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Grow it yourself

Miguel Braganza

The carnival and Shigmo are over and the coronavirus is here. Those who have not yet started growing vegetables at home are willing to pay any amount for them but no fresh vegetables are available on home delivery. The vegetables in the farmers’ fields are getting wasted because there is no labour to harvest and no permit to transport. Those who are harvesting on their own and selling by the roadside have been able to earn good money in their neighbourhood. The radish, knoll-kohl, palak, cabbage, brinjal, cowpea and yard-long beans are much in demand. The coronavirus is going to alter the markets as we know them now. It is time to prepare for the long haul with some perennial vegetables.

We already know that we can also have some permanent vegetables like the moringa or drumstick. Besides the drumstick pods, one can cook its flowers and fresh leaves to control diabetes and obesity. We are also familiar with the Basela or vauchi bhaji. The New Zealand Spinach is a perennial plant that also tastes like vauchi bhaji of Basela. The multivitamin plant or sweet leaf, Sauropus androgynus, is common in China and southeast Asia including Malaysia and has perhaps travelled from there to Kerala, where it is known as ‘Madhura cheera’. The plant is relatively new to many
in Goa.

The multivitamin plant makes a wonderful hedge with its multiple, slender and upright stems. It can grow up to three metres height but is generally trimmed at about one metre. The slender branches bear dark green oval leaves that are about five-centimetres long, often with a silvery streak along the midrib from the base to the leaf tip. It is one of the most popular leafy vegetables in southeast Asia because of its high yields and good taste. It has remained relatively unknown in Goa.

The most important garnish is coriander which does not do very well in Goa. Saw-tooth coriander or cilantro, Eryngium foetidum, also known as Mexican coriander is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, but is now cultivated worldwide. The residents of Verlem, the hilly ward of Neturlim village in Sanguem taluka, first showed the plant to me in October 2014. It is quite difficult to find the difference between cilantro or the regular coriander in a chutney with grated coconut. It is a plant that we can grow in a pot right in our kitchen and harvest the leaves when needed. Quite a few people have been growing this plant. It was even exhibited at the last ‘Zaddamchem Fest’ in Socorro by at least two residents of Porvorim

Seedlings can be raised from the seeds in dry chilies that are used for curries in the kitchen. Transplant the seedlings when they have five or six leaves and grow a single plant in a 12-inch diameter pot in any sunny spot. It is great to see young adults growing vegetables at home and some even in fields close to their homes. It is the shape of things to come. Global markets, banking, travel and food chains are no longer going to be the same. In seventy years, March 31 is not the end of the financial year. Do not have illusions that the old normal will come back to you by the end of summer. Grow up now and begin growing vegetables.

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