After all the distractions & finally deciding that we will not build anything this summer, all in all it has eased me back to working on the land.
I definitely have a soft corner for root crops. Different types of Yams, Turmeric, Ginger… i guess it is a thrill to have something growing below the soil, one does not see what is happening below, one only sees what is happening with the leaf growth. I just love their leaf combinations & colours, plus from a farmer’s point of view… the produce can be stored unlike other vegetables that have to be consumed quickly.
But what i am striving for is to grow a combination of different plants so that not only do we, the inhabitants of the land, have a healthy diet but more importantly the soil also has a healthy diet also (read ph) with different types of flora growing at the same time.
The time was right to go in search of planting material for all the Yams & for Turmeric ( the normal one & also the famous anti oxidant called Amba halad or mango turmeric) . I knew of farmers in Valsad, South Gujarat who have been growing these for the last many years.
I took the long drive…. Pune – Bombay expressway, the turn off @ Mankhurd, then on to the Eastern Express Highway, bypassing Thane….. then on to the NH 8 towards Baroda. Since my personal navigator (my partner ) was not there, i was lucky to meet Arvind the night before & he gave me perfect directions …. Thanx buddy !!
Amrutbhai met me on the highway in Valsad & then we headed to his friend Shantilal’s farm. Unfortunately i forgot to carry my camera, so all the pics are from my phone. He has many heaps like the one below, which basically is a truck load & for each truck load of this yam (elephant foot & the more expensive purple yam) he gets a minimum about Rs 25,000/- … amazing isn’t it.
Here are Amruthbhai & Shantilal packing the “mango turmeric” (Amba halad) for me. Amazing growth. They basically plant a piece as big as our small finger & each plant will give more than a kilo of produce …. amazing !
Amrutbhai told me another amazing fact that the Turmeric plant can grow up to 6 ft & can give a produce to about 3 kgs per plant per sq ft !
I said… What ?
He said .. Yes, my father is the living proof, he received a Government award many years back for taking these record crops successfully.
Apart from picking up almost 150 kgs of planting material, i had a great time interacting with them.
They went all out to explain to me how these crops should be taken, with drawings, fertilizer usage & shockingly even herbicide usage.
I guess they were a tad disappointed with me when i said … well, isn’t there another way to make a living from farming other than by producing food chemically…
I had some more place in the car and my mind was on how to get some good coconut saplings. How can i live without coconuts ? I use them in most of my cooking… either in the masala, or in the garnish or in the tadka & not to forget some other specialities with fresh coconut milk. And being a Southerner… ‘having land without a coconut tree growing…. well, …….to say the least……one is not a farmer.
On the way back from Valsad, I headed to the place where one can get the best coconut saplings i.e Kalpavriksh ( it’s a legendary farm… i needn’t say anything more).
I called up Nareshbhau….
hey…. i am on my way, are you there on the farm, i will be there in an hour’s time… i need about 25 saplings…
done, will you have lunch with us…
As i reach there, i could see him getting all the saplings ready. A hearty lunch with Nareshbhau & his father the legendary Bhaskarbhai, plus his blessings
Then the long drive back
& finally, everyone is home….. i was also like these coconut saplings taking a dip in the river, after the long journey !!