Well, that’s a pressing challenge in front of us ! Zameen ko pahelwan kaise karenge ?

Dig up any bit of soil on the land, its teeming with earthworms & castings, you feel woh, maan this is great soil, its only true to an extent, because something critical is missing in the soil & i am not sure what it is, i’ve not been able to crack the code.

Lets take a few examples :

1. The Tapioca which was planted last october, the stems remained at thumb size, the height of the plant remained at around 3 ft, the leaf size was dismal, i had given up hope, but in march when we dug to see if there is any tapioca growing….. lo behold, there was about a Kg of tasty tapioca. But why didn’t the plant grow to its optimum ?

(I hope it will be the same with the turmeric, not much leaf growth, but hopefully lots of turmeric below the soil !)

2. Groundnuts grown during the last winter was fairly satisfactory.

3. But the Bananas which were planted last august seems stuck at around 3 ft, leaf size is small & absolutely no thickening of the stems, it’s the same with Papaya……..why ?

5. Cucurbitaceae’s have also been erratic, some giving luscious growth, some looking pathetic.

6. Same with tomatoes, brinjals, chillies, okra & pulses. I am a big fan of Tuar/arhar, in our last farm in Sanjan we had abundance of it, which gave us abundance of pods & abundance of biomass, where as here its just not working, same with mung.

In a few weeks time our rice will be harvested & it will be time to plant the winter crops & vegetables. The brain storming has already started. I surely don’t want to get any organic fertilizers from outside, (‘though partner will disagree with me). I belong to the Dabholkar’s old school of farming where he says good fertile soil should contain 50% soil derived from organic matter & 50% derived from mineral matter (top soil). So the key for me is the former; which is to create the 50% soil which is derived from organic matter.

Also with the arrival of Paaru, our calf we do have her piss & shit to work on, plus with the rains ceasing its time to start cutting the grass, also its time to take my saw to prune some trees & harvest all the green leaves.

Improving fertility is only one part of the job, then maintaining the fertility is the second part, chatting up with the plants is the third part, arguing with the soil is the fourth part, it goes on & on for a while till we also become part of the soil. Some time back friend Sunita had passed me some of her gyan:  land takes so long to get to know and work with, and yield results esp if it is degraded or has been misused. After 8 years, I finally feel that my own place is only now beginning to look a bit healthy and I feel I still have so much to learn.

Well….. the journey into the earth goes on !