical or organic fertilizers. These micronutrients help the plant in many ways, such as give more numbers of flowers, larger flower size and good luster of the petals.

The above diagram shows symptoms associated with deficiency (shortage) of each micronutrient  in the plant. If your plant has any micronutrient deficiencies, it will warn you by showing these symptoms on the leaves and will eventually affect the plant in serious ways.

Micronutrients are usually in a liquid from, or sometimes mixed with a fertilizer -and is mixture of seven essential micronutrients necessary for growth of plants. Some of these are explained below:

Manganese- Functions with enzyme systems in the plant which are involved in breakdown of carbohydrates, and nitrogen metabolism. 

Iron- Essential for formation of chlorophyll.

Zinc- Regulates the consumption of sugar in the plant (sugar=energy!)

Boron- Aids production of sugar and carbohydrates
Copper- Important for reproduction of plant- ie fruit and flowers
Molybdenum- Helps the plant capture nitrogen

There are several micronutrient brands out there such as Garden Green by Ranker Agro,  Neepaj, Devimicroshakti, Sun Khanij Bhandar  etc. 

We like Sun Khanij Bhandar becuase it comes in small packaging! This unique formulation is available in liquid and granular form. Liquid Sun Khanij Bhandar is useful for soil application as well as foliar spray, whereas granules are used in soil application only. How to use it:

Sun Khanij Bhandar Liquid can be used as soil application or as foliar spray. When using as foliar spray, use either early in the morning or late in the evening.

Field Application if you have a big farm house:
6-10 liters of Sun Khanij Bhandar can be applied per acre. For soil application dilute the same with appropriate quantity of water and is applied either as flood irrigation or in drip. Apply twice, once as pre-planting dose and second prior to flowering.

Garden Application:
It is used as foliar spray. Add 45 ml in 15 liter of water and spray on the potted plants.

Field Application:
Sun Khanij Bhandar micronutrient granules are meant for soil application. You can use about 30 Kg per acre. Apply twice, first during pre-planting in field and second time prior to flowering.

Garden Application:
Use about 5 g of granule per 12 inch size potted plant, no more than twice a year.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simply pluck it, cook it, and relish it!

Grow your own organic vegetables
Simply pluck it, cook it, and relish it!

Imagine cooking a vegetable immediately after plucking it from the plant! It may sound like a dream. There are several easy ways to make your dream come true! There are many companies such as Sun Agrigenetics in Vadodara, that provide consultancy on how to go about it, and provide plants such as Parwal, Tindora, Chilly, Brinjal, Tomato, etc and even fruit trees such as Banana, Papaya, Lemon etc.

If you have a garden area, an open backyard or side space, that's perfect. If not, you can still grow vegetables in pots kept in the balcony or terrace. Says Dr. Prashant Bhatt, Managing Director of Sun Agrigenetics, "Any vegetable with shallow root system viz; onion, tomato, brinjal, potato, cabbage, chilly, cauliflower, garlic, coriander, etc. can be grown on a terrace with  even a minimal space of 10’ x 10’ x 0.5’. All you need to a raised bed and coco peat layering".
Emphasizing the advantages of organic kitchen gardening, Dr. Bhatt says, “You plant a good seed, provide organic manure and kitchen waste and water – that’s all. No fertilizer, no poisonous insecticide, fungicides, viricides, bactericides, or weed killer”. The kitchen garden can produce ample amount of fruits and vegetables to feed whole family.

            The company provided handy Easy Gardening Kits with free plants at the Horticulture Exhibition held at the Model Farm, Genda Circle on 12-13-14Feb in Vadodara. "The kits were a great success, and we hope people will try growing their own food" said a smiling Dr. Bhatt. We tend to agree with him. Watching your food grow makes you appreciate it even more. Anyone out there with a story to share? Just write in to us, and we'll feature your garden.

Acid Limes FAQS

1) Lemon trees are short and prickly, but give a nice shade and aroma to the garden. You can  plant some varieties only in the ground- such as acid lime (the common lemon we use in everyday cooking); Acid limes do not work in containers. Being prickly, they can be grown next to compound walls to deter animals and humans climbing over the wall, and make a good privacy shade.

2) Acid limes aka Mexican limes or Key lime (botanical name Citrus aurantifolia)  take up to 2 years to give a good yield of lemons. It is a type of citrus fruit, rich in vitamin C and natural sugars and is the most prolific yielder among the family of limes.

3) These trees are very hardy and easy to grow, all they need is slightly sandy and loamy soil with adequate drainage. Provide lots of micronutrient and organic manure for good growth and lots of fruit.

4) Acid lime trees don't need a lot of water! For few months in a year, stop watering your lemon tree, or reduce watering if the tree is still young. Over watering will lead to vegetative growth, and you will have a fabulous tree, but no lemons. Water the plant immediately after planting, and provide it good shade for the first few weeks. After the plant has settled down in its new home, give it full sunlight and water it at every 4 to 5 days interval during the first month.  Later on, water it at 8 to 10 days interval. 

5) Ideally, plant your acid lime trees in  Dec-Feb or June-Sep. Dig up soil thoroughly and make 60 x 60 x60 cm pits, with adequate spacing between rows. Allow them to soak up sun for 2 weeks before planting your trees.

6) Lemons can be had all year round! Most of the fruit can be harvested between
December-January and July-August seasons.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome to the Kitchen Garden Blog!

Hi Everyone,
This is the blog that will aim to answer all of your  kitchen garden questions and we hope you'll contribute by spreading the knowledge around...

The Baroda Horticulture Committee has organized the 40th Fruit and Flower Show at Model Farm, Baroda and we hope you'll make the most of it !