The one-day course (Kannada and English) costs Rs. 300 a person.
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TO AVOID using vegetables sold in Bangalore that are sprayed with insecticides and pesticides, you would want to grow your own fresh, healthy veggies. But with space such a premium in the city, there's hardly any room to grow a garden.
The Association for Promotion of Organic Farming (APOF) has come up with a solution to this problem. It conducts training programmes in both Kannada and English on urban horticulture and terrace gardening at the Veterinary College campus, University of Agricultural Sciences, Hebbal. According to R. Kantharaj, secretary of APOF, the one-day course is conducted once in three months. Advertisements are placed in the newspapers and about 50 people are admitted to the course, which costs Rs. 300 per head and is held between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
APOF teaches farmers and consumers the methods to grow and consume healthy, nutritious food. Organic farming techniques such as building up soil fertility are taught for sustainable production, using local, natural resources with minimal external inputs. Organic farming aims at reducing loss in production and helps farmers get higher returns.
To begin with, all practical aspects about organic farming are taught. These include preparation for the pot, basic contents such as sand, vermicompost, when and how to change the mud and pot mixture. There is also a multimedia presentation where an expert explains the types of pots available such as clay and cement. He also explains methods of watering plants.
Participants are then taught different ways of propagation such as cuttings; how to plant and water; raising seedlings in trays and how to transfer them to the desired location; different methods of sowing, cutting, grafting and layering; and use of different types of kitchen garden equipment such as pick axes, pitch forks, trowels and sprayers. Participants will learn how to plan a terrace garden on a 30'x40' or 60'x40' site. It will teach one to select pots of the right size like 12'' pots for vegetables and flowers, smaller cement pots for gourds and creepers, big cement pots for perennial plants and larger cement pots for composting.
Kitchen wastes such as vegetable peels and leaves are mixed with soil in these large pots and earthworms eat them to produce vermicompost, enough for a terrace garden.
Using these techniques, it is possible to grow even relatively large plants such as drumstick and papaya.
The success of terrace gardening is to make optimum utilisation of space. Hence it is important to know a bit about the type of plants to grow in different seasons and how long it takes to harvest the crop. This way, one can learn how to rotate crops and keep a perennial supply of vegetables.
An important aspect of the course is plant protection. The objective of taking the course is to be able to grow vegetables that are not sprayed with harmful insecticides. Here, one learns to make organic preparations that fight insects and pests, avoiding the use of chemicals. Participants are familiarised with the available biofertilizers for enriching soil.
The course lays emphasis the use of neem-based oil sprays to control insects, and the use of neem cakes to control soil-borne diseases. One also learns botanical preparation of garlic spray, which is done by crushing garlic and mixing with vegetable oil. Turmeric powder is a good ant-repellant.
Participants include housewives and senior citizens and they learn to grow vegetables that are adequate to sustain a family of five. The institute also holds awareness programmes for college students and TCH trainees regularly about organic farming. For details, contact Ph: 3516060.
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