Addicted to your daily keerai? Hema Vijay tells you how to grow them fresh and free at home
A successful start makes all the difference to kitchen gardening. Growing greens can give you that crucial beginner’s high for a whole bunch of reasons. Greens are easy to grow. Greens grow very quickly. Besides, they are highly nutritious and useful to have at hand as a quick-fix menu solution because they can be used in a variety of dishes. Also, while other vegetables get exposed to pesticides predominantly in the outer skin, greens get a greater load of pesticide per unit mass because of their leafy nature; so it is particularly advisable to grow your own supply of greens.
There are dozens of greens to choose from, but start with a few easier varieties such as mint, which can be grown easily by planting stalks or sprigs after harvesting the leaves from it; methi (fenugreek leaves), which sprouts easily from the seeds in your spice box; agathi greens, pasalai, mulai and thandu keerai, all of which are loaded with nutrients and grow voluminously and really fast, giving numerous harvests from a single sowing.
Coriander, of course, is a must. Drumstick of the dwarf variety, whose leaves are loaded with proteins, minerals such as potassium and calcium, and vitamin C, is also easy to grow.
For the potting mixture, use a mixture of river sand, organic manure, and soil in a 1:1:1 proportion, with a layer of mulch like coco-peat or coconut husk-dust on the surface to reduce evaporation and keep the soil from getting too heated up. Sprinkle water twice a day; spray organic growth stimulants or manure once a fortnight, and herbal pesticides, if needed, every now and then. Make sure your greens get good exposure to sunlight. If your plants seem to be affected by excessive heat seeping in from the soil, place them on insulating material such as thermocol or a horizontal cane grid. Now, sow your seeds or saplings and get set to reap fresh organic greens once every few days.
In case you are stuck, tap a local nursery or garden shop for advice, and get going again. After a few cycles, you will get tuned to your plants’ needs and know just what to do.
Greens get a greater load of pesiticide per mass unit, so it's advisable to grow your own