Trying to figure it out

We haven’t grown much on our farm this year. Vegetables, yes. And we’ve planted perhaps 50 or 60 trees of various species. But crops, no. This is because I’m confused. Excited but confused, with all the reading I’ve been doing.

I am working my way through every book and article on natural farming and permaculture that I can lay hands on, and have been introduced to so many new ideas that I’m reeling. Foremost among these ideas are ‘no tilling’ and ‘weeds are friends’. An absentee farmer can only do so much, but a confused absentee farmer is a stymied farmer.

Also, around our farm, more and more land is being cultivated. Areas that were semi-wild or fallow five years ago are now assiduously ploughed, and this means pesticides and chemical fertilizers as well. I shudder to think what this is doing to our ground water.

All this makes me even more reluctant to plough my land and remove the last bits of wildness in the area. (My husband is both tolerant of my confused state, and mortified by our unproductivity. In any case, until he retires next year, he is more or less a sleeping partner. And does he ever sleep! Kumbhakarna could take lessons from him.)

Hopefully the fog will clear as I read, think, and try to sort out our position vis-à-vis the land and its other inhabitants. Speaking of other inhabitants, have I mentioned our neighbours, the pachyderms? Here is a photographic record of a visitation we had last year.

Paddy field before the visit

Rice plant2

And after…

Paddy field after

What big feet you have, grandma!

Yanai footprint measured

And they’re off!

Yanai footprints4

Last weekend, there were some pleasant surprises awaiting us. The two wing bean plants that have been growing for four months, with nary a flower to be seen, have suddenly erupted into… the weirdest beans you ever saw! This is what they look like, on and off the plant.

Wing beans

Wing bean harvest

And they taste as delicious as they look! Also starring sabsige soppu (dill weed) and methi (fenugreek).

Next, an elephant foot yam (chenai kazhangu/ suvarna gadde/ suran) that we had planted months ago suddenly came to life. At first it looked like an alien from outer space,



and then it gradually unfurled itself into this handsome palm-like creature!


Fully unforled yam plant

Now can anyone tell me how long to harvest, and what to look out for?

And before I go, here’s a riot of yellow and blue (cosmos and jacomentia, growing up a thorn tree) that is a positive feast for the soul. To all of you out there.

Hill with yellow and blue flowers


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