Green for the winter

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Miguel Braganza

Whether rabbits really love carrots, I do not know. The rabbits, that we had at home when I was a child, ate everything that was tender and fresh, especially green vegetables. I know that my wife loves carrots. It is not just salads, soup, and stew that have them; she even makes wonderful carrot cake. I know that for sure: we celebrated 35 years of married life yesterday. Multiply that by 365 days each year and just ten per cent probability of having carrot in one of the dishes that day and you know how certain I am about the statement. I love radish – not the reddish radish – but the fully white ones, and no one can beat the beetroot for iron content.

Until a decade ago, I believed that one could not grow carrots in Goa. Then came Yogita Mehra and she grew carrots in Taleigao. Later, my former student Siddhi Prabhugaonkar grew carrots on a commercial scale in Kalay Farm of the Directorate of Agriculture. Now there are young farmers growing it commercially in the Dharbandora taluka. Therefore, carrots can be grown in both the regions of Goa, coastal and foothills of the Sahayadri range of the Western Ghats. So can beetroots and their leaves are an interesting micro or baby green that imparts a red highlight to a tossed salad.

Root vegetable seeds must be sown directly where you want them to grow until harvest. Transplanting is not a good idea unless you raise the seedlings in a root trainer seed tray and transplant without disturbing the root at all. The soil should be loose to permit the easy penetration and swelling of the root while inside it. It is ideal to dig the soil about one foot (30 centimetres) deep and then make raised beds about 15 centimetres high and 30 centimetres wide. One can sow a single carrot seed per spot in rows 10 centimetres apart and 10 centimetres from either edge of the raised bed. Staggering the two lines, so that the seed in one row is opposite the midpoint between two seeds in the other row, provides better utilisation of the space. Use the same method for radish and beetroot. You can begin harvesting from 30 days after sowing.

It is not difficult to raise seedlings of chillies, tomatoes, brinjals, knoll-kohl, cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli. Shwetakshi Mishra has explained the process of testing germination at the Sunday webinar series of the Agricos Alumni Association, Goa, and its video is now available on YouTube. The students of Urban Gardening will tell you more about organic gardening alongside the agriculture alumni and professionals every Sunday afternoon from 4 to 5 p.m.  Join in and learn from the next generation

Vegetable seeds are sold by the Goa Directorate of Agriculture through its twelve Zonal Agriculture Offices or the private seed sellers who now operate online or do home deliveries. The sale of seeds is on. Hurry, buy the seeds, share extras with friends and neighbours, start gardening and sharing notes. Grow green together.