The rains are here and new life beckons - the perfect time to start our kitchen garden, so that the rains can water it for us! Our kitchens are the source of many many seeds that can be used successfully to grow our own food. Here are some simple methods farmer Alladi Mahadevan shares to use common kitchen items as seeds:
Just Bury 'em!
This applies to tubers, the most common one in our homes being potato. Very often, potatoes develop little white shoat-buds from their eyes' if left undisturbed for a few days These potatoes can just be placed whole in the soil, or in a pot, to a depth of about 3-4 cms. The size-measure for a pot is that there should be about 4 inches of space/soil all around the whole potato, and 4" of depth.
The same method applies to ginger, onion, sweet potato, taro, elephants' foot, fresh turmeric, tapioca, and sugarcane (Horizontally with nodes intact). Whereas some of these are roots and some are stems, all of them can be sown the same way.
Many of our common spices and pulses, like mustard, jeera (cumin), green gram (and many others) need to be soaked to improve germination. You can soak the seeds overnight and remove the water in the morning. (Some seeds sprout immediately with overnight soaking, while others take 2-3 days to sprout) The soaked seeds can be placed in the ground/pot and covered lightly with soil This method can be applied to Mustard, Jeera (Cumin). Methi (Fenugreek), Green Gram, Black Gram, Green Peas, Cow Pea, Chick Pea, Pigeon Pea, Whole Sesame, and almost all Bean varieties.
Separate and Sow
In fleshy fruits/vegetables, the seeds need to be separated from the flesh of the ripe fruit. This can be done by soaking the fully ripe fruit in water overnight, or longer if required. The water can be removed when you see that the flesh and seeds have separated. The seeds can then be collected and shade-dried. Then these can be sown in individual banana gro-bags (see our issue 2). If your gro bag has a depth of 6" or more, then the smaller plants can grow in them. If the bags are small, then you can transplant them.
Wait and Sow
For vegetable varieties with less flesh, we can just wait till the vegetable ripens fully, and then becomes totally dry. Once it is fully dry to the touch, the seeds are ready to be removed by splitting open the skin. These seeds can then be planted to a depth of 3-4 cms in small or large banana gro-bags, and may need transplantation according to the size of the plant and the container.
This method can be used for chilly, capsicum, all the gourd family such as snake gourd, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, pumpkin, watermelon, and the cucumber family plants
Another common spice - pudina - can be grown at home by simply planting the stem bought from the store after removing I the leaves. Try it!
The general rule of thumb for watering any plant is to keep the soil just slightly moist - never water-logged or soaking-wet, and never totally dry. Keeping the plants in a place where the morning sun falls is another rule with which we can't go wrong.
Wishing you happy gardening, and a whole lot of home-grown, fresh, organic food this monsoon!