Amrut Jal for Plants – Preparation and Usage

In an earlier post I wrote about how to prepare and use Panchagavya. Panchagavya is an excellent pest repellent, foliar spray and fertilizer for your plants. In our garden we use it mostly as a foliar spray and pest repellent. That is because the recipe of Panchagavya calls for a wait period of 18 days, but it can be stored for 2 months time. Hence it is convenient to make one batch of Panchagavya every two months and use small quantities as a pest repellent. For fertilizing the plants we use two other cow dung based solutions. Namely Amrut Jal and Jeevamrut. In this post I’ll be guiding you on how to prepare and use Amrut Jal.

Amrut Jal has been popularized by Prof Sripad A Dabholkar as a part of what is known as NatuEco Farming Technique. But most gardeners I talk to are blissfully unaware of this magic potion. I hope this post will reach out to as many Organic Terrace Gardeners and farmers as possible, so that everyone can reap benefits of this humble yet powerful gift of nature.

How does Amrut Jal work?

I first came to know about Amrut Jal from Urban Leaves blog and decided to try it in our garden. First we tried it on a flower plant that had dried up and had stopped flowering. Guess what! In about fifteen days the plant had started bearing flowers and in about a month’s time it was covered with them. And since then Amrut Jal has been a regular feature in our garden.

So how does it work?

Fresh cow dung not only contains nutrients for plants, it also contains millions of soil friendly microbes. When they are fed well, they multiply. And when you feed the soil with these microbes soil comes alive. They not only improve the structure of the soil, they also start to break down the available nutrients into a form, that can be easily taken in by plants. The process of making Amrut Jal is basically a process of increasing the number of already available microbial life in fresh cow dung of the Indian breed cow.

Amrut Jal Recipe

Ingredients

  1. Fresh cow dung of Indian breed cow – 1 kg
  2. Urine of Indian breed cow (Older the better) – 1 liter
  3. Organic Black Jaggery – 50 gms (can be substituted with 2 glasses of sugarcane juice or six over ripe bananas)
  4. Water – 10 liters

Process

  1. In a plastic or wooden bucket mix the jaggery with some water or urine to liquefy it. The jaggery serves as the food, which the microbes will eat and multiply.
  2. Mix in the cow dung and urine. Use a wooden stick to do the mixing. Alternatively plastic can be used. But do not use any metal to do the mixing. Cow dung contains different type of beneficial microbes. Cow urine contains microbes which help in photosynthesis. It also makes the food more palatable for the microbes.
  3. While doing the mixing stir slowly in one direction. If you stir too violently then you’ll be killing the microbes.
  4. Add in the water, cover the container with a piece of cloth or any other loose cover and leave it to ferment. Make sure that the cover is not air tight. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight and rain.
  5. Stir the solution 12 times in both clockwise and anticlockwise direction using wooden stick three times a day. This helps in distributing the microbes uniformly in the solution. Why 12 times? Well answer to that I really don’t know. But since the recipe calls for it lets stick to it.
  6. From the second day onward you’ll see that the fermentation process has started. On the fourth day the microbial activity reaches its peak. And that is when Amrut Jal is used.
  7. On the forth day for every liter of the fermented solution add ten liters of water and Amrut Jal is ready to be used.

Usage of Amrut Jal

Amrut Jal is best used on the fourth day for watering the plants. However we also use it on 3rd and 5th days. We use it in almost all gardening activities. They are

  1. Watering the plants using Amrut Jal on a weekly basis keeps the soil alive and rich in nutrients.
  2. Spraying filtered Amrut jal once a week or once a fortnight helps in lowering the chance of pest infestation. It is also an excellent foliar spray.
  3. Seed treatment using Amrut jal by soaking for 24 hours before sowing them helps in better germination rate and stronger plant.
  4. Root treatment of saplings for 30 minutes before planting them helps develop a stronger and more disease resistant plant.
  5. Dried leaves or dried sugarcane bagasse is soaked in Amrut Jal and then used as mulch for plants.

How to Grow Radish in Containers… Even in a Plastic Bottle

A single radish plant can be grown in a recycled plastic bottle
A single radish plant can be grown in a recycled plastic bottle

Radish is one super friendly vegetable to grow in small spaces. Hence it is a favorite among people doing container gardening. You can grow them in as small container as a recycled plastic soft drink bottle. Yes you heard me right. You can grow full fledged radishes even in small containers as plastic bottles. All you need to do is to do it in the right way. This post is a complete guide on How to Grow Radish in Containers from seeds to harvest.

Quick Reference Table to Grow Radish in Containers

Coated radish seeds
coated radish seeds

There are many varieties of radishes to choose from. From long slender ones to round ones, from white ones to red ones, the choices are many. Every variety varies in term of optimal growing condition. This table is a more generic table that covers almost all general varieties.

Item Value
Growing Temperature 10 – 28 °C
Germination Temperature 15-30 °C Ideal
Germination Time 3-7 days
Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0
Sunlight Need 5-8 hours per day
Preferred Planting Method Direct Sowing
Container size 3-4 can be planted in a 10 liter containers. Keep 6-8 inch distance between two plants.
Time to Harvest 30-40 days from germination
Harvest Period 10-12 days
Pollination Radish is a root vegetable which is harvested before it starts flowering.
Typical Pests Aphids, Cut worm, Cabbage looper
Best season to plant in India Beginning of winter and through winters

Choosing Container for Radishes

Around 12 radishes can be grown in a 1.5 x 2 ft box
Around 12 radishes can be grown in a 1.5 x 2 ft box

As I told in the beginning of the post radish can be planted any type of container with some minimum depth, so that the root has enough space to grow. You can choose from grow bags, recycled wooden boxes, recycled thermocol boxes, old plastic buckets, recycled paint buckets, recycled plastic bottles (2 liter of bigger bottle works well. Avoid anything less than 1.5 liter bottle), recycled juice or milk cartons or your good old un-glazed earthen pots. To grow radish in containers the choices of containers is endless. Just use a little imagination. And you can recycle many things at your home and grow radishes in them. Just make sure that depending on the variety of the radish, the root will have enough space to grow downwards.

Seed Sowing and Germination

Making a small well for sowing radish seeds helps in keeping the plant straight later
Making a small well for sowing radish seeds helps in keeping the plant straight later

For sowing seeds prepare your container in the morning and leave it in the sun so that the potting mix warms up by evening. For sowing make marks with your finger at the place where you would be sowing your seeds. Now scoop out potting mix from around the mark to make a small well. The depth of the well can be approximately 1 inch. At the center of each well make a hole of approximately 0.5 inch depth. Drop 3-4 seeds in each hole and cover the hole loosely with some potting mix. Water using a watering can. Keep the potting mix moist and make sure it gets sunlight. You’ll have your first few seeds germinate in about 3-5 days. When the saplings are about 3-4 inches tall thin the saplings to just one.

Now you could always sow the seed without making the well. But there is a reason why we recommend making the well. Young radish plant is very frail and tends to bend even in light windy condition. When the plant bends, its root does not develop too well. When the plant is young and has grown to approximately 2 inches of height, the well is covered with potting mix and lightly firmed with hands. This makes sure that the radish plant stands straight and develops a proper root.

Growing Radish in Containers

well formed radish peeking out of the soil
well formed radish peeking out of the soil

Radish is a root vegetable and hence the condition for the root to grow should be kept at optimum. If your pot dries up often the root will not be able to grow well. Hence keep the potting mix moist. But make sure that its not too wet. That will cause the root to rot. If your potting mix is a well drained one and you have made proper drainage holes in the container then you should not have issue of rotting.

Liquid fertilizers work well for root vegetables. Hence use organic liquid fertilizers like Amrut Jal, Jiwamrit, Panchagavya, compost tea once a week to fertilize your radish plants. Keep checking under the leaves once in a while for aphids. If you find them spray them away with jet of water. Alternatively you can use neem spray once in a week to get rid of them. If you find any leaf eating caterpillars of insects just remove them manually. Check for them early in the morning else you’ll never be able to spot them.

Happy looking radish plants growing in a box type container
Happy looking radish plants growing in a box type container

When the plant is frail and young protect is from strong winds. If the plant still bends down straighten it up by putting some soil around its trunk and firming it up making a small mound. Bent radish plant means not well formed radishes. So try to keep the plant straight before radish starts developing. To grow radish in containers this is all you have to do and in no time they will be ready for harvesting.

Harvesting Radishes

When radish roots starts developing it starts to peek out from the soil. So just keep checking how well your radish has grown before harvesting it. When radish plant starts flowering the radish does not taste very well. Hence in case you see any signs of flower harvest your radish immediately. Ideally you should be harvesting radish well before it flowers. To harvest just pull out the radish from your pot. You could wet the soil to make the soil loose before harvesting. And remember to wash your radish clean before consuming them. When you have harvested your radish do not throw away its leaves. The leaves can also be cooked as any green leafy vegetable and let me tell you it tastes yummy.

As radish has a very short time to harvest, you can keep sowing radish seeds once every 10-12 days in your garden. This will make sure you have a continuous supply of radish during its growing season. One last tip to grow radish in containers would be to plant your radish as a companion plant. As radish does not take up too much space it can be planted along with egg plants or tomatoes as a companion plant and you can enjoy fresh radish from your garden without even having to get a separate container for it.

 

 

Pumpkin Leaf Stew Recipe from Odia Kitchen

Pumpkin Leaf Stew
Pumpkin Leaf Stew

In a post earlier on how to grow pumpkin in containers I had mentioned that all parts of a pumpkin plant are edible. A lot of people actually were surprised to hear that. Which naturally meant that many people have never tasted a pumpkin leaf stew before. Which obviously meant that I had to make this post on Pumpkin Leaf Stew Recipe.  This is my mother’s recipe and hence is a great comfort food; simple, nutritious, delicious all at the same time. We generally have it with steamed rice or rotis. But add a little more water, you can enjoy it even as a soup.

Young pumpkin leaves and stems
Young pumpkin leaves and stems

Pumpkin Leaf Stew Recipe

Vegetables are cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
Vegetables are cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces

As the main ingredient here is the pumpkin leaf you have to make sure that you have grown the plant yourself organically. Commercially grown pumpkin plants are generally sprayed with poisonous pesticides and hence its leaves are not at all safe to consume. In case you do not have a pumpkin plant in your garden, just borrow a few leaves and young stems from your friends garden. And in exchange treat her with this delicious stew.

Pumpkin leaves are washed and chopped coarsely with the stems
Pumpkin leaves are washed and chopped coarsely with the stems

Ingredients

  1. Young pumpkin leaves and stems washed and chopped coarsely – 15 to 20 leaves plucked with its stem
  2. Potatoes cleaned and cut into bite size pieces – 2 medium sized
  3. Eggplant cleaned and cut into bite size pieces – 2 medium sized
  4. Pumpkin cleaned and cut into small pieces- 100 grams
  5. Moong Dal washed and soaked for over an hour – 1 cup
  6. Garlic crushed – 6 to 7 pods
  7. Onion cut into small pieces – 1 medium size
  8. Green chilies cut into small pieces – 2
  9. Whole Mustard – 1 teaspoon
  10. Vegetable Oil (or any oil for frying) – 2 tablespoon
  11. Salt – to taste
  12. Water – 2 cups

Method

Heat Oil and add mustard, chilies, garlic and onion
Heat Oil and add mustard, chilies, garlic and onion
  1. Heat oil in a pan or wok.
  2. When oil is hot add mustard, green chilies and garlic pods. After about 30 seconds add the onions and saute till onion is translucent.
  3. Add pumpkin leaves and saute for two to three minutes. This step is very important and never miss this step.
  4. Now add all vegetables and the dal. Mix everything well.
  5. Add salt to taste. Add water and bring it to boil.
  6. When the stew starts boiling reduce heat and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes till the greens and vegetables are soft and tender.
After sauteing the green leaves add veggies and dal
After sauteing the green leaves add veggies and dal

Your Pumpkin Leaf Stew is now ready. Adjust the amount of water if you want it more runny like a soup. Now all you got to do is to enjoy this delicious stew with your friends and family.