Aphid Attack!!!!

The radish plot was attacked by aphids. I do not know what kind/species, but I feel pretty sure that they were aphids.

Aphids on the underside of radish leaves

What are aphids?
Aphids,also known as “plant lice”, are pear-shaped, tiny (less than 1/8 inch in length), green/yellow/black insects that are found usually on the underside of leaves or along stems.
Aphids are sucking insects that draw great quantities of sap, causing leaves and stems to become discoloured and eventually distorted. Some plant sap is excreted as honeydew, which makes the plant sticky and attracts other insects like ants.

Discoloured radish leaf due to aphid attack
Dying radish plant

Wikipedia and What’s that Bug have more reading material and photos that can help identify aphids and their species and You Grow Girl provides some recipes on how to treat an aphid attack.

In the case of the radish plot there were several ants around the infested plants, but I also found spiders and several webs along the soil!

I noticed the aphids on the 18th of Nov, but I took too long in acting on it. It was only on the 27th Nov (10 days later) that I began the treatment but alas! that was too late.

Here is what I was asked to do:

Take some tobacco (khaini -the non-peppermint type – it shouldnt cost more than a few rupees)
Dunk 1/2 a teaspoon in 2 cups of water. steep overnight.
Strain the juice and dilute 1:3 and use a spray to wetten the plant.
Do this in the morning or the evening, once a day for a week or so.

I made a concoction that was stronger that recommended, and I did it too late. So in effect, the radish crop is dead! :-(

Lessons:
1. Act FAST when your garden/crop is infested or diseased
2. Follow instructions about pest management

Tambdi Bhaji

Tambdi Bhaji (is red vegetable in Marathi/Konkani), belongs to the family of Amaranth, and is also known as the following:

  • Chinese spinach
  • Pigweeds
  • Yin Choi (China)
  • Chauli (India)
  • Thotakura (Andhra Pradesh, India)
  • mullukkirai (Tamil Nadu, India)
  • Jacob/Joseph’s coat,
  • Lenga lenga/biteku teku (Congo)

Deep purple leaves

Tambdi bhaji growing alongside radish

Red stems

This site has some more pictures of the plant.


I’ve seen this commonly eaten in Goa. I don’t remember seeing it growing up in Bombay, or in any of the northern states I’ve visited. Though it seems that it is common in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.


This web-page suggests that Amaranthus was cultivated in Mexico over 7000 years ago and was used by the Aztecs as a source of food, mainly protein from the seeds that were used as a grain. There is other information on nutrition values on this page too.
It’s not known how and when it came to India, but it has been grown in the Himalayan regions, along the east and west coast of India for several years now.


The seeds from this plant are used as grain and are high in protein, calcium, fiber and low in carbohydrates. This article by Sanjeev Kapoor points out that the grain, known as ram dana or rajgiri/rajagira, is a part of the Indian diet for many years. He suggests that when you combine rajgiri with other grains like say corn you end up with an amino acid balance which is richer than even meat and milk! No wonder this is one of the grains that make it to the list of ‘fast-foods’ (that is, food eaten when people fast :-) ).

I remember eating this grain as a light-weight chikki when I was little. It is also served up as ladoos. I had no idea it came from this red-leafed spinach.


The leaves (they vary in colour from green to deep purple) are known to have high levels of different minerals like calcium and iron and also a high level of fiber.


In Goa, this is a very fast growing leafy vegetable, grown during the winter crop during Oct-May. The seeds are very shiny-black and very small. In summer the plant tends to be more fibrous and less succulent and is very sensitive to waterlogging. The seeds are broadcasted on flat beds. Addition of organic manure is recommended and regular watering helps make the plants succulent (though do not let water collect, as it will kill the plant).


The leaves are harvested by pulling out the seedlings, or by cutting the plant 6-8 inches from the top. This cab be done 20-30 days after sowing. If the plant is left for too long, it become fibrous.

Changes

In the last week, a few there have been some changes.

  1. plucked, cooked and ate the first round of tambdi bhaji
  2. planted and sprouted tomato
  3. planted and am waiting for the capsicum’s (red, yellow and green varieties) to sprout.
  4. whittled the radish bed and fed it a mix of compost+farmyard manure+neem cake
  5. spotted aphid-like insects/bugs on the underside of the radish leaves!!
  6. transplanted brinjal seedlings

Radish Greens

And so the radishes grow rapidly. Both the local and the hybrid varieties seem to be doing well. The radish bed below is not three weeks old. From what I read, they can be harvested between 40-60 days of sowing, depending on the variety.

Radish bed – about 2 weeks old

I had planted both the local (Goan) and a hybrid (not sure which variety though) varieties. The first three rows from the left are the local variety and they sprouted first, within 3 days of planting. The hybrid variety came later (about 5-7 days after planting) but both seem to be doing equally well at the moment. I spotted some grasshoppers eating away at the leaves though. I’m waiting to taste them to see if there are any differences.

Radish greens

Radish leaves – 3 weeks old

Radish bed – 3 weeks old

2 – 0

Local Varieties v/s Hybrids

Local Varieties are in the lead – with raddish and cluster-beans scoring really early in the game (3 days only). It could be anybody’s game, but a round of applauses for the early strikers, Local Varieties!!

Cluster-beanie-babies
(Chitki-Mitki/Gawar)

Birth of a baingan plant (brinjal)

Onions in the making

Hard work!

It really is a lot of hard work getting the garden ready! But it was fun, and with Shambhaji and Shivnath’s help, we managed to prepare 4 beds, mix in vermi-compost and farm yard manure (FYM), make furrows, select and sow seeds and finally water the beds!! All in three and a half hours on a Saturday morning. Some pictures below to tell the tale.

Mixing of FYM and breaking down the clumps of soil

Shambhaji and Shivnath take the lead

Four quadrants, watered and ready!
As usual, I’ll use my geeky naming system – we have 4 quadrants – and it’s easy to remember which is 1 – 4 (clock-wise, starting top-left, they are 1 to 4).
  • Quad1 has mooli (raddish) – 3 rows of the local variety and the remaining hybrid
  • Quad2 has a few rows of baingan (brinjal), and a few of shimla mirchi, (capsicum or peppers)
  • Quad3 has all the leafy stuff – palak (spinach), tambadi bhaji (English name??) , lettuce and some parsley (I’m not sure the seeds were healthy, so we planted just one row – not too confident we’ll have any parsley growing)
  • Quad4 has gawar/chitki-mitki (cluster beans I think) – 4 rows of the local variety, and the remaining hybrid

Breaking new ground…

I managed to plant a few seeds yesterday! It rained a little and was overcast – but I wanted to get started so I did. :-)

Maybe I didn’t read the right things, but when I went to the garden, I had no idea where to begin. So with Santosh’s help, I dug a few furrows, planted some seeds, covered them up with mud and left it at that. Seemed simple enough. We planted onions and brinjal. There’s more where that came from. I’m going to do some proper reading. I’ll post something about how to start I guess, for other beginners like me.

I found a booklet on kitchen gardening written by the Agriculture Officers’ Association in Panaji, Goa. It is called “Kitchen Garden Manual”. It was printed in 2003 bu the officer’s assocation. If you are in Goa, you can contact the Agriculture Dpt at their new office in Tonca (phone nos. +91-832-2465443/2425910/2436851/2226445) to see if they have copies available.

This booklet describes (not in detail, but enough to give one a sense of things) how to plan the layout of your garden, how to prepare the land, water management, pesticides (unfortunately, organic agriculture is under the heading “New Concepts in Kitchen Garden”), diseases etc…