Quarter Acre of Livelihood – Update 2

Wanted to update the status of different elements laid out in the earlier post.
A rough layout of the different elements.
  1. Space for growing green manure for seeds.
    After 3 seasons, it seems quite easy to harvest sun hemp for seeds. Can’t say the same about Daincha.
    Space used: 100 sq ft
  2. Provide permanent space for creepers.
    We are using the fence for now to grow light creepers like bitter gourd. Not a good season though we got enough for the family.
    Wonder if it is the lack of
    a) monsoon
    b) crop rotation
    c) guild of supporting crops
    d) all of the above ūüôā
    Vertical Space used: 40 running feet, 6 feet high
  3. A  trellis made of stone pillars and wire mesh has been erected for climbers (again, country veggies) like chow-chow(coyote), snake gourd, ridge gourd and flat beans.
    We had some snake gourds and ridge gourds taking up this trellis and producing a decent yield. Our friends Anita and Sathish from Chennai with their little one, Nidhi, had helped us prepare some nice beds underneath the trellis. We are still waiting for the bottle gourds to flower.
    Space used: 160 sq ft
  4. Few beds for Aum’s favorite veggies like tomatoes, brinjals, radish, cluster beans, chili and¬†ladies finger.
    10 beds each measuring 10 feet by 4 feet have been set aside exclusively for veggies. Thanks to the extra sun light and lack of rains, we had a great season of tomatoes and ladies finger(s). 10 more adjacent beds have a green manure (Daincha) growing on them. We’d like to swap veggies and green manure between these 2 sets of beds for the next season and so on.
    Space used: 400 sq ft doubled.
  5. Space for greens.
    Like Amaranth and Ooty-1(Chakaravarthy Keerai)
    We sowed greens on two beds and mulched them nicely so the grass doesn’t get a head start. But I messed up by removing the mulch layer too late.¬† Should have removed it as soon as the seeds germinated (3 or 4 days for super moist beds and 6 or 7 days for not so moist beds) but I was late and in the meanwhile the stems grew slender, white and weak searching for sun light.
    Space used: 40 sq ft
  6. A test bed for experiments..
    For germination tests and labeling for different sources of seeds.
  7. Finally, there is a space set aside for this in the nursery space / green house.  But no testing done yet.
    Space used: 60 sq ft
  8. A seedling nursery close to home.
    Plan to do this in January once our bio-gas plant stabilises and we have regular output of rich slurry that can feed the seedlings.
    Have a 150 sq ft nursery space adjacent to our western wall now. Half of it has a hard mud floor and will be used to store seedlings.
  9. A permanent, continuously maintained bed for every day spices
    Corriander, Curry leaves, Fenugreek and Mint for now.
    Have been growing Corriander and Fenugreek in pots since they are a little finicky. Thanks to birds, I think we have close to a 100 curry  plants
    all over the farm now. I need better luck with mint – They don’t want to grow and they don’t want to die.
    Voluntary Space used: 30 sq ft
  10. A sample bed of what grows deep in the farm
    So we don’t miss out the harvest window.
    Haven’t gotten to this yet. It seems a litte complicated in the initial attempt with the big guys crowding over the small guys.
  11. Some space for fruits which make up our dinner.
    Papyas are just flowering. Bananas are in plenty. Guavas and Pomogranates are available seasonally. Would love to add Custard Apples and Dates.
    Most of our banana trees went kaput with the Asian Fungus attack and lack of rains. But the few survivors are coming back with vigor and will surely spread the clan. The Papayas are making merry. We have 6 custard apple trees growing now. If any one knows a good nursery to get traditional dates saplings that don’t require too much water, I’ll be soo happy.¬† Growing them from seeds hasn’t worked out so far. May be the green house will help.
  12. Space for our aspirational lunch – millets.
    We have grown Kambu (Bajra, Pearl Millet) with a fair degree of success and had a bumper crop of Corn. Fox Tail millet is promising but everything else needs more practice.
    Big attempts with different varieties drew big blanks. For now, we are content to blame it all on the monsoon that never arrived.
    Space used: 8000 sq ft
  13. Space for easy to grow pulses
    Currently we grow Pigeon Pea, Horse gram and Cow pea.
    Got a decent yield of cow peas this season. This has become naturalised so even if we don’t sow, cow pea plants seem to grow all around the house.¬† In a month, it’ll be time to sow horse gram. Pigeon Pea hasn’t done well this year.
    Space used: 400 sq ft
  14. Nuts!
    Our cooking oil needs are taken care of by the generous coconut trees. But¬†we are nuts about ground nuts so we’d like to grow them at least one season¬†a year – typically from Nov 15 to Feb 15.
    Waiting for November.
    Space set aside: 600 sq ft
  15. A patch for herbs
    like Tulsi, Vettiver, lemon grass, ¬†Adathoda, Indian Borage (Omavalli),¬†Kariyat(Sirianangai), Veldt grape (Pirandai). Would like to add King of Bitters(Periya nangai), Solanim Trilobatum (thoothuvalai) and Pennywort (Vallarai). We’d also like to grow some herbs in every raised bed so it creates its own chemistry with the soil, vegetables and insects.
    The herbs in first list floursih and have mutliplied rapidly. The rest didn’t survive – after a month of watering every day, I gave up and so did the plants.
    Space used: 200 sq ft
  16. Space for trees and shrubs that bear flowers and fruits.
    Mainly for bees and birds. It looks like there will be riot of colours next summer.
    n = n+1 ūüôā
    Space used: 80 sq ft
  17. Tender Coconut water has become an important part of our diet in health and sickness. So that’s an additional one on the wish list. 4 trees using up 20 sq ft of ground shoud be more than enough for us.

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