Friday, 23 November 2018

How to grow and harvest cabbages in containers - Organic gardening tips - chapter 5

Mark Twain once said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” This antioxidant and nutrient-rich vegetable is a great addition to any garden!

Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable, very rich in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. Growing cabbage in containers is easy for gardeners with little sunny garden space. However the cabbage doesn't like summer heat. So it needs to be planted in early spring or early autumn. Cabbage thrives in cool weather.

Cabbage can be grown in containers at home either using seeds or saplings, although procuring the saplings is not that easy. We need to know where we get good saplings grown organically. If you are growing the cabbages using the seeds, then they need to be spread over in the pot and covered with a layer of organic manure. This will facilitate germination as well as the early growth of seedlings. The seedlings would be ready for transplanting in about 4 to 6 weeks when they’ve grown 4 to 6 inches tall.

Please read my other interesting posts about gardening tips and tricks :

1. Organic gardening method - How to grow veggies in a very very small place
2. Organic gardening medium - How to grow easily without soil and with less water

3. Organic gardening plants - What all the vegetables we can grow in 10x10 area 

4. Organic Manure composting - How to use your kitchen waste directly in your pots to compost and prepare organic manure

We can purchase a cabbage transplant at a garden center or nursery. I got the saplings from the nursery where I buy the organic manure. The gardeners there are so benevolent and helping natured that every time we go there to purchase the organic mixture, they give some 10 saplings each of whatever vegetables they are growing during that season, free of cost. So far I have got brinjal, chilli, tomato, cabbage and cauliflower saplings from them. And since these saplings are grown in healthy organic environment, the vegetables grow in healthy abundance from these plants.

We have to dig a hole in the center of the container and plant the cabbage plant in the hole, deep enough such that the second leaf is just above the surface of the soil. And then pat the soil firmly around the stem. We need to use a container with a drainage hole. The important care we need to take is placing the container where the cabbage is exposed to sunlight for at least six hours daily.

A container with a depth of 12 inches and a diameter of 18 inches is large enough for one cabbage plant. Admittedly I am a very greedy gardener and in each of the paint box I am having in my garden, I had already planted minimum 2-3 varieties of plants and they are snuggling with each other and growing without any complaints! Trust the nature to teach us about every aspect of life!!!

So as I had filled all my paint boxes with plants and there was absolutely no place for my cabbage seedlings. So I cut the plastic rice bag into half, filled it with organic manure and planted the saplings. I even have planted some in ordinary plastic bags and they are almost ready for harvest.

We need to check the cabbage daily, as the potting soil in the containers dries quickly, especially during warm weather. So we need to water the plant daily and see to it that the saplings and the soil never get dry.

Taking care of the Cabbage plants

As I am growing the vegetables without any outside manures, I add the kitchen waste like vegetables' and fruits' peels, coffee and tea decoction powder and egg shells to the organic manure which are helping to get rich yield.

Cabbage is a delicacy for a variety of pests. Slugs, snails, cabbage worms are some of the pests that bother my cabbage plants. Foliage damaged with holes indicates that pests are present. To ward them off, I use neem oil. I mix one teaspoon of neem oil in one liter of water and spray on my cabbage plants once or twice a month depending upon the situation.

Harvesting the Cabbage : 

When the outer leaves have fully opened up and the cabbage head becomes firm, it is an indication that the cabbage needs to be harvested. Harvesting of the cabbage from the plant is to be done when the head feels firm and solid.  As shown in the video, using a sharp knife I cut the heads when they are firm. We have to trim the outermost leaves and leave inner stalks and roots in place to produce tasty little cabbages. And then we need to apply turmeric at the place we have cut the head and cover it with plastic in case it is raining. From here we get another set of baby cabbages which take another month or so to grow. We can eat them like Brussels sprouts or let them develop into a second crop of small heads.

Please don't miss to watch the video here where I have explained the tips of growing cabbages in containers in home garden.

Happy Gardening.....

Friday, 16 November 2018

Paan Mukhwas - Paan Mouth Freshener - Ready to eat Paan
Who wouldn't like to have a sweet tasty paan after a sumptuous meal? In fact a heavy meal always calls for a tasty paan.
And paan is not just for digestion or as a mouth freshener, from health point of view also the benefits of betel leaves are multifold :

1. Analgesic. Betel leaf is an amazing analgesic that offers relief from pain.
2. Eases Constipation. Betel leaf contains the goodness of antioxidants.
3. Improves Digestion.
4. Reduces Gastric Pain.
5. Increases Hunger.
6. Promotes Oral Health.
7. Treats Respiratory Problems.
8. Relieves Cough.

The list goes on and on. Added to this, there are other benefits of the limestone or chunna which gives the required calcium to our body.

But instead of keeping the betel leaves and making the paans, the Mukhwas or ready to eat paan can be prepared which can be preserved for more than a month.
I prefer my Paan Mukhwas more with a flavor of cloves and pacha karpoora (edible camphor) than with the gulkand and tutti frutti because we generally eat the paan after heavy meals with sweets and again having a sweet flavoured paan fails the purpose.
I have my own version of Paan Mukhwas which is full of flavours and absolutely irresistible.

And here goes the recipe:

You may also please check our yummy,tasty and very easy to make sweet recipes here :

Kajjaya - Atirasa - Anarasa

Fried gram laddu and sesame seed laddu - Nagara Panchami sweets

Preparation Time : 10 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 15-20 betel leaves
  • 2 tbsp roasted fennel seeds (saunf)
  • A pinch chunna - lime stone
  • 2 tbsp lightly roasted desiccated dry coconut
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder (elaichi powder)
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 or 2 small pieces of Pacha karpooram
  • 1 tiny piece kachu (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon flavoured supari

Instructions :

  • Wash and dry the betel leaves thoroughly and cut the stems.
  • In a thick bottomed kadai lightly heat the betel leaves after applying a little ghee. Let them cool.
  • Then in mixie jar add all the above items and grind to a coarse mixture.
  • Here if you prefer sweet flavour, you may add little gulkand. 
  • If you like, you may add - Muskmelon - kharbuja seeds now.
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • It can be stored in refrigerator upto 2 months.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Bisi Bele bhaat powder

Prep Time          : 15 mins

Cooking Time    : 10 mins

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup coriander seeds/ dhania
  • 1/2 cup urad dal / uddina bele
  • 1 cup chana dal / kadale bele
  • 100 gram byadagi menasinakai or Red chillies 
  • 10 guntur chillies
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds / jeera
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seed / ellu
  • ½ tablespoon black pepper / kalu menasu
  • 1-2  green cardamom / elaichi
  • 3 inch cinnamon / dalchini
  • 6  cloves / lavanga
  • 2 teaspoon poppy seeds / khus khus
  • 1/4 tablespoon fenugreek seeds / methi
  • 1/4 cup curry leaves / karibevu
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida / hing
  • 1/2 cup of dried desiccated coconut / ona khobri turi

You can also check our other Masala Powders here :

        Sambar Powder 
        Garam Masala Powder

        Rasam Powder

        Vangi Bhaat Powder

        Huggi Masala Powder

Instructions :

  • Roast to  a golden brown the coriander, cumin and fenugreek, chana dal and urad dal.
  • Then roast fry the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, cardamom and curry leaves till they become crisp. Remove and keep aside.
  • Now dry roast the dry red chilies with a teaspoon of groundnut oil till they become crisp. keep aside.
  • Finally roast the desiccated coconut / dry coconut to a golden brown.
  • Let the roasted spices cool and then grind to a fine powder adding little asafoetida.
  • You can prepare this fresh powder while making the Bisi bele bhaat or prepare in advance and keep in an airtight container and use upto a month or two.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Organic gardening tips - chapter 4

Organic Manure Composting at Home

Growing and cooking your own food is like printing your own money - Ron Finley

Yes. The urge and the passion to grow our own veggies and flowers, having our own garden is always there in all of us. There can be no human being whose eyes won't turn soft or whose heart doesn't sing whenever he or she looks at a beautifully grown garden.

The major deterrent for having our own garden, especially in cities, is the absence or the lack of adequate space. However where there is a will, there's a garden. With some smart alternative methods, we can grow our own veggies and flowers even in a very small place with bare minimum expenses and with limited time and energy.

I have given organic gardening tips about easy methods of growing varieties of healthy vegetables and flowers here in my blog :

1. Organic gardening method - How to grow veggies in a very very small place
2. Organic gardening medium - How to grow easily without soil and with less water
3. Organic gardening plants - What all the vegetables we can grow in 10x10 area

Please go through the above tips about the organic medium, where you will get tips about where to purchase the big paint boxes and the organic manure and how to plan your garden.

Now I would share with you how to grow healthy plants with kitchen waste as manure.

I have been growing variety of flowers and vegetables through organic method since last two years and I haven't spent a single rupee on manure but my plants are growing as if they are on steroids.

When we are growing the plants in organic manure without using soil, adding the kitchen waste is very easy as the growing medium is extremely light and very easy to maintain.

People generally compost the kitchen waste to prepare the compost manure. No doubt it's very useful for our plants, but the method involved can be tedious and time consuming. Then there are problems of having separate space, the menace of flies, mosquitoes and other insects and also the time required to keep monitoring the process.

Instead what I do is whatever kitchen waste like peels of flowers and vegetables, tea and coffee decoction powder, egg shells and other kitchen waste is available at home, I go on putting it in a covered bucket near kitchen which gets filled up within three to four days.

The organic manure I use to grow plants is very light, easily separable and the biggest advantage is no weed grows on it so it's always very neat and clean.
So I separate the manure with my bare hands or using a garden tool and take out half of the manure outside from the pot. Then pour all the kitchen waste in the pot and spread it evenly. And I put back the manure I have taken out from the pot and press it lightly. Lo and behold, the process of making healthy organic manure has started!

I have more than 50 pots at home and generally I fill the pots with kitchen waste once a week. So by the time the turn comes for the first pot to get the kitchen waste, whatever waste I have filled previously would have turned into black gold - pure organic manure. The happiness of the plants on receiving the healthy manure is seen to be believed. Within a week they would be well nurtured and the growth of the plants, flowers and vegetables is more than doubled!

The biggest advantage here is since the kitchen waste in the pot is fully covered with my growing mix and lightly pressed, there is absolutely no problem of insects or bad odour. Only thing we have to take care of is never add the onions and garlic into this kitchen waste. It's not that we can't use it absolutely, but there are certain dos and don'ts - pros and cons - of using the onion and garlic. That's for another class!

Suppose your kitchen doesn't generate as much waste for whatever reason, there is no need to worry. During the dry season, trees shed lots and lots of dry leaves which make ideal material for manure. I generally visit a park in the morning during this season. The sweepers would be more than happy to fill your bags with the dry leaves!

And then there are temples where priests would be taking out the flowers from the idols and would happily hand over them to you for your garden.
Or else the vegetable vendors would be left with many dry, rotten vegetables with them everyday and instead of throwing them, they would be more than willing to share them with you for a nominal price. Not just a smiling flower in your garden, you will see a smiling thanking face here too! See there is a solution for every problem. Otherwise it won't be called a problem!

I have shared here the video about how I go about adding the kitchen waste to my plants. Please watch the video to get a clear picture and you would find it very very easy to follow.

And please don't forget to share this post so that many more gardeners would be benefitted and they would be happy to learn and implement these tips. Not just growing our own veggies and flowers and fruits, let's make our mother Earth blissful!!!

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Neer Dose

Neer Dose - Crispy Neer Dose with a twist
Preparation Time : 30 minutes
Cooking Time.      : 10 minutes

Ingredients :

4 cups Rice
2 cups grated coconut
Groundnut oil 1/4 cup
Salt to taste

Preparation :

  • Wash the rice and soak in water for about 6 to 8 hours. You may soak them overnight if you are making the Dose in the morning.
  • Mix the soaked rice and coconut and grind to nice paste.
  • Add lots of water so that you have a running batter. The consistency should be like buttermilk.
  • Heat a non stick tawa.
  • With a ladle pour the batter on the tawa and simultaneously rotate the tawa with your left hand holding the handle such the the batter spreads all over the tawa.
  • If the holes are formed in the dose it's an indication that the consistency of your dosa batter is right. You may add a little water to adjust. The holes in the dosa make it crispier and also the dosa would look great.
  • Sprinkle few drops of oil all over the dosa.
  • Keeping the gas on high flame all the while, cover the lid on dosa.
  • After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid and take out the dosa.
  • There is no need to flip and cook on the other side.
  • If you want your dosa crispier, keep the flame on the high and leave the dosa on the tawa till it turns very very light golden brown.
  • The Neerdose is generally prepared soft but the crispier version also tastes yum.

  • These dosas are to be eaten hot but if you are preparing more dosas all at a time, take care not to put the doses on one another else they will get stuck if you have made them soft.
  • No doubt the Neerdose are generally made in plain and simple version as above, I also make them in different versions to break the monotony.
  • You can mix any of the finely chopped greens like methi leaves, coriander leaves, Dill leaves, fried methi seeds powder, very very thin and nicely chopped onion or onion paste.
  • Or you can mix fine green chillies paste sauteed in tadka to give another twist.
  • Let your imagination run wild and make any other version.

And don't forget to let me know which one you liked the most.

Also try some of our these delicious recipes :

Kerala Paratha with Mixed Vegetable Curry