What’s the difference between farming and gardening? My understanding is that it’s a question of scale, from which follows the consumption of the produce, whether it’s domestic or commercial. Going by my own definition, we are no farmers, we are at best marginally successful gardeners. On the other hand, four acres is rather large to be a garden, and the three fields of millets and pulses we grow aren’t your typical garden plants.
From all the frivolous nonsense posted on this blog, you might think we do no actual work. Not true! I put in at least four hours manual labour every morning. The hubby is quicker to down his tools and slope off. (In the afternoon, as befits our retired status, we loaf.) We plant trees, sow seeds, tend the vegetable beds, mulch, water and weed, and lug manure and good red soil (bought) to the fruit trees.
Two months ago we harvested our groundnuts.
Right now, my urgent daily task is picking moong and urad and drying the pods.
As no one around us grows moong and urad, I had to learn from this website and, since it advocates the use of chemicals, make up the organic approach for myself. These little red caterpillars are proof that it’s organic, but no one seems to have told the poor things about camouflage.
We’ve just harvested our ragi and have left it to dry in the field for a few days, tempting fate, elephants and wild boar. (We hear a herd of 70 elephants crossed the border into Karnataka last night, and everyone is heaving a sigh of relief – except of course the Karnataka farmers. Still, what’s a border to the doddavarus? They’ll cross back soon enough.)
The intercrops, jowar and avare, are still standing in the field. We aren’t getting much of anything, mostly because the rains failed at a crucial time. I hope to have enough for next year’s seed, and then some surplus.
On the positive side, we have learnt to dig holes deep and wide enough for a coconut tree; and have planted a new lot of them. Our vegetables are thriving, and the fruit trees are growing.
Importantly, we have learnt to plant everything near a honge tree, which means it’s getting rather crowded there. Soon after we started this practice, a young friend of ours told us that in South America, the glyricidia, another nitrogen-fixing tree, is known as madre de cacao because cacao trees are grown in its shelter. We now call our two honges the madre de everything of Anilodharani, from cacao and avocado to pepper and impatiens.
Topshe and Punk are happy, too. Punk seems to be growing a halo, though he hasn’t eschewed chewing us to bits.