I had always wanted to have palm trees at my farm. These trees are called ‘Eecha Maram’ in Tamil and I love them for three reasons. 1) They look beautiful. 2) I love the taste of their fruits. 3) They are sturdy.
Surprisingly though I could never get the saplings in any of the nurseries. I had visited lots of nurseries with no luck. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find dozens of the palm saplings growing on the road side just a short walk from my farm.
I marshalled up my men and we began to unearth these saplings and transport them to the farm.
Seen here is Sekhar (our farm caretaker) and his son Satish, digging up a young sapling.
We found the older saplings to have a bigger root bulb and roots. This means there’s a better chance for the plant to survive the transplantation.
We packed them up in the trunk of my car and transported them to the farm.
Sathish and his elder brother, Mathi, bringing in the newly uprooted palm saplings. We dug holes and let them cool overnight. Experience has taught us never to plant in the evenings because the soil is still warm from the afternoon sun. Its always better to plant in the mornings so that its sufficiently cool.
We planted all of them in front of our house. Am really hoping that the nine saplings we transplanted survive and thrive.
Last weekend, I traveled to Bangalore on work and took advantage of the extended weekended to do things that I had long wanted to do.
I wanted to visit farms similar to what I’m trying to create. I always felt that the best way of learning is by looking at the real thing and speaking to the person who created it.
On 13th August, I drove to Vanashree farm along with a friend of mine. I had already written to Srikanth, the owner of the farm, about my quest and he was only too eager to help me out.
Srikanth took me on a tour of his farm and this particular video was shot when we visited his Banana farm. He explains why its best to let nature take its course and when one does that, it gives out better yeild.
This is a particularly useful video where Srikanth explains that neatness is not particularly a good trait for a farm. What may look unkempt and disorderly is actually nature’s way of being efficient. Also, from this video, you’ll notice what a small amount of land can produce. Keep a keen eye on the different crops grown between the plantain trees.
NOTE : You can learn more about my farm and the lessons I learn everyday on farming at http://Kiruba.com/farm
Here’s a short video of the 7 acre farm as it stands now. Remember, this land has been unused for the last 30 years. So, it needs a lot of work to get it back in shape.
The old villagers tell me that during my grandfather’s time, this used to be such a fertile land and regularly has bountiful harvests of paddy, sugarcane and brinjals.
After decades of neglect, the land right now is filled with thorny bushes and some well grown to be trees. These will have to be removed using bulldozers (JCB). The chopped trees make for good firewood and is used for baking bricks in the brick kiln. Yes, we also make our own bricks.
The trick is in the timing of cutting these trees down. These must be cut only a few days before the brick kiln is ready to be burnt. If you cut earlier, then the wood dries up and loses its calorific value. Also, not cutting it is a good way to avoid pilferage. So, we have cleaned about a quarter of the land and the rest will be cleaned up after a few months.
This is the tree that I planted last year along one side of the farm. When I picked this up from the nursery, I had no idea what it was but just took the word of the nursery owner that its a good one to have in the farm. Boy, was he right?
The first thing that I liked about the tree was that it grew really fast. Second, it has beautiful layers of branches and it look great from afar. It offers wonderful shade. But it really caught my attention when I tasted its small red fruits, the same size as a cherry. It was wonderfully sweet and tasty.
Later I came to learn that its called Singapore Cherry Tree or the more appropriately titled ‘Jam Tree’. In Tamil, its called ‘Nei Pazham’ (translated to Ghee Tree) for when its crushed, it has the same consistency of ghee. Thanks to my college classmate Abhay Vohra and my uncle, Giri Kumar, for identifying this tree which even the locals didnt know.
Its seeds fall to the ground and lots of small saplings grow. It reproduces quickly and its easy to transplant these into newer areas. No need to buy new ones. What more could one ask?!
While we were hunting for the wooden pillars for our farmhouse, we came across this astonishingly big sized tree trunk at a saw mill near Tindivanam.
As soon I saw it, I felt a twinge in my heart. How could someone have the heart to chop down such a magnificent tree?
But then, its easy to see the irony. As Dilip had pointed out, it doesn’t make sense to feel bad for a chopped tree on one hand and on the other buy fancy wooden pillars for the house! That’s llike supporting PETA during the day and enjoying mutton biriyani during night!!
All I know is that I thoroughly enjoy the process of creating something from the scratch. If that involves trees, my passion since childhood, its even better. Now, on with the project!
The challenge is to grow 1000 trees and these should be 100 different varieties of fruit and flowering trees. As you can see its a challenging project. Tough but very doable. I’ve helped set up a wiki to list down all the varieties. Would seek your help in suggesting the ones that are missed out. You can either add it directly to the wiki or just leave as a comment in the comment section below. Thanks in advance.