Now that we know a little bit about farming, the farming systems practiced in India and the types of crops grown here, let us move on to how a common man can grow vegetables and fruits.
Anyone who is passionate about growing fruits and vegetables can do so whether on a farm or in their own backyard or terrace. All it needs is passion at the core and some hard work initially.
What is the importance of fruits and vegetables?
Vitamins √ √
Minerals √ √
Fiber √ √
Prevention of diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, √ √
Lowers cholesterol, BP, Obesity, blood sugar √ √
Water content √ √
Energy √ √
Rich in Potassium, vitamin C and folate √
Good for people of all ages for health and growth √ √
Nourishing and filling √ √
Developing healthy eating habits and including more fruits and vegetables in your diet helps you in the long run compared to eating junk food. Junk foods contain sugar that gives you instant energy, but it wears out as soon as it comes, whereas fruits contain natural sweetness that gives you energy for longer periods of time. The fiber in vegetables helps fight obesity and bring down body fat drastically.
Fruits and vegetables help children grow healthy and stronger, whereas junk food and sweets cause only cavities and other harmful illnesses. Fruits and vegetables are essential for the body in many ways such as improving your eyesight (Vitamin A from carrots), potassium from bananas that makes you stronger and immune, growth and development of bones, skin color and texture, hair growth and texture, nails, water content for the body and so much more.
You can eat about two portions a day of fruits in your daily meals and about a bowl or two of vegetables along with legumes, yoghurt, milk and salads. For a healthy body and therefore a healthy lifestyle, including as many fruits and vegetables as possible in your daily meals. Start your day with a fruit, preferably a banana and see the wonders it does o your energy levels. In a day, you need a combination of protein, natural sodium, naturally sweet, minerals, vitamins, etc. to keep you going throughout the day effortlessly without getting tired.
Include salads in your snack time, instead of munching on chips or fried foods, as salads not only fill your stomach but provide water content for the body to help the blood flow and relax the muscles. Raw salads and vegetables are a great means to lose weight as well. Even children can eat salads and sprouts to grow healthy.
You can make yummy and simple fruit salads as well or include them in custard for example, as interesting ways to include fruits in your daily diet as well as for your family. Organic fruits and vegetables are also in great demand as they are devoid of pesticides or synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. So not only are fresh fruits and vegetables in demand, but the organic variety has caught on across the world in a big way.
Fruits and vegetables are also beneficial as preventive measures for most common ailments as well as to fight major diseases. For instance, citrus is a preventive measure for the common cold. A daily dose of lemon juice keeps colds away and this is much needed in today’s times of increasing pollution levels and adulteration in foods. Leafy vegetables have high iron content and keep you stronger and healthier. Avocado has immense benefits such as vitamins, potassium, folate, some protein and healthy fats.
A handful of nuts a day keep the sugar urges away as nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, etc. A lack of magnesium gives you the urge to eat sugar and this can be prevented by eating a handful of nuts daily. It also helps the heart function better. There are many such benefits of eating healthy and making small lifestyle changes for a better and healthier you. Each fruit, nut and vegetable has its own list of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Image source – https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
Before we begin explaining how to go about growing fruits and vegetables, let us first understand what types of fruits and vegetables are grown in India.
Types of Fruits grown in India –
This is not the entire list but a list of the important/common fruits grown –
Amla, Apple, Apricot, Asian pear, Avocado,
Banana, Betel Nut, Breadfruit, Buddha’s hand, Burmese grape,
Calamondin, Cape gooseberry, Carambola, Cashew apple, Cattley guava, Ceylon gooseberry, cherry, coconut, custard apple,
Goji berry, grapes, guava,
Indian almond, Indian prunes
Jackfruits jam berry, jamun, java apple, jujube,
Lemons, lime, lychee,
Malay apple, mangoes, melons, Mysore raspberry
Nanking cherry, nutmeg,
Papaya, Pakistan mulberry, passion fruit, peach, pear, phalsa, pineapple, plantain, plum, pomegranate,
Rambutan, Roselle fruit
Sapota, Surinam cherry, soursop, star apple, star gooseberry, strawberry, sweet lime,
Watermelon, wood apple,
Types of Vegetables grown in India –
Artichoke, ash gourd, asparagus, aubergine,
Beans, beetroot, bell peppers (green, yellow and red), bitter gourd, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, bottle gourd
Capsicum, celery, cluster beans, corn, cress, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, cucumber,
Lettuce, leeks, leafy vegetables
Mushroom, mustard greens,
Parsnip, peas, potatoes, pumpkin,
Radish, rhubarb, ridge gourd, shallots, spinach, snake gourd, sweet potato
Watercress, white gourd,
Beginners guide to farming vegetables and fruits on a farm –
⦁ Start small always if it’s your first time and plan your budget. That way you will get an idea of how well you are able to manage and grow fruits and vegetables.
⦁ Be clear on what types of fruits and vegetables you would like to grow before you can randomly plant stuff.
⦁ There are some easy to plant vegetables and fruits if you would like to start simple and be sure that they grow. Some such varieties of veggies are salad leaves, potatoes, peas, mint, onions, radishes, leafy vegetables. Leafy vegetables can be grown in a pot at home as well. For example, if you wish to plant fenugreek leaves, just throw in some fenugreek seeds which you may already have at home into a pot with soil and water it daily. Soon methi/fenugreek leaves will start sprouting. Try other such leaf varieties too. Fruits such as berries are easy to grow too, especially tomatoes. This can easily be done in your backyard. Other such easy options are curry leaves, chilies and so on.
⦁ Choose your plot size properly with adequate sunlight, and soil that is fertile. Check our earlier articles on choosing types of soil, climate, etc. for plants to grow. A beginner could choose a plot size of 16X10 feet and make rows to organize your plants better.
⦁ Space your crops such that they can grow well with plenty of room but not too much. Corn seeds need a lot more space than others. Plants that are placed too close together, compete for sunlight. Hence space them wisely
⦁ Buy and use only good quality seeds. In the plot size mentioned above, you could grow beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, spinach, turnips, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
⦁ You could grow marigolds to discourage rabbits
⦁ Be prepared for initial losses as you are not an expert. Be patient. Invest low and put in manual labor and your own efforts to maintain the garden. Issues such as weeding, maintaining plant health, using the right kind of fertilizers or manure, etc. will have to be dealt with by you as the beginner. Brace yourself for all that may crop up, other than just the crops. But having said that, patience and hard work always pay off. Do not expect too much too soon. Give yourself a learning period to make mistakes and to learn from them.
⦁ Ensure your garden gets adequate water and sunlight too. Too much sunlight can ruin the plants and too little as well will hamper the growth.
⦁ Start with vegetables as compared to fruits. Once you are confident with veggies, you can try your hand at fruits as well.
⦁ Get help from friends if needed and most importantly plant what you enjoy eating
How Much to Plant (for a Family of 4)
Asparagus 40 Plants Perennial
Beets 10′ Spring and Fall Crop
Broccoli 5 Plants Cool Season Crop
Brussel Sprouts 5 Plants Cool Season Crop
Bush Beans 15′ Succession Plant
Beans, Pole 3 Poles Single Planting
Cabbage 5 Plants Spring and Fall Crop
Carrots 10′ Succession Plant
Cauliflower 5 Plants Spring and Fall Crop
Chard 5 Plants Re-Grows after Harvesting Outer Leaves
Corn 15′ Succession Plant and Multiple Varieties
Cucumbers 2 hills Single Planting
Greens 10′ Spring and Fall Crop
Kale 5 Plants Single Planting
Leaf, Lettuce 10′ Succession Plant
Onions 5′ Single Planting
Peas 10′ Succession, Spring and Fall
Peppers 3 Plants Single Planting
Radishes 5′ Succession Plant
Squash, Summer 2 Hills Single Planting, Multiple Varieties
Tomatoes 5 Plants Single Planting, Multiple Varieties
Turnips 10′ Spring and Fall Crop
Image source – thespruce.com
Beginners guide to farming vegetables and fruits in your backyard or terrace –
⦁ Firstly, remember the limitation of space and then decide what you want to plant
⦁ You can start with a container if you do not have terrace garden space. You can grow most varieties of fruits and veggies in a container but choose your container wisely depending on what you intend to grow
⦁ There must be an outlet for water. Sufficient water and sunlight are required to grow indoor or balcony plants. Keep these factors in mind before starting
⦁ Again choose good quality seeds
⦁ Climbers will need a pole or a rod support. Similarly, you can grow vertical plants such as cherry tomatoes, melons, peas, cucumbers, strawberries, herbs, potatoes, etc
⦁ If your backyard garden is big enough, you can grow raised beds which a square foot each. These are beneficial for beginners as you can control and manage weeds easily, get an extended growing season, get better drainage and so on. The beds could be ideally 18-24 inches deep, but you can decide based on your availability of land area
⦁ Whatever type of garden you choose to make, make sure your soil is aerated, free of stones and rubble, rich in organic matter, etc. Plants need soils are slightly acidic. You can test your soil at home with simple tests to check the pH levels.
⦁ You can grow any number of fruits and vegetables at homes such as strawberries, pineapples, zucchini, tomatoes and many more such varieties.
⦁ Herbs such as basil, oregano, mint, fenugreek, rosemary and much more can easily be grown at home in containers.
⦁ Just be sure to check on your plants daily to see if they have been infected by pests, or need de-weeding, watering, etc. Sometimes till the soil a little so that plants grow better. Use the right manure, compost, or organic waste to help improve plant health.
⦁ Remember compost needs to be applied a few weeks prior to growing your garden at home. Spread it evenly over the area to be cultivated
⦁ Get some basic gardening supplies such as a rake, if it’s an outdoor garden, a spade to dig the soil, a watering can, and gloves as the very minimum requirement.
⦁ The challenge of growing a home garden is keeping birds away such as pigeons. Pigeon poop is harmful to the plants as well as for humans. So find ways and means to keep pigeons away from your garden. They also tend to destroy the garden by plucking or sitting on the plants.