By Zahrah Nasir
Q: I recently relocated to Islamabad from Karachi and wish to grow vegetables in my garden. Is this the right time? If so, please recommend three or four easy to grow ones and how to go about their cultivation.
A: Yes this is the perfect time to put in some vegetable seeds. At this time of the year it is best to grow your vegetables in a sunny position. You could start out with peas, carrots, spinach and lettuce which are all reasonably simple to grow. Peas, spinach and lettuce all do well in soil that has had lots of old, well-rotted, organic manure worked into it, whilst lettuce requires the same but with some river sand added to ensure good drainage.
Picture Source: Google
Peas should be sown half an inch deep and an inch apart to obtain strong plants and they will need supports, such as trellis-work or canes to climb up. Spinach and lettuce seeds should be sown, very thinly, about quarter of an inch deep, in rows four to five inches apart and lettuce seeds, these are very fine, thinly just under the soil surface, in rows six to 10 inches apart. Carrot seed, once again the seed is very small, is best sown thinly, just under the soil surface, in rows no more than six inches apart. All should be kept weed-free and watered regularly.
Q: I would appreciate your comments on my quick organic fertiliser recipe: One cup mustard/cotton oil cake powder. Half cup dry alfa powder. Half cup wood and paper ash. Half cup wood powder. Four or five powdered egg shells. Three to four rusty iron nails. Use 50/50 with soil.
A: Firstly I do not personally recommend the use of either mustard or cotton oil seed cake in the garden. Much better to use ‘bagass’ which is residual organic material from sugar mills. I am puzzled by ‘alfa powder’ unless you mean dried, ground up alfalfa which is fine. The wood/paper ash is good, as are the powdered egg shells; iron nails are good too if they are small ones and if you take care to bury them deeply in order to avoid accidents.
By ‘wood powder’, I presume that you mean sawdust. Fresh sawdust heats up as it rots down and will burn your plants and their tender roots. It should first be composted down and, only then used in the garden. It would be interesting to know how your plants have reacted to your fertiliser as detailed. Experimentation is great, please keep it up and growing organic is the best way to proceed.
Q: I have been nurturing an ivy creeper which finally developed roots and climbed the criss-cross wooden frame alongside my bay window. Over a period of five years the plant covered the whole structure and looked beautiful. Unfortunately, all of a sudden the leaves started yellowing and falling, leaving a large area bare. I thought that the tube well water — laboratory analysis says it is unfit for human consumption — could be the cause so I switched to normal sweet water praying that would help. The plant does appear to be developing new leaf buds but I am really worried about what to do.
A: Your ivy sounds gorgeous and you are commended for getting it to do so well. It is good that you stopped giving your ivy the tube well water as it sounds as if this was the problem.
The fact that, after switching over to sweet water, the ivy shows signs of growth is very encouraging and I think that patience should be exercised now. The plant should re-grow in time.
Q: I have a problem with my fig tree in Islamabad. The leaves are yellowing and falling. What should I do?
A: This tends to happen during periods of high summer humidity or rain and is absolutely nothing to worry about at all.
Q: I am trying to grow bananas and pomegranates but neither bear fruit. The leaves of both get so badly damaged by strong winds that they die. I recently added organic fertiliser to the soil and I water regularly. How can I improve their condition please?
A: Cultivating bananas and pomegranates in a windswept location is asking for trouble. The only solution to the problem is to erect wind protection, the type depending on the size of your garden.
Q: Is avocado a remedy for arthritis? Is it possible to purchase the plants in Karachi or do I need to look elsewhere?
A: Eating avocadoes will not cure arthritis but a poultice made from the bark and leaves is, it has been claimed, helpful in the treatment of rheumatism. I do not know if avocado saplings are now stocked in Karachi nurseries but I doubt it. Avocadoes grow into huge trees and both male and female are required for them to fruit. The climate of Karachi is not really suitable for their cultivation.
Source: The Dawn, InpaperMagzine
Published on: 10/15/2012