The salient features of lady’s finger vegetable are as under:-
* Any soil will be suitable for cultivation
* Cultivation can be undertaken anytime during the year
* If cultivation is started in the Tamil month of Adi the return will be more
* Country lady’s finger will give yield in 120 days
* On an average 6,000 Kg. yield is possible
Cultivation under organic farming practice:-
Contrary to the general opinion that organic farming is feasible only in respect of paddy, banana and millets, Muthazhagan of Mazhavarayanallur village near Mannargudi in Tiruvarur District has proved that the cultivation of country lady’s finger vegetable in organic method can be very effective and fruitful. Those who are following the organic method seem to be still sceptical and they feel that if insects damage the plants, only the chemical insecticides would be the remedy. However, Muthazhagan has proved beyond any doubt that perfect organic farming can be followed for this vegetable also.
Nature of country vendai:-
Muthazhgan has twenty years of solid experience in lady’s finger cultivation. He has experience in both chemical method and organic method of farming. He is very clear and confident that the vendais under chemical farming would not be as tasty as under organic farming. He further says that the vendais under chemical farming would be big but whereas under organic farming it would be small but with more densely spread seeds and tastier. This can be cooked even after three days from harvest and it will take little more time for frying.
Muthazhagan’s grandfather was a mechanic and his father was owning a provision stores. Muthazhagan studied in ITI in diesel mechanics and was a car mechanic for some time. Due to his passion in agriculture he shifted to field and that too, initially, he had taken up some land under lease only for cultivation. Then he bought 10 acres of land and used chemical farming on account of lack of knowledge on organic farming. Thanks to Pasumai Vikatan he picked up due interest and knowledge and thereafter started following organic farming. Now he has been using three acres under chemical farming. His land is mixture of sedimentary soil and normal sand, called twin-sand land. He cultivates samba paddy in three acres and vendai cultivation in half an acre during summer.
Both his wife and son are actively participating in his efforts on agriculture. He has bought two country cows also.
Income & Expenditure details of cultivation of country variety of vendais in half an acre
Country variety of vendais will be short in size when compared to hybrid variety. Moreover, the country variety will have more side branches and so also the number of vendais from each. It will ripe on the 40th day from seeding. On alternate days they will pluck. In his half acre land, he will get 10 kg in the first pluck, 25 kg.from the second and 60 kg. from then on. From the 6th one onwards, he will get 130 to 150 numbers for each pluck for another 25 to 30 times. Thereafter it will start diminishing.
Muthazhagan says plucking operation can continue for 60 times on alternate days up to 120 days. He will totally get 6,000 kg yield and one kilo can be sold @ Rs.15/- to Rs.26/-. Average selling price of Rs.20/- can certainly be expected. Both the quality and taste are fully assured under organic farming practice. In 160 days he gets a sum of Rs.1,20,000/- and after meeting all expenses, he gets a net profit of Rs.75,000/- in all. Even after 160 days, the plants are live and and ripe. They will continue to give yield for another 80 days if jeevamirdam, panchkavya, ginger-pepper and chilly karaisal are given for better protection.
Comparatively speaking, if the whole cultivation is under chemical farming and hybrid variety, its total life span itself would be 120 days. 40th day from seeding will get us harvest and further harvest will be available only for 80 days for which lot of chemical fertilizers and insecticides have to be provided to sustain even the above harvest. In general, it is a very challenging task.
Take 1 kg green chillies, ½ kg. dry ginger, ¼ kg garlic and 100 gm tobacco. Mix and grind them in the mixie. Add 4 lt.water and boil it until it becomes just 2 lt. In a separate vessel, pour 1 lt.water and soak 100 gm khadi soap and mix with 50 mg pungan, illuppai and neem oil. Add both the substances and filter. The diluted essence can be mixed with 100 lt.water and sprayed on the plants. This process is required to be done once in ten days.
Space: ½ acre Vegetable: country variety of vendai
Plough the land completely until the soil becomes loose with moisture
With 3 ft. distance rows of water channel are to be created
Wet the land, create pits with 1 inch depth with a distance of 1 ½ ft.in between the plants
Put 100 gm goat residue in the pit and plant 2 seeds each in the pits
For ½ an acre land, 1 ½ kg vendai seeds would be required
On the 3rd day they will sprout; on the 7th day leaves will appear and on the 10th day jeevamirdam should be added in water and irrigated
On 13th day weeding should be done
On the 20th day 100 lt jeevamirdam should be added in the irrigation water
On the 25th day 2 ft.breadth and ¾ ft.depth water channels should be created and the collected sand should be used for creating bunds between the rows of vendai plants
On the 30th day it will start flowering. At that time, 300 ml. panchakavya should be mixed in 10 lt. water and filtered and this filtered substance should be sprayed over the plants with the help of sprinkler
Within one week from this stage, the plants will grow strong and stable with flowers
Once in 20 days the same process of spraying panchakavya karaisal should be continued
On the 35th days herbal insecticide must be sprayed so that leaf lice can be prevented
On the 40th day 100 lt.jeevamirdam should be mixed in the irrigation channel water
On the 42nd day green chillies-dried ginger-garlic karaisal should be mixed in water and 300 ml. should be sprayed
On the 55th day100 lt.jeevamirdam karaisal should be sprayed with the help of neem leaves in order to prevent chappathi insects
Once in 15 days jeevamirdam karaisal shoud be continued in this manner because the attack of chappathi insects is so common and challenging for the farmers and if left unchecked, it will become uncontrollable
5 kg. each of pungan, neem, adathodai, nochi and erukkan leaves with 5 lt.cow’s urine should be mixed in 100 lt. water and kept intact for one week. Afterwards it must be filtered and added with 100 ml.each of pungan, neem, 100 gm.khadi soap should also be mixed. This substance should be sprayed in the ratio of 300 ml.in 10 lt.water respectively.
Muthazhagan’s son – stepping into his father’s shoes:-
Muthazhagan’s son Mamalaivasan who is just studying IX standard is automatically interested in not only agriculture but also organic farming practice ever since he happened to attend a group of doctors who had visited his school and enlightened the students on the ill effects of chemical substances. He is helping his father as and when he finds time.
How to procure seeds:-
In case of hybrid vendai seeds, the same seeds cannot be used for repeat harvest; rather, each time, new seeds need to be bought from the shop. But in the case of country vendais, the same can be used for the repeat harvest also. Based on our actual requirements, the vendais should be left untouched even after ripening. It will become reddish in colour. Then the seeds can be taken out and mixed with dried cow dung and ashes and allowed to dry in sun for two days. This can ideally be used for one year provided once a month it should be mixed with ashes and dried in sun.
Which soil is suitable:-
Country vendais can be grown in any soil with channel irrigation availability and throughout the year. However, if we sow it in the Tamil month of adi, the yield and return will be more in the subsequent months as there are quite a few festivals during which time the demand will be more for vendais.
Thus Muthazhagan has proved himself as an exemplary farmer in successfully trying country vendais under the concept of organic farming practice in his land.
(This article originally written in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan by K Ramakrishnan has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)