Showing posts with label growing vegetables at home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label growing vegetables at home. Show all posts

Friday, 12 February 2016

Growing tomatoes after many failures

Tomatoes - A common fruit in every Indian Kitchen that is involved almost in every course of Indian food.This post will be a draft of my experience in growing these berries in my Roof garden in Chennai.

My gardening friends are experts in growing tomatoes , but I am on other side failed many times to grow these berries.

Initial Story:
When I decided to sow seeds for tomatoes, I started with a country tomato seeds which I got from the market. 

      STEP 1 : Removed seeds from a country tomato
      STEP 2 : Washed it and soaked it over night
      STEP 3 : Kept them in a paper towel and allowed them to germinate .


  •    Throw these seeds along with the kitchen water.
  •    They will grow by them-self at right time.
  •    Later you can transplant them to bigger pots once they grow big.

Out of 7 tomato plants in my garden, only 2 are grown with the careful seed processing method. Remaining five are adopted ones(YES , I adopt tomato plants that I found on my way home). In these 7 plants each one is of different shape and sizes. I couldn't recognize them by name , but I love their shapes and colors. Dark red - pale red - Orange - Green - yellow colored tomatoes are the end products of my R&D division in my Terrace Garden.

As said, this easily grown plant germinated at one shot and then it was over crowded in my paper towel.
Slowly they were distributed to all my friends who actually got inspired by seeing their germination rate(They are not gardeners so over enthusiastic reaction)

My Plants First Disease: 


One fine day when I saw my tomato plants their leaves looked curly and they were curled and bend down.So this is the first disease which affected my tomato plant to a person who doesn't know anything about plants and their disease.

The BIG Mistake:
When I became popular among  my colleague on my roof garden, I started getting more reviews and suggestion. Once suggestion was to spray tobacco syrup on rose plants.Being so clever I used them on my tomato plants too... Within days all my tomatoes got the TMV(Tobacco Mosaic Virus) and I couldnt control them. All my plants died and I have to throw them out of my garden to save other plants.

Tobacco is useful in targeting caterpillars, aphids, and worms, but got to know later that it is not safe to use on peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, or any member of the solanaceous plant family.

Common Plants in solanaceous plant family:
Leaf Curl disease(Cucumber Mosaic Virus):
Some viral infections caused leaf rolling in my tomatoes.The solution is to discard the plant as soon as possible. But I couldn't go that cruel to kill my lady who has fruits all over her. Here comes My plant doctor(Mr.Anoop Kumar) for rescue and he guides me to use Chilly turmeric spray first. Worst case he asked me to use pseudomonas (5 ml in 1 litre water )for 3 days  and trichoderma (5 ml in 1 litre water ) after 15 days.

The Other Main Villain: Mealy Bugs

  STEP 1:

       Killing all visible Mealy Bugs by hands is one my practice that showed me good result.

  • Killing these insects in the plant will send alarming message to   other bugs and they will soon move away from your plant. 
    • This worked for me 100% and now I am practicing that every time for all my plants. 

      STEP 2:

      Remove the Mealy Bug affected plant parts. 
     Check lower side of your plant leaves when your plants show a sign of tiredness... These insects happily suck all your plants nutrition by sitting behind  the leaves. Remove those leaves before it spreads to other parts of plants. It worked for me in Bitter gourd and Snake Gourd plants too that was affected by aphids rather. 

      STEP 3:
      Wash your plants with GCT pesticide 
    Spraying this spray didn't solve my problem. Mealy Bugs later covered my tomatoes shoot and their leaves are curled and didn't allow the flowers to bloom.So I washed my entire plant with the diluted version of GCT pesticide. Wear a glove and wash your plant covering stems and leaves. Give them a full bath . Avoid watering your plants for a day. 

      STEP 4:
    If you are about to throw your sprouted onions and garlic WAIT..... Dont throw them, rather just throw them on your grow bags . Let them sprout and grow big. Crush their leaves when you water or weed your veggie . The smell from these leaves will not invoke any aphids. I have onions and garlic plants growing in almost every plant. Just 1 or 2 is fine . But it has good result. Didn't work well with Mealy Bugs

       STEP 5:
         Keep plants that will lure Alphids & Mealy Bugs

    If your follow steps from 1 to 4, where will these bugs go. They will either die or they will find your next plant. But we can give another solution for this. Try planting some plants that attracts these bugs. I planted Tuber-rose , Mums(Chrysanthemum) . Now I could see them jumping from my vegetable plants to these plants. I later cut these flowering plants as soon as they get affected. I wont spray GCT over them. Even portulaca and Purslane(Table roses) attracts these bugs. 

        STEP 6:
        Cut off the wilted plant parts and suckers.
    Dried leaves & Stems are of no use . They can be the breeding ground for other insects. So remove them with sharp cutters . I remove them when they turn yellow . Also remove the leaves that are very close to your ground cover. 

        SUCKERS:  They are the additional shoots that comes between your main         stem and lateral leaves. Remove them as they serve no purpose other than       sucking plant nutrition.

       STEP 7:  Mulching
    This is important so that the moisture in your soil is not drained out by the scorching sun and also to protect from insects.When ever I find a weed, I cut them into pieces and will use them as mulch.

      STEP 8:  Wood Ash
    Spray them to kill these mealy bugs. I haven't tried that yet .. but this is 
    I have gone through many websites and blog that tells about this fancy word called caging.
    Until then I knew this world only for animals that need to be CAGED and not for my plants. 
    For me this makes no big difference. I was just thinking of our farmers. Do they do it in their farm? Then what is the point in complicating simple things. 

    Here are the few Pros and cons that I have gone through for caging

    PROS :
    • Provide shades for the fruit and prevent sun-scald(This happened to one of my tomatoes , where the bottom part was very close to a wall)
    • Not to worry on pruning, pinching off the suckers, or training the plant.
    • Retains Moisture of soil (prevent cracking and blossom end rot)
    • They can fall any time damaging the entire plant
    • More dense , more time to ripe
    I don't want to invest much on these caging structure. So here are my alternatives.

    . I tie them to a post with long cloth string.

    . Rest them near my walls with a trellis made out of wires and used cloth ropes 


    I am having tomatoes that are enough for my family. Its almost a month now that I stopped buying tomatoes from market(From January 2016 - Feb 2016 and it continues)
    So back to the growth chart, My lady grows high and she sets up her flowers in almost all bunches. I waited for that little fruit to peep out of her calyx, but she wilted the very next day.I thought I was unlucky. But the truth is this concrete jungle has no bees or butterflies to do the pollination work. So I did Hand pollination.

    Hand Pollination:

    Not a fancy word or process. Just rub two fingers in the center of the flower. Tadaaaa... I saw that little fruit. Now I have bunches of tomatoes in my garden and my son picks them every morning for my kitchen.

    • Vermi-compost 
    • Bone Meal
    • Fish Meal
    • Starch water from kitchen
    • Neem cake
    • Pongamia cake
    • cow dung
    • Rock Phosphate
    • Epsom Salt

    Make your potting mix with good dose of nutrients before transplanting your tomato plant. These plants grow very fast and they need nutrition at every point of time. I use my default potting mix(Coco-peat + vermi + bone meal + fish meal + Neem cake + pongamia cake + cow dung). Adding to this , I used organic NPK fertilizer where in the above mentioned ingredients are mixed in right proportion. With one of my gardening friends advice , I used Rock Phosphate at the time of flowering and it shows effective result too. Animal manures are the alternatives to Rock phosphate so try those too if you cant afford to pay for Rock phosphate. You can also use Epsom salt that enhances taste of your tomatoes. But I haven't tried it yet.

    Best time to grow tomatoes: The plants that sprouted on October is giving me fruits till February. So now the calculation is yours. 3 months to start yielding. I can comment on this topic only after doing extensive testing.

    Wednesday, 8 April 2015

    Growing bush beans(பீன்ஸ்)

    I remember my school days with every day lunch box filled with two different food - one veg and one non-veg. Guys me and mom are pure non-vegetarians. My lunch box comes with a cup of rice , fish curry and a vegetable(this I am talking about is ever day menu).

    My mom follows her mother's footstep and she cant live her day without fish(WE ARE FISH FAMILY!!! - seriously fishes would curse us :-) ). But healthy side, she adds a vegetable every day into my diet. she has her own set of vegetable list[ Carrot , beans , bitter guard , snake guard, beetroot , greens , lady's finger] that's it over... A vegetable per day with fish curry covering all six days of a week school.

    But later when I started working and stay away from my home, I got used to vegetarian food and preferred that.But the same vegetables were included in my diet. Because of that or so, I want to grew my own beans plant in my garden. 

    Since I am doing my vegetation in top roof, I cant go for creeper beans , so I chose bush beans.

    Day:1 - I sowed 4 seeds into a pot same day of my lady's finger plantation.Watered it and left for that day.

    Day 15 - Almost 15 days later I saw germination from the pot. Yes those are my bush bean plants. I didn't have their  very first picture. Will update this blog later during my next sowing

    Days later my bean bushes are thick and dense. They are showing good sign of growth except one , which was pricked by my little champ during his inspection ... I planted it again given it additional support.. Yes it survived.. 

    Later I saw bean buds coming out at corners of each leaves, 3 days of maturity they bloomed . Purple color flowers first day later with little tail. Yes they are my bush bean pods. 

    Later I saw buds coming out at corners of each leaves, 3 days of maturity they bloomed . Purple color flowers first & days later with little tail. Yes they are my cluster bean pods.As they mature day by day , my bush beans grew long and long.

    If you need to feed a family of four , you surely need more bean plants than what I planted. It hardly gives you 3 to 4 beans per day.
    You have to either accumulate it for a week or you have to plant more plants.

    Monday, 30 March 2015

    Growing Bitter gourd.

    I am a bitter gourd lover. My mom used to roast it with green chillies , mustard , small onions and curry leaves finally garnished with freshly grated coconut.Many people hate this but I LOVE IT!!

    So this story is all about my victory in growing bitter gourd.Two ways of growing your Mrs.Gourd

    1. Purchase seeds from stores                           
    2. Save your own seeds.
    I did both.Bitter Gourd is of two types(visibly) - long and short. My mom says small once are always tasty for making it as a poriyal(sauteed vegetable). So I got my long bitter gourd from online store and short once I saved from the veggie which I got from shops.

    I started with soaking my bitter gourd seeds in water for 24 hours to soften the outer cover. My first attempt to directly sowing it in my seedling pot failed , on surfing articles found that it is better to prepare your seeds before you sow them directly into potting soil.

    After 24 hours , I took them out carefully laid them on tissue paper, covered them with another tissue paper. made the paper wet ( not too much though, just to make sure that your seeds should not get dried.)

    I checked them every day once , moisten them , removed any damaged seeds. To all this effort , I saw small roots popping out of them few days later. After they grew little bit , I transferred them to seedling pot filled with potting soil.

    Once they reach some 3-4 feet high and the time when the start to put out their veins to look for a possible support , I shifted them to my grow bag which would be their permanent place. I tied Mrs.gourd next to a supporting stick which in turn tied to a net which I kept for these beautiful climbers.

    Weeks later veins were spread all over . I purposefully trimmed few veins to make sure they leave more branches for more bitter gourds.
    If not doing so they keep climbing all over your garden. pinching of their veins makes them to leave more branches. 

    Later I could see small buds on every leaf node ,   they bloomed on subsequent days. Days later I could see cute little bitter gourds.

    My very first harvest is not that successful.I got only two bitter gourds per week. Flowers used to be there but they will fall in the evening. So I started learning more about them. Finally I found that they are the male flowers who generally last for a day. So i rushed to do hand pollination between male and female flowers. A week later i had a bunch of lovely bitter gourds.

    They turned out to be yummy gravy for my lunch...

    For recipes Click here

    Tuesday, 24 February 2015

    Growing Lady's Finger(Okra/Bindhi)


    After my initial preparation , I started to sow lady's finger seeds.
    Here is the story line for  "My Little Lady's Finger" 

    I sowed my seeds directly to the pot since it is my first attempt

    Day 1 : Preparing my pot

    Preparing Planters

    Day 2 : Sowing seeds.

    1. Next day I took some seeds of Lady's finger which are already treated(that's why it is red in color )

    3. Made 4 holes in the pot and placed the seeds of Lady's finger ,not so deep and cover it with sand.

    4. I Sprinkled water in the top so that seeds of Lady's finger are not disturbed

    I watered them regularly twice , looking each day for some sign of my very first plant.

    Day  10: Here I see my little plants very first time

    Days Later I woke up and went to my terrace with my little champ to water my pots.
    SURPRISE!!!! I saw little shoot protruding its head above the sand. I felt as if they were talking to me.."Hey it me , your little Lady's finger" Wow guys you should really feel what I felt. I carefully monitored them and watered them regularly hoping, one fine day I will have my very own home grown Lady's finger

    The Bad guys..

    Days passed by and  I saw few more additional tickets near "My Little Lady's Finger".They are the intruders , enemies , villains. Chuck-Chuck-Chuck I ended their life. I am the villain for them today to save "My Little Lady's Finger".

    I felt as if my plants saying a Big thanks to me "Hey lady , thanks for saving me - they took all my food these days"

    My loss
    As days grows by One plant was growing fast and others were fading away. To their sad part they lost their life due to heavy rain and little ants.This was my sad day . I lost few of my little ones .

    Here is my super heroine
    As days roll over my super heroine( after surviving from all those villains , pest and rain ) grew up fast and now her leaves are big enough to cover up little champ hands. I moved here from the cover area to face sun today

    She now has little buds standing upwards facing sun.

    "My Little Lady's Finger" bloomed...
    Hurray , I saw her bloomed after these days , Big yellow flowers with dark maroon spots looks awesome. I am seeing a flower of a vegetable for very first time in chennai.I would have shared my feelings almost every one in my office about her blossom ... I know I am crazy in this.

    The flower lost only for the day and other flowers started blooming in the subsequent days.

      Little  "Lady's Finger"

    Later the flowers turned out to be beautiful,tiny ,little vegetables .. To the gardeners I am sharing one of my princes( "Lady's Finger") growth in this little picture

    Time to harvest.

    As days rolled by ,Lady's Finger's matured and are ready for harvesting. My first harvest is with 3 lady's fingers. Actually I felt little bad in pricking those veggies. Here is a snap of my harvested veggies. Yup time to cook...