Thursday, March 24, 2022

A Permaculture Farm: Nature's Utopia

What does paradise look like? We may never know, but one thing we can agree on is that it certainly does not have skyscrapers, fancy cars and shopping malls. In fact, our psyche picturizes paradise as a place that has all the magical, mystical and spectacular elements of Nature. One wonders what would it take for human beings to create something that comes close to what we shall call ‘A Paradise’.

The permaculture farm:

The moment you visit a fully functional, active permaculture farm, you immediately know that you have entered a place of abundance. Before even learning anything in detail about the place, you already feel the harmony, unity and balance in the system. You instantly connect with the natural energies being circulated within this place with a profound sense of belonging.

The first thing you notice is the permaculture farm site is much much greener than the surrounding locality, even in the hot and dry summers, like an oasis in the middle of a desert.

You also notice that the farm is densely planted. The greening is due to the sheer quantity of perennial herbs, shrubs, climbers and trees. It looks like an orderly forest, or a Nature Park.

This density is coupled with a great diversity. There is a wide range of productive plant varieties, support species, pioneer species as well as wild species growing together, having a positive impact on each other.

A permaculture farm is a vibrant ecosystem that supports local biodiversity. There is plenty of buzz around with birds, butterflies, bees and many other creatures. Most of the visiting and resident creatures engage in beneficial activities, having positive interactions with the flora and fauna of your farm.

In a permaculture farm, soil is protected, preserved and nurtured with a good amount of organic matter. Most importantly, rather than bringing soil from outside, the soil is naturally created within the farm system. Instead of exposing the naked, plowed, dead soil to direct sunlight on open fields, the soil is well shaded by canopy, heavily mulched and kept alive in its most active form.

In a permaculture farm, water available in all forms is captured, harvested, conserved, stored, spread and irrigated within the farming system by using various sustainable methods. There is an internal water cycle that is responsible for all the greenery and vice versa.

You let go of the obsession of bringing the whole land into one flat level by unnecessary and haphazard use of machinery. Instead, you use the existing topography to your advantage, whether its slopes, valleys, plateaus or flatlands.

You let go of the obsession of growing a single crop on long stretches of open fields, instead you aim for well synchronized multi-cropping. You discard the conventional monoculture practices and you adopt various innovative polyculture models, where you can also grow multiple main crops and staple food.

You let go of the mainstream, commercial/ industrial agricultural practices. The successful permaculture farmer thinks more like a gardener rather than agriculturist. An upscaled garden is way more productive than a downscaled agriculture field. 

There are no synthetic fertilizers, no chemical pesticides, no harmful fungicides, no herbicides, no deep ploughing of land with tractors, no heavy tilling. You practice various sustainable methods of organic farming, natural farming, ecological farming, regenerative farming, and ethical landscaping. 

There is an active kitchen garden where you grow all kinds of vegetables and herbs. The perennial vegetables, the fruiting veggies, leafies, climbers, the seasonal varieties and a lot more. In fact, the permaculture kitchen garden is one of the most productive systems on earth when it comes to yield per square meter.

Another key feature of any permaculture farm is the presence of a food forest. An ever evolving, self sustainable tree growing system that appears like a wild forest but the majority of plant species are edible. Here you mostly get all kinds of fruits, spices, and underground crops like roots and tubers.

long with plants, the farmyard animals like cattle, goats, chicken, ducks etc, have an important role to play in the permaculture systems. In Nature, every animal ‘gardens’ if they are allowed to perform their natural roles like earth loosening, weeding, feeding on insects, digging, scratching freely without us putting any pressure on ‘production’.

Just like diversity of species, there is diversity of habitats. Along with gardens, maincrops and food forest, there are water bodies, ponds, streams, rockery, pastures, and most importantly a patch of absolutely wild forest growing naturally in your property.

In an active permaculture farm, you get along with local caretakers, farm labours, workers and supervisors, and they get along with you and your farm. In fact, the locals actively participate and contribute positively to the overall development of the farm.

The main objective of a permaculture farm is that the owner’s family should achieve most of its ‘food self reliance’ through this farm. You get your family's annual supply of grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices from your own permaculture farm. You scale it up to share the increasing surplus with extended family, relatives, friends, visitors, locals and community.

The above information just scratches the surface when it comes to what permaculture is all about. Permaculture is in fact a multidisciplinary, vast topic and you learn as you practice on the field. 

If you wish to design, or re-design your farm according according to permaculture principles. Or if you want our professional advise regarding overall planning and management of your farm activities you can reach out to me.

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-Harshad Ainapure (M.Sc. Botany, SET), Director at Nature First Horticultures.
 Call/WhatsApp: 9326166338/ 8169716382

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Summer Gardening Tips and Activities for Potted Plants (Part 1)

Winter is over; the cool times are gone and summer has already marked its heated presence all over India. If you grow plants at home, you may have noticed that the growth of your potted plants was more or less dormant during the four months of winter. Interestingly, most of the home garden plants end their dormancy and start giving out new growth at the beginning of the warm season, so that plenty of flowers and fruits can be formed during mid-summer. Therefore in order to help your houseplants to grow in a healthy and graceful manner, we bring you following gardening activities that you must take up asap:

1. Loosen the soil thoroughly.

As a home gardener, when you just water the pots for days and months, over a period of time, the pot soil tends to become really hard and compact. This is not a good sign for your plants. In such compact soil, the roots are unable to breathe and absorbing soil nutrients also becomes very difficult resulting in stunted growth. With the help of a proper tool like hand weeder, you must dig the top soil upto 3 to 4 inches and loosen it when the soil is semi-dry. Any unwanted weedy plants should be removed at this point.

Click here to buy potting soil mixtures online in India.

Loosen the soil in pot once a month

2. Provide manures generously.

Since summer is the start of the new growing season, the potted plants are craving for nutrients. It's not a good idea to provide any synthetic chemical fertilizers to the soil, since it may show quick results but can prove to be harmful in the long run. 

After loosening the soil, provide plenty of organic fertilizers like well decomposed cow manure, vermicompost, homemade bio compost. Add at least a couple of handfuls in each pot and mix well with topsoil. Top it up with natural biofertilizers like Ghana-Jeevamrut.

Click here to buy natural fertilizers online in India 

Provide Organic Fertilizer every 15 days

3. Water your plants wisely.

After loosening the soil and adding organic manures the pot must be immediately watered. Avoid watering directly from a mug or a bucket, this can physically damage the roots. It's important to use a 'Watering Can' with shower-head to water potted plants. The water falling on the soil must mimic rainfall rather than single jet flow.

In summers, watering should be done in the mornings. It's better to do proper thorough watering 3-4 times a week rather than daily light watering.

Watering should be in the form of shower

4. Spray the natural medicines timely.

Summers can bring some unwanted visitors to your potted plants in the form of pests and diseases. Avoid spraying harmful chemical fungicides and pesticides on your infested  houseplants. It's better to protect your plants by spraying natural, home-made solutions regularly.

Neem oil in soapy water spray will keep your plants clean and insect free. Buttermilk solution is useful to keep fungus at bay. Gomutra is a very effective fungicide and growth promoter. Natural farm-made solutions like Dashparni Ark and Neem Astra can be used to get rid of existing infestations.

Click here to buy natural pesticides online in India 

Use hand sprayer for misting the medicines on leaves 

5. Manage the sunlight smartly.

In the hot season, you must have a good look at how much daily sunlight is falling directly on your plants. Potted plants kept on an open terrace may require green shade-net protection. For balcony and window plants like Roses, Hibiscus, Tulsi, Chili etc., 4 to 5 hours of daily sunlight is also enough. Succulents and indoor plants will be happy to grow with reflected sunlight or indirect bright light coming from the window. In this season, most potted plants prefer the shady situation between 11 am to 3 pm.

In the next part we will have a look at summer specific care and maintenance tips for your common potted plants.

If you wish to develop your own home garden Or if you want to do monthly maintenance work on your existing plants by our skilled gardeners, click here for more details on WhatsApp, and book/ schedule our home visit.

Click here to buy organic fertilizers, potting mixtures, natural pesticides, growbags, vegetable seeds and lot more on our online shop, Or click here to order our products via WhatsApp catalogue.

Visit our website to know more about Nature First.

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Comment down below and share this blog to people who may find this useful.

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-Harshad Ainapure (M.Sc. Botany, SET), Director at Nature First Horticultures.
 Call/WhatsApp: 9326166338/ 8169716382