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.