Friday, December 25, 2009

once a year post

I spent  a lot of time this March and April looking for land in the Dindugal area with Karuna's help.  Both Karuna and his cousin spent a lot of time going around to various places and giving me a better idea of the area and what you can get for what price etc.  There were several promising areas but somehow nothing clicked.  Then I heard from Chitra (Gubbi) about Ivo and Thachi who had started a commune named Aranya and had acquired land in Pudukottai.  The Aranya Commune ( members was created with the idea of conserving rare species in the temple groves of Pudukottai.  Aranya also aims to do sustenance farming (organic), acquire additional land to generate income to support the venture and demonstrate the economic viability of organic farming.  I visited Pudukottai in June and Thachi and Balu showed me the land.  There was a beautiful banyan tree on the bund bordering the kanmai which was full of birds.  We talked about what Aranya was planning to achieve and it seemed to me that much of what I wanted to do matched with their aims.  I decided to join them and we rented a house at the village starting August.  I spent a week there around end August and got settled in.

Then I spent a couple of weeks at Auroville doing a course on mud based construction.  Met a lot of interesting folks - Jamshed the style guru with a mundu from Thrissur and John the redhead from Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association.  Learnt that rammed earth would probably be the best option for me and also got some idea of the complexity involved. 

Around September 19th was when I actually got started with the nursery and the vegetable plot.  Madhavan and Prabha came that weekend and helped plant thaandri saplings (witness the grins after the work got done!).

M&P got some nice snaps of some beautiful red spiders in the fields.

This is a paati we bought part of the land from:

Oct 26th: Planted pomegranate (madulai) couple of days back.

Nov 3rd: Planted veggies - ridge gourd (peerkai), bottle gourd long (sorai), short, bitter gourd (paavai),  snake gourd (podalai), ladies finger (vendai), avarai, jicama (a mexican root plant that tastes like an apple), watermelon, musk melon, maize, radish (mullangi), coriander (malli).

Nov 8th: Planted 150 nelli in the nursery besides what was already there.  Peerkai, avarai, watermelon and mullangi have germinated.  Madulai as well.

Nov 13th:
Planted neem today and a couple of days ago.  Taandri 25 out of 93 germinated.

Nov 18th:
Planted 200 more nelli.  Want to compare with nelli planted in top soil from the garden (without manure & red soil).

Nov 19th:
Some sorai plants near the karuvel got fungus or some pest on the leaves - its been raining for the last couple of days.  Trimmed the karuvel a bit.  Thinned out mullangi and got keerai to eat!  Transplanted ones don't seem to be doing very well (maybe just the shock).  Decided not to water because ground is still wet even though it did not rain.  Malli and ash gourd also germinated in the last week.  Neighbor said avarai should be planted in aadi only and not now.

Nov 20th:
Planted five each of all the seeds we have of tree species: gangi ravi, bohanima, gummadi teak, red sandal, acacia planifrons, veegisa, elandai, nux vomica, soapnut, subabul, seema thangedy, naravepa, mahogany, magizham, orange, a round brown seed 1/2" size (the turka vepa?), kadukkai.

Dec 3rd:
Arumugam cleared space in the garden to plant millets (keppai, tinai, varagu and kambu on the varappu) and ellu for seeds. In the process he killed one pushni and one solam (I had only two :-(). Started gomyam mix with neem, chilli, garlic, tobacco, a weed and leaves from the neighbor's tree (ask Thachi for the name).

Applied gomyam to the sorai but didn't seem to help. The vendai seems better.

Dec 18th:
Plugged openings in the South, North, SE corner. Applied gomyam to veggies. Balu showed me sentatti which causes itching (will add a photo). Also showed me a keerai like ponnanganni. Vendi in the field have started to fruit - probably not getting enough nutrients. Tatta pairu, kambu, vellai solam, and ellu have germinated in the last four plots in the field. But lots of water standing - hope they survive. Lots of vembu has germinated in the packets more than a week back. Have to repacket those. Reseeded nelli that did not germinate.

Dec 22nd:
Added goat manure to veggies in the field and the garden.

Could not get any gomyam for the vendai in the garden. Tried substituting with human urine :-) but a rain promptly washed out my experiment. Could not put sambal on it either. Hope it survives.

Fenced off a larger part of the garden and started tomatoes and brinjal in it. Planted kadukkai in the nursery.

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