The Pineapple Story

A journey of two years..

Pineapples are fairly slow growing Bromeliads. They take about a year or more to mature enough to form a flower. Generally, a pineapple will flower as soon as it is big enough, so the happier it is and the better you look after it the sooner it will flower.

Once they flower, it takes another 6 months for the fruit to evolve.

A Few tips about pineapples before you grow them:

  • Pineapples do not need much water, as they have very tough leaves and do not lose much water through evaporation. 
  • I have planted them on land which is slightly slanting, this prevents water clogging and helps water to drain easily.
  • Pineapples need free draining, essentially a loose fertile soil. 
  • They do not have a big root system, hence do not need much soil or very high quality soil.
  • This plant gets a lot of its water and nutrition through its leaves.
  • Pineapples like slightly acidic soils, which is what most gardens have anyway.
  • They grow in full sunlight, even in the hottest of climates, but they also do well in dappled shade. (Mine are planted in a semi-shade land).
  • Pineapples grow very happily in pots or tubs. Which means you can grow them at home and in your balcony.

What pineapples do not like is:

  • Soggy, waterlogged soils.
  •  Having their leaves burned with concentrated fertilisers. We use all homemade organic fertilisers and natural enzymes. 

    The benefits of eating pineapples are endless and so are the different ways of eating it. It is a versatile fruit that can be enjoyed by just slicing it and garnishing with some “Chaat masala” (Indian tangy spice), or juicing it for a refreshing cocktail. 

A few pieces of pineapple in your regular salad can make it exotic and delicious. My most favorite recipe is caramelizing the pineapple in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Plants that are efficient in repelling mosquitoes and other insects

Mosquitoes are a nuisance. Other than being a distraction, they can also interrupt and spoil the fun of a great evening spent outdoors. They also pose a health hazard in terms of the innumerable mosquito borne diseases that one can catch.


There are several plants, which can naturally repel mosquitoes and other pests. Their fragrance acts as a means to block the receptors of these insects, keeping them at bay. These plants will not protect you 100% from mosquitoes but can help to a great extent.


Here is a list of Plants, which you can grow around your balcony, terrace, deck or garden


1) Lemongrass: Citronella, is a plant oil found in lemongrass. Citronella is a proven mosquito repeller.


2) Any plant with a lemon scent will also help keep insects away, e.g Lemon, Thyme, Lemon balm, or even lemon scented geraniums.

Lemon Grass

3) Marigold: Marigold efficiently keeps mosquitoes away, and also protects the vegetable growing plants from various other bugs and pests. 


4) Basil: While playing an important role in your kitchen, basil also works on keeping mosquitoes away.


5) Rosemary: Prevents all kinds of bugs and flies. Traditionally, roasting or grilling a few sprigs of rosemary, gives out a smoke, which helps in driving mosquitoes away.


6) Peppermint: Has a very strong fragrance, which repels mosquitoes and other pests like ants and even rats.



Music and my plants

I have been farming for a while now and have always attempted to create the best environment for the growth of my plants. Working with the goal that they flourish, I have tried out many techniques and have stuck with those that worked best for both my plants and me. Plants are a lot more aware and sentient than we think they are. Like any other living being, they too grow best in an environment of love and care.

I read that music has a positive impact on plant growth and so I decided to try it out for myself. 

Soon I began to make my plants listen to the Rudram chants on Monday, and Devi chants on Friday. On the rest of the days, I made sure they listened to recordings of the flute, sitar and other soft Indian classical instrumental music. This soon became a routine at my farm.


Now, I do not claim to have any scientific proof that this works, but I know that music has definitely made my plants a lot happier. They seem to be healthier and grow a lot better after this music has become a part of the everyday routine. Plant growth is affected by a lot of factors in their environment. The vibrations produced by music can definitely be one of those factors. It is not that plants favour classical or instrumental music over rock. It is just that the vibrations produced by particular musical sounds, create certain movements in the cells of the plants. Some of these movements prove to be favourable in terms of enhancing the uptake of nutrients, hence making the plant healthier. 


Many experiments have shown an increase in yield from plants because of greater growth activity in the presence of favourable music. A connection can be made here, to the sound of birds chirping and singing for plants. Maybe, they were created with the additional purpose to help plants grow and perhaps that is why plants grow best outside with maximum sunshine and surrounded by birdsongs.

Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, also talks about this in chapter 11 of their book, Secrets of the Soil. When plants are exposed to certain special sounds, they produce more and better fruits. The process is simple but does not have scientific backing even though a lot of experiments have been conducted with plants and music. When exposed to such favourable music, plants are seen to lean towards the music source. When exposed to rock music, they turned in the opposite direction. This was because the vibrations produced by rock music were too harsh. So, there is proof that plants respond to music. However, it is uncertain if music directly affects plant growth since there is no conclusive scientific evidence. Further, it is difficult to control factors like soil composition and the amount of sunlight received to get definitive conclusions. 


I believe that the presence of music creates an environment that reflects the amount of effort being put into the care of the plants. Music is a form of communication which shows love and trust. All of this is perceived in some form by the plants. Maybe it is not just the music but this special attention could be what helps the plants thrive. Either way, the music is a very important tool for me while caring for my plants, maybe it could work for other people too! 


A few links for the music:

1) Rudram Chants 

Album: Vedic Chanting  by Singer: S. Rajagopalsharma

Source: YouTube

2) Devi Chants

All Devi Chants by Singer: Dr. Balaji Tambe

Source: YouTube

3) Sitar Music

Soothing Sitar Rendition by Singer: Pt. Jayeshbhai Purohit

Source: Soundcloud

Essential Wildlife

Nature has its own cycle. Everything is perfect and in rhythm until we humans interfere. We believe that our intellect is capable of bettering everything in the world. We use it to create chemicals and start using these in our little gardens and farms. This is aimed to eradicate insects and pests but ends up damaging the entire ecosystem. These chemicals also kill many essential microbes and bacteria along with other animals that play crucial roles in the food chain, and this can cause a lot more harm than good. This impact is almost always irreversible.

Nature has created its own food chain; one organism eats another to survive. This natural chain is designed to maintain a balance. I have learned this over the years by observing the happenings on my farm. When you actually watch closely with the intention of learning and not interfering, you start to realise that everything in nature is perfect. Every organism has its own role to play. Rats are seen as pests on the farm. They also have a tendency to multiply very quickly. This is naturally controlled by snakes. If there are no snakes then the rats will increase. If the snakes increase, then mongooses will naturally be attracted to that area and help keep the snakes in check. The birds help in keeping a lot of insects in control.     All life is co-dependent. If the balance tips over to one side, nature has its own agents to put everything back in its place. It is just so beautiful to see the perfection of nature.

It is very important to know which pests and animals visit your garden and be able to identify them. Further, it is also equally important to know what they do and how they end up affecting your plants. Some of them can be pests and their actions can be harmful to your garden. On the other hand, there are some which are very beneficial, and they should be encouraged to stay in your garden.


Some beneficial organisms

1) Earthworms -The Earth Movers

Earthworms are best known as the “unpaid workers” of a farm. They play a role of utmost importance in any type of farming and the local breed of earthworms is the most essential part of natural farming. They are in a way, responsible for everything that lives on earth, since the soil forms the base for all that flourishes on this planet. 

These creatures may be little, but they are fierce! Earthworms are toothless and mouthless but have the capacity to incubate a large number of microorganisms in their digestive tract. The soil is their natural habitat and they greatly influence the quality of the soil and play a pivotal role in determining its fertility. Earthworms are not only essential for good farming and agriculture but also lie at the very foundation of all civilization and life on this planet. They are the greatest promoters of vegetation. They help loosen the soil which in turn helps other microorganisms thrive and further aid the enhancement of the soil.  Without these creatures the earth would soon become cold, hard and void of life. The planet would become sterile.

Earthworms are known to produce more compost in a shorter time with less effort than any other matter or organism. Because of the mucus surrounding their body, they can burrow themselves in the roughest of grounds with great ease. This helps in loosening the soil while simultaneously retaining its moisture. Furthermore, they also consume all the nutrients and minerals from the soil. These nutrients are then converted into enzymes by their bodies. The enzymes created are water soluble, and can be easily absorbed by the root hairs of plants.         

Because of all this, earthworms are known as the guts of the soil.

Earthworms are very proficient diggers and can go as deep as fifteen feet into the soil. This helps move the soil around thoroughly. Experiments conducted to measure the benefits conferred by these creatures show that soil with earthworms drain four to ten times faster! On the other hand, earthworms are able to help retain water in sandy or light soils where water tends to drain out through the subsoil. No matter what kind of soil you have, earthworms are your friends and they are here to help. 


2) Bees 

Bees play a very important role in pollination. Besides giving us honey, pollen or royal jelly, the most essential role of these bees is to pollinate hundreds of vegetables, fruits, and oilseeds. 

Assassin bug

3) Assassin bugs

They are predatory insects and are of great benefit. They eat many different types of bugs, mainly larvae. 

4) Spiders

They build delicate webs, which trap many pests and insects which these spiders then consume. 

5) Wasps

They destroy pests by laying their eggs in them.

6) Ladybugs

They should be the most welcomed pests in your garden. They eat larvae, aphids, scales, and mealybugs. 

7) Common Toads and frogs

They live in the pond during summer. But for the rest of the year, they will be all over the farm feeding on pests, insects, snails, and worms.


8) Chicken and ducks

Eat insects and slugs and their droppings are essential manure for your garden.   

9) Birds

Are a very essential part of the ecosystem. An abundant and natural habitat will not only have a large number of birds but also a variety of species. Though birds help in controlling pests, they can sometimes be a nuisance, especially when orchards are full of fruits. I keep my trees covered with nets when they start fruiting to protect them from the birds.  


Some of the pests that need to be avoided and kept away

1) Aphids 

2) Earwigs

3) Borers

4) Slugs

5) Spider mites

6) Sawfly larvae

7) Grasshoppers

8) Fruit flies

9) Thrips

10) Mealybugs


Humus is the heart of the soil and forms the basis of agriculture. It is one of the irreplaceable pillars of farming, so every successful farm is dependent on humus for its flourishing. Do not confuse this humus with the delicious dip as this one is not nearly as appetizing, at least not to people. Humus is, however, the food stock for crops. It provides the much-needed richness to the soil and defines the fertility and prosperity of the soil.

Humus is created due to the decomposition of the dead bodies of all living beings. These include but are not limited to, plants, animals, and other microorganisms in the soil. Continual microorganism activity is a necessary feature of any good humus. The humus, in turn, helps nourish all the plants growing, by greatly improving the quality of the soil. The entire system functions due to the parallel processes of creation along with decomposition. Humus is created by continuously mulching the soil. For creating good quality humus, we recycle everything back to the soil.             This means we use all the shreds of the trees, the straw, the residue of all the crops, the plucked weeds and mulch, and put them to use together.   The only way to increase the humus in the soil is to mulch, mulch, and mulch again. The more you add organic matter to your soil, the more humus will be created. It is undeniably a rather slow process, but a promising one.

My personal experience with experimentation and farming has been very extensive. In the past, I have tried many techniques to condition my soil. Some of these methods were very heavy on my purse including some expensive organic manure. I even tried vermiculture. It was expensive and complicated. None of these methods sat well with me until I came to a realization. This realization changed everything. I finally saw that I did not need to get anything from outside. Everything I could possibly use, was available on my farm. I just had to recycle it back to the earth.

It is like a never-ending cycle. It simply requires me to give back to my soil everything it has given me. This basically translates to us collecting all the dried leaves, straw, hay, left over of all the crops, wood and twigs which can be converted to sawdust. All these raw materials have the potential to become good humus. However, the main ingredient that transforms all these into humus is the Indian cow’s dung and urine. One layer of the Indian cow dung mixed with all the other organic matter works as a culture and increases the count of microorganism activity in the soil.   The more I increase the quantity of cow dung in the soil, the greater the activity of microorganisms. This results in the creation of a lot more humus. The day I started to use the Indian cow dung as a culture was the day on which all the magic began.

The cow dung helps in many ways. One of them is by activating the microorganisms in the soil, which mainly refers to increasing the number of local earthworms. The earthworm is the most valuable player in the process of natural farming. There are many recipes for natural fertilizers created by the brilliant masters of the organic farms’ culture in India. Most of them use Indian cow dung and urine as an activator of culture.

The process of making humus is very mystical. It is a method which uses death to create life. All the waste matter from farms, which would otherwise be abandoned as trash is instead utilized to give rise to life. All that was given by the earth, including the so-called waste material, goes back to the earth and it turns into this black gold known as ‘Humus’.

All I do is create a ring around my trees; the diameter of the ring is the size of the shadow cast by my tree at 12 noon. This is where the roots of the tree are. The circumference of the branches of the tree is equal and parallel to the roots of the tree. We make a ring on that same circumference line, dig up a little and create a cavity. Inside the ring, we keep mulching with all the organic ingredients and farm waste. Along with this, we sprinkle a thin layer of Indian cow dung and again cover it with mulch. As I said, this is where the roots of the tree are. The roots essentially work as the mouth of the tree, from which the tree will receive all its nutrition. This layering is a continuous process. The water sprinklers and rainwater helps in the breakdown of these ingredients and preparation of humus.

Some of the benefits of creating humus in your soil are as follows

1) Humus helps improve the overall quality of the soil. It refines the texture and increases its water absorption power. One of the most important functions of Humus is to improve infiltration and drainage.

2) It acts as a mediator between the elements of the soil and the crop.

3) It is a prominent source of nutrients and energy for the soil. It helps in the supply of nutrients like phosphate, sulphur, hydrogen, oxygen, etc. to the plants. All these nutrients are deposited in the humus by decomposition of proteins and other organic matter, which are introduced from the residue of the crops. Humus makes these nutrients available to the plants so it can be absorbed through its roots.

4) Humus helps make the soil rich. It helps in improving the productivity and fertility of the soil.

5) It is the most important source of nitrogen for tall trees.

6) Cattle and other animals which live on the fodder cultivated through the use of hummus, are stout and healthy. They have a higher resistance to illness. The quality of their dung and urine is of superior quality, which in turn helps in improving the soil conditioning.

7) Plants that are grown in adequate humus are naturally healthier and have a higher ratio of surviving and combating diseases.

8) Humus is like a big layer of sponge that can hold up to 80% – 90% of its weight in water.

This large capacity to hold water helps keep the soil moist for longer.

(However, it has to be mulched time and again and needs to be kept covered with a large layer of mulch, to protect the microorganisms in the humus from the harsh climate and environment).

9) Essential nutrients like ammonia, calcium, get stored in the sponge of the humus. This prevents them from being washed away in the rain, and this, in turn, improves the essential nutrient supply to the plants through the plant root. It acts as a continuous source of natural fertilizer to your plant.

I have personally seen the brightness and lustre improving in my crops because of the humus.

My plants feel fresh and healthy. To me, they look happy. When the humus quantity in my soil is adequate, I feel my flowers are richer in colour and aroma. My garden is lush green and my orchards are bountiful. The great effects of humus are seen almost instantly on my crops. Both the quantity and quality of my produce is better. My vegetables and grains are healthy, excellent in taste, and balanced in nourishment. It helps in increasing the soil fertility as well.

The process of Decomposition

One of the most important processes for the growth of a plant is the process of decomposition. Most of the nutrients received by plants are due to this vital process. 

All dead matter including animals and plants that have dried and fallen down with their leaves, stems, flowers, fruits as well as all waste material, starts to mix with the soil. The soil which is moist and full of microorganism like earthworms, bacteria, fungus, etc., helps decompose this organic matter.

In the process of decomposition, the dead plants and animals along with all their waste materials are acted upon by agents in the soil. All plant and animal matter is broken down and this matter subsequently starts releasing all the nutrients which were previously stored in their bodies.   These released nutrients are made available to the roots of crops, plants, and trees growing around.

This means that the nutrients released back into the soil by plants were initially absorbed by the very same plants. And after death the decomposition process helps them release the same nutrients back into the soil, making them available for new plants. This is the magic of the nutrient cycle. 

Composting methods

Composting is one of the most fundamental aspects of organic farming. It is the process of recycling nutrients and organic matter and thereby enriching the soil. It helps the soil self-sustain to a large extent.

Fortunately, it is an easy and inexpensive method. Most of the ingredients used are either human or natural waste materials. Basically, things that we deem to be “waste”, help sustain the soil.

Types of organic matter that can be used for the process of composting.

1) Kitchen waste

All kinds of kitchen waste can be collected and used in the form of compost. Collect all peels and scraps of vegetables from your kitchen and add them to the compost pile on a regular basis. I use everything from orange peels, banana skins, melon rinds, to even crushed egg shells. Nothing goes to waste. I keep a small bin next to me while working in the kitchen and keep tossing all this organic waste into that bin. At the end of the day, the contents of that bin are added to my compost pile.

2) Garden waste

Nature has its own rhythm and cycle. The plants, trees, and orchards keep shedding themselves regularly. All of this can be used as mulch. Leaves are packed with nutrients. After they are shed from trees, they should be worked into the soil to improve its quality, texture, and structure.

3) Hay, straw, dead plants, and crop leftovers

All of these are usually available on my own farm. I have had large pits made in certain areas and all dead plants and crop leftovers are put into these pits. The plants waste is layered with fresh Indian cow dung manure, which activates the process of decomposition.

4) Poultry manure

I do not have poultry on my farm, so poultry manure is collected from an organic, free-range poultry farm. This is then used on the garden lawns and also as a layer on the compost pile. Poultry manure is free of weeds and is packed with nutrients. It is a very high source of nitrogen. Adding fresh poultry manure to the compost helps in speeding up the decomposition process. 

A word of caution here, poultry manure is hot in nature and can burn the plants if it is not composed properly. Always check the weather before using it.

5) Indian cow manure

This is the absolute hero of my blog!

I have tried many things out and after experimenting with lots of organic matter, I have finally learned that cow dung is the simplest and best manure one can use on the farm.

A lot of research backs why Indian origin cow dung is better than the manure made from the droppings of other cows. I have tried a few experiments on my farm, mainly because I did not have Indian cow dung available at times. My experiments did not fail. My plants responded well and got healthier with the use of other cattle dung as well.

However, even then I noticed that the Indian cow dung gave the best results. The earthworms were seen earlier and in larger quantities. The humus was richer and formed faster. The mulch would decompose quicker. All this meant that the microorganisms become active sooner and the decomposition process was more intensive.

I will be putting up more articles on the benefits of Indian origin cows versus Jersey cows, soon on my blog. But as of now, according to my experience and observation, Indian Origin cow dung is one of the best manures you can use.

However, when it is not possible to do the best thing, do the next best thing. Use any other type of manure. The droppings of cows, buffalo, sheep, goats, horses, anything available to you. All of this will give you positive results and it is always better, cheaper, safer and more effective than ready-made composts available in the markets.

If you are gardening at home, in a city where it is not possible to make your own compost, then feel free to buy ready-made compost mix available at any garden supply store. However, refrain from using any fertilizers, growth promoters or growth enzymes which are usually encouraged by garden stores. These interfere with the DNA of your plant and denature them. Try, as far as possible, to keep it simple and keep it Natural.

Composting Tips

  1. Keep the pile moist.
  2. Keep the pile covered with dry mulch all the time.
  3. In summer, or in very dry and hot weather, keep sprinklers on the pile, spraying at intervals, to keep the pile moist.
  4. Avoid using any chemical fertilisers, enzymes or activators. Use only natural amendments.
  5. Be patient, nature has its own cycle.


Once you have planned what you want to grow, the next step is to pick your seeds.

There are mainly 3 kinds of seeds available in the market. These are categorized based on the method of reproduction in plants.

1) “Open Pollen seeds“, are formed when pollination is not regulated in any way. When natural agents such as insects, birds, humans, wind or water cause pollination among plants, the process is known as open pollination. Due to the lack of restriction on the agents causing pollination, open-pollinated plants end up being more genetically diverse. This means that the variation in traits is greater among the plant population, thereby allowing for better adaptation.

It is important to keep pollen from other varieties of the same species from coming into contact with the open-pollinated plant. Only this will result in a seed that can grow a plant genetically very similar to its parent, thereby giving rise to uniformity in the species. However, improvement in the characteristics of plants under open pollination can only occur over many generations by careful examination and selection of the best plants and seeds.

Open pollination is less expensive than other methods. Further, it takes a shorter time to complete the process. The biggest benefit to open pollination is the ability to create one’s own seed supply. It requires less expertise and can be done by almost anyone. You just have to identify the best plants from your patch and save those seeds!

2) Hybridisation, is a controlled method of pollination. There is nothing unnatural about it, it is just directed by humans so that the pollen of two different desirable species or varieties is crossed. This process can occur naturally when open-pollinated plants simply happen to cross-pollinate with related varieties of the same plant. However, hybrids are often commercially created in order to breed desirable traits.

The primary advantage of hybrid seeds lies in the ability to cross two different but related plants.

This means that their genes will be a lot more varied and the new plant can have more desirable traits as compared to plants created through open pollination.

When two plants are crossed in such a controlled environment, the first generation of offspring’s, known as the F1 generation grows best. They yield a lot more crop and the desired trait is most visible in this generation. This phenomenon is known as hybrid vigor.

The biggest disadvantage of hybridization is that one must keep purchasing new seeds. This is because the seeds produced by the F1 plants are not true to type. This means that the seeds give rise to plants that may not necessarily have the same traits as the parent plant. This defeats the purpose of hybridization as those desirable traits are not present anymore. Thus, keeping farmers dependent on hybrid seed producing companies.

3) “GMO-stands for a genetically modified organism”. Genetically modified (GM) seeds are specifically designed to have certain desirable traits. How are these different from hybrid seeds? For one, GM seeds are produced when the DNA of species that could never breed naturally, like a specific bacteria and potatoes are manipulated and combined. The resulting seeds will grow into plants that can survive without much water or are resistant to heat or certain diseases. For example, in an area with a lot of pests, resistance to insects will be a highly desirable trait in a plant.

Unlike open-pollinated or hybrid seeds, GM seeds require sophisticated and expensive techniques like gene-splicing for their production. When it comes to GM seeds, plants are not sexually bred but rather combined through recombinant DNA technology. The desired trait such as pest resistance is identified in nature and the gene for that trait is isolated and subsequently transferred into a new seed. The seed should now give rise to a plant which is resistant to pests. The plant is tested to ensure safety and once it has been approved, it is made available in the market.

Naturally, the benefits of GMO crops can be varied. They can use water more efficiently, yield more crop, are pest and disease resistant, their fruits have fewer seeds etc. However, since GM seeds are relatively new, they are an unknown science. Nobody knows enough to conclude how they affect us or the environment and their behavior over a larger period of time cannot be determined. They could be producing a host of unknown side effects that may be discovered only once it is too late. Furthermore, producing GM seeds results in the production of new toxins in the environment. GM crops can hurt the ecosystems and reduce bio-diversity. This also occurs because GMOs require a lot more pesticides and chemicals to grow.

Open pollen seeds on the other hand offer a more sustainable alternative. Open pollen seeds can be saved year after year and they make farms more self-sustainable. They have no unknown harmful effects. 

I use Open pollen seeds and am working towards making my own seed bank.

Soil and Soil pH

What is soil? 

“This is where food begins”.
The soil is that layer of the earth in which plants grow. The quality of the soil plays a very vital role in the growth of the plant. After all, every plant thrives or dies due to the nourishment it receives from the soil. The soil forms the basis of all human, and in fact any kind of life. The quality of our living and our health, whether it is healthy or unhealthy, depends a lot on the condition of the soil. This is because, directly or indirectly, everything we eat comes from the soil.

Like all natural / organic farmers, I have a particularly close relationship with my soil. I value and more importantly, respect my soil. I try to be as aware as I can of the living ecosystem of organisms, minerals and organic matter present in my soil.

Good quality soil is essential to growing healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables.
Every farmer should understand the complexities of the soil’s ecosystem, in order to develop and maintain healthy soil. Understanding your soil will help you create optimal conditions for soil growth and consequently for plant growth.
The soil has its own world of microorganisms, worms, minerals and organic matter. These organisms interact with each other in the presence of water, and in turn, they generate all the nutrients that the plant needs in order to survive.
Anyone who has ever engaged himself in farming or gardening, recognises that the quality of soil can change the outcome of the harvest.

Understanding your soil type
(If your garden is blessed with the perfect soil than you are really lucky.)
But that may not be the case with many. It is important to know your soil type as it is the basis on which you can choose the plants that will naturally grow there.

There are 4 main soil types

1) Sandy Soil
2) Clayey Soil
3) Silty Soil
4) Loamy Soil


It is known as ‘light’ soil. It feels dry and gritty to touch. The particles have huge spaces between them and are hence airy. Sandy soil is loose and easy to work with. However, due to its airy nature, it cannot hold on to water, causing the soil to dry up quickly. This soil is found to be low in nutrients and is generally more acidic in nature than other more fertile soil types such as loamy or clay.

How to improve the condition of Sandy soil.

a) Mulch around the plants, using leaves and other organic waste from your garden like hay, straw, barks etc. The mulch will help retain the moisture in the soil and eventually assist in keeping the soil humid and cool.
b) Add 2-3 inches of organic matter to the soil annually.
c) Work on the soil regularly with cow manure as well as urine, this will eventually condition the soil with a natural growth of microorganisms and earthworms. This will slowly improve the overall condition of the soil.


Clayey soil is generally known as a “heavy soil”. The particles comprising the soil are very small and are tightly packed. They have a good water retaining capacity.
The drawback of this soil is that it is very hard to work with. The particles are so tightly packed that they can clog together, hardly leaving any space for air. In summer, the top few inches of this soil can dry out completely, making the surface very hard. This soil is, however, prone to be very rich in nutrients and minerals. The soil has a good water retaining capacity and can prove to be very productive once you improve the texture of the soil.

How to improve the conditions of Clayey soil

a) Work on the soil annually using 2-3 inches of organic matter.
b) Mulch with a light covering. Make sure it is a weed-free straw which will help in retaining moisture, especially in the summer.
c) Avoid tilling, especially when the soil is wet. This will compact the soil.
d) Use permanent raised beds made from organic matter. 


This kind of soil has much smaller particles than sandy soil and is very smooth in texture. It is generally the result of weathered rock and is irregular in shape. When moistened, the particles are soapy and sticky. Due to less pore space between them, they retain water, resulting in poor drainage. There can be major water logging in silty soil during the monsoon months. However, the soil also retains nutrients and is very fertile compared to sandy or clayey soils.

How to improve the condition of Silty soil

a) Work with at least 2-3 inches of organic matter on the soil.
b) The soil has a tendency to be compact, so avoid trampling or walking on the garden beds.
c) Raising the beds will help in improving drainage.

Note: Avoid growing root vegetables in this soil, as they will have to struggle to push their path through the heavy, compact soil.


This is the most desirable type of soil and is a pleasure to work with. It is dark and rich, and you fall among the few lucky ones if your soil features under this category. This is an intermediate between sandy and loamy soil. It is the most fertile kind of soil and can hold water well and provide good drainage. It is an excellent soil to grow most plants in and is very easy to work with.

Due to its nutrient and water retaining capacity, loamy soil is highly fertile and packed with all essential nutrients.

Maintaining the condition of loamy soil

a) Mulching will always help, especially during the summer or dry weather.
b) Conditioning the soil with organic matter once a year ensures that the quality of your soil is maintained.
c) Rotate crops to keep the N.P.K. balance in check.

Tips to keep your soil fertile

  • No matter what your soil type, condition it with organic matter like homemade compost, made from Indian cow manure. Organic matter works to improve any and every kind of soil. If your soil is heavy and dense, the organic matter will help in breaking it up and improving the drainage as well as the air circulation. And in the case of sandy soil, the same organic matter will improve water retention along with nutrient retention. I do this once a year to all my vegetable beds. It also helps in maintaining a good pH level for most vegetables.
  • Raise livestock (especially Indian origin cows) on your farm. (Or find a way to get organic manure for your farm).
  • Rotate the crops.
  • Add humus.
  • Mulch, mulch and mulch, this is the best food for your soil.
  • Use only homemade natural pesticide or fertilizers for your plants.
The magic ingredient , Indian cow’s manure


It is important to know and understand the pH level of your soil before you begin working on it. The pH level of the soil determines whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. Most plants have a distinct preference to one type of soil or another. However, most prefer a neutral level of pH 7. The soil is known to be acidic when the pH level is between pH 1 to pH 6.5 and is alkaline when its range is between pH 6.5 to pH 14. Most plants, as well as earthworms and other microorganisms in the soil, prefer a pH level between 6.5 to 7.5. It is important to get a pH level test in order to test the pH of your soil.

The plant receives all its nutrients from the soil through its roots. Most essential plant nutrients are soluble if the pH level of the soil ranges between 6.5 to 7. If the pH level of your soil is higher or lower than this range, the soil nutrients start to chemically bind themselves with soil particles and the roots are unable to absorb the nutrients. This, in turn, has a negative impact on the health of your plant.

Improving and maintaining the pH level of your soil between 6.5 to 6.8, will improve the fertility of your soil. However, this is a slow and gradual process and cannot be expected to be achieved overnight. Working generously with organic matter, especially after the monsoon season, will help maintain a good pH balance in your soil.

A regular feed of homemade Jivamrit, (Link to Recipe), helps in maintaining the overall condition of your soil.
The ideal pH level for growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables should be within the range of 6.3 to 7.5. This is also most ideal for earthworms and other microorganisms, which are constantly working to help your plants and improve the quality of your soil.

Once you have your soil tested, you can work on naturally balancing your soil with organic matter to achieve a desirable pH balance.

Vegetable Garden For Small Spaces

Although we all wish to have a large space for growing our vegetable garden, the reality is that we have a space constraint in most cities, and urban areas.
However, this should not stop you from cultivating a tiny corner or green patch for yourself. It could be a small balcony, a corner of your terrace, a small back yard or a tiny courtyard, there are always a few plants suitable for your space.
Just make sure you build your soil fertility by making or using natural compost and also rotating your crops.

Picking the plants suitable for your space could get tricky. The variety is huge and one can get overwhelmed with choices. However, it is always a good idea to start with something simple. Something that naturally grows in that habitat.
Do not try any foreign vegetables in the beginning as they will require more skill and care.

Few points to look at when planning your garden

1) Pick the vegetables that you love to eat and can grow locally.(Do not pick a foreign plant).

2) Pick vegetables that have a repeat harvest. Pick the ones which yield high productivity and a good nutritional value.

3) Pick plants that have more edible value, where you can consume the vegetables, leaves, stems and even the roots.

4) Pick plants which do not take a long time to mature, and have a long fruiting period.

5) Avoid vegetables that take up more space. Example:- Large headed vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

6) Pick vegetables that will take less ground space and climb up like tomato, aubergine, chillies.

7) Locally grown herbs and leafy vegetables are very fulfilling to grow as they harvest very quickly.

8) It is important to rotate the crop. This helps in nourishing the soil and helps in preventing diseases and pests.

9) Growing microgreens is very easy and fulfilling. These can be added to you salads, sandwiches, curries and smoothies.

What I Grow And How I Choose My Plants

Being a natural farmer, I try my best to follow the course determined by nature. Setting aside my own interests in terms of what I want to grow, I aim to choose only that which naturally grows in the area. I call this non-discriminating and natural farming. 

My farming attempts to reduce human interference and I do not used any adulterated formulae. I grow only what my land is naturally designed and best suited to grow.

For example, some plants like cauliflower or lettuce, just do no like heat. Any attempt to grow these on my farm in summer would be futile. Other plants like tomatoes and most Mediterranean plants, cannot stand humidity. If it is too hot or humid for them, then the plants experience unnecessary stress. Because of this, they attract bugs, just like we humans attract colds and flus when we are stressed out.

A stressed plant will not have the immunity to fight the bugs of this unfavourable environment it is forced to grow in. Their condition is further aggravated when we humans, meaning well, attempt to counter the attacks of pests, with unnatural and violent means, like spraying chemical fertilizers. But for us, this would be the easiest and most obvious way to protect our crop.

I do agree that all vegetables and fruits face the danger of being attacked and they all need precaution and care. But when they are grown in their natural rhythm and environment, the chances of attack are far lesser than on the ones which are artificially grown. The plant itself is stronger and therefore, much better equipped to fight the pest attack.

Having said that, vegetables that are biologically closet to their wild abcestors are the best in terms of flavour and highest in nutritive value. Owing to this fact, itis ideal to know the natural or seasonal plant cycle for the entire year and plan your annual farming calendar accordingly.

There is a rhythm to everything. In the universe, everything is in perfect unison until the human mind interferes. For example, the Ratnagiri alphonso mango, tastes best when grown in Ratnagiri. It is naturally sweet and at its nutritional best. The problem begins when people want to grow it in another place, where neither the soil nor the weather compliments its natural growth. In such unfavourable conditions, one starts playing around with the soil and also giving rise to an artificial environment.

We try to control everything. We infuse chemicals, enzymes, and artificial enhancers and yet we can never match what is originally grown in Ratnagiri! Without realising it, we do more harm than good. What happens in the process is that what we want to grow, in this case the Ratnagiri mango, is not itself anymore. It is a modified version of itself, raised with chemicals or in a controlled, artificially created environment. This imbalances the natural state, (condition) of that fruit or vegetable and it is no more healthy and nutritious. Upon consumption of such fruits and vegetables, there is an imbalance in our body chemistry.

The greater this imbalance, the more one craves for unnatural foods. This is a vicious cycle and completely hazardous for health! Hence, it is important to keep all these factors in mind while picking what to grow.

It is advisable to check with your local nursery or gardener on which plants are good for the season you plan to start your garden. While deciding which plant to grow, it is also “essential to choose the root type,” depending on where you will be growing your plant. In case the location for your project is a balcony or terrace, where you plan on growing the plants in pots, it will be a good idea to pick plants with “Fibrous roots” as they are softer. At the very least, avoid “Tap roots” as they may crack the flooring and cause leakage.