I have spent the last few days brewing a terrific stink! Usually Anilodharani is the sweetest smelling place. We have champaka, roses, jasmine – wild and domestic, angelonia, tithonia, water lilies, even thorny acacia and papaya flowers, perfuming the air all around. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the delightful smells. But no longer.
A few weeks ago I realised we had reached a plateau. Our trees and shrubs have established themselves, but many are refusing to make the leap from surviving to thriving. Several citrus trees, 8-10 feet high, haven’t begun flowering yet. Time for a catalyst! First, we sprinkled some rock phosphate powder around the roots. Then came Project Jeevamrutha.
Jeevamrutha is a well known biofertilizer used by organic farmers, made of cow dung, cow urine and water, plus small amounts of jaggery and besan, all mixed together and fermented and stirred for 3-4 days. I also added some banana peels, which are supposed to be rich in potassium.
This is the large terracotta urn in which I made the Jeevamrutha. I got it from a lovely pottery shop in Harohalli, on Kanakapura Road. It was a heartening experience to meet the enthusiastic young couple managing the shop and the kiln – the latest generation, I guess, in this 55 year old family concern.
At first this brew just smelt of cow dung and cow urine – quite pleasant to most people. But as each day passed, it got a little more obnoxious. Now, on Day 8 (I started distributing it to the plants on Day 4), it’s so foul that it has Topshe running excitedly from tree to tree, while I’m reeling from the fumes. The worst part is, I can’t get the smell out of my nose. As I stir it with a long pole three times a day as advised, I find myself staring into the murky depths and remembering the three witches chanting bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. I remember, too, Mrs. Sinha, my amazing English teacher in Class 10, who made Macbeth come alive for us. Meanwhile, Srini has taken to calling it the Jeevan mrutyu, which translates to living death. With all this insult and injury, it had better do the plants some good!
Speaking of stinks reminds me of an old joke – When Hitler entered the room, the skunk left.
Now, to get away from the topic of stinks, here’s some good news: the first palash of the year is ablaze!