Senthil thoughts for you, also Ananth, lots for you here and a special section for you at the end.
  1. Plant all of the beds with something before the rains comes. You can plant, see below for what to plant to use for mulch as you will not need all of this produce right now.
  2. What was the story of that plant you pulled for me that I tasted that was bitter?.
  3. Ananth can tell you how to buy heirloom (traditional) seeds.
  4. A reason for using non-hybrid, traditional or heirloom plants as well as starting from seed is that these plants will be much more drought hardy, will need much less water to give a good crop, have not been pampered by nursery folk with way too much water, and will know how to get their nutrition from the microbes, since they have never been spoon fed with chemicals.
  5. Hybrid plants have been developed or spread mainly by the chemical people to use their chemicals. What happens with these chemicals: plants are used to getting their nutrition from the soil and from mulch. They have no feedback mechanism to exclude too much concentrated nutrition whether it is from chemical or organic sources. When too much nitrogen goes to the plant, the plant will take up extra water to balance it. The plant will then grow quickly, with enlarged cells. These plants will look lush and green but in fact will be weak and insects and disease will attack them.
  6. Buying non hybrid seeds is very important to natural farming. Hopefully we can find ways to help each other find the seeds we need. Tree seeds are especially had to get, as almost no one is growing trees from seeds. But if just 10 of us start saving tree seeds from the best trees we can find, we will have lots of seeds to start our food forests.
  1. 3 main ways to hold the water in the soil.
a. Deep rooted legumes planted with everything
b. Earth worms digging lots of holes, so the water goes down deep.
c. Mulch living or brown. (no exposed soil)
e. Bore well trees, neem, tamarind, jamon used in hedgerows (borders)
f. water conservation structures – percolation tanks, swales, check dams.
  1. Watering: Are you operating the mister sprinklers during the day. If you are you need to stop and operate only during the early morning or evening times to save water (unless the plants need to be watered during the day. You say the crops needs this and as there is no water shortage now then continue to do this. However if you do all the following recommendations with deep rooted legumes the plants will not need day time watering when water shortage occurs again. The way to tell if you can get by without this watering is the looks of the plant, not drying out as well, as the taste of the plant, not tough. Mulching also reduces transpiration of plant leaves, meaning the plants will not put moisture into the air. By reducing the soil surface temperature and surface air temperature (microclimate), the transpiration is not needed.
  2. Best microclimate for growing crops is 25-32 degrees C, 65-75% humidity. One kg of humus absorbs 6 liters of water from the atmosphere in 1 day and makes this available to the roots of the crops.
  3. You need to plant agathi keerai (susbania grandiflora) every 4 feet in every direction so the plants are shaded. This is a traditional technic for feeding nitrogen to the plants. Mr. Palekar says most of the vegetable plants need dancing shadows and this will be provided by these plants. He explains that when the plants get too hot, they actually quit growing and the dancing shadows allows them continuous growth. It appears that a lot of water can also keep the plants cool enough to grow continually, but if we do not have the water, we need to have the shade. See planting patterns below. Ananth said you are already planning to plant the sesbania g.
  4. Another thing to plant with spinach is gourds or cucumbers or beans, either climbing or bush. You can let all of these climb agath keerai, moringa or castor.
  5. Pigeon pea roots go down 3-4 meter into the earth. They store water and then share it with their neighboring plants, as well as nitrogen. So would advise that you plant pigeon peas in the middle of every bed, alternating with the sesbania grandiflora.
  6. As Mr. Palekar says earthworms are digging holes everywhere and this is allowing the water to percolate down and to go into the well that you have.
  1. The best thing to help with insects is to plant diversity, especially adding in some aromatic plants, like lemon grass, tulsi, etc. Whatever mechanism the insects are using to find the plants (such as smell) is confused by a lot of different types of plants.
  2. In your situation I would recommend medicinal herbs, which you could then market, especially aromatic medicinal herbs (as aroma is definitely one of the mechanisms that insects use to find their “prey.”)
  3. Maybe something every 4 feet in every line that you plant. As you have 2 lines of drip tape for feeding water, maybe you could locate aromatic herbs that do not need water such as lemon grass . Maybe find 5 medicinal herbs and rotate them throughout the beds.
  4. There are several farm made insect repellants in the ZBNF books.
  5. Most traditional indian insect remedies involve strengthening the soil life so that the plants are stronger and do not attract insects. This comes from thousands of years of understanding that the insect’s job is to get rid of the less fit plants.
  6. Insects go in straight lines, so by planting serpentine beds you decrease insects.
  1. Primary plant nutrition comes from the soil microbes. The amount of organic matter they make with their discarded bodies is many times that of even the mulch that we use.
  2. Mulch. Only useful if it is 3 inches deep. This way it does not just dry out, but has an under layer which feeds the microbes.
  3. Nitrogen fixing plants feed your plants as they fix nitrogen from the air.
  4. Another thing to plant is beans. You can sell the beans and they are nitrogen fixing. One great bean to plant is cow peas, a favorite of ZBNF. There is a special long cow pea that consumers really like. In U.S. these are called yard long beans These are creepers so give them something to climb.
  1. A sustainable system for growing plants without any additional nutrition: You need to have lose to 50% nitrogen fixing plants. These give us both nitrogen fixing and deep roots that hold water. With 20 plants one half of which are nitrogen fixing we will not even need to use jivanreit after 3 months, the plants will all take care of each other, feed the microbes and the microbes will feed them.
  2. Microbes use the small quantity of amino acids and ammonia released by decomposing straw to create their body liquids. When these microbes die they release nitrogen. The bodies of microorganisms have 44% organic carbon and 14% nitrogen. These microbes are also breaking down the soil into its mineral components.
  3. Straw breakdown is increased by protein availability. A large amount of breakdown equals a large amount of microbial activity and detritus for organic growth.
  4. Cow urine fermented, and jiwanreit, are best sources of protein as well as microorganisms. Human urine, also fermented is good so pee in a bucket.
  5. 12 herbs that you are already fermenting. Can you add give me a list of what these 12 herbs are. Tamil is okay.
  6. 10 lb of rock dust per acre. So figure out how to divide that for each bed and then distribute. This will nourish the microbes which would then feed your plants.
  7. There are enough minerals in any soil to feed the plants, what is lacking is the microbes which will release them, so very small particles of rock or silt will prime the microbes, so to speak, meaning that the microbes can digest them easily which will make more microbes whose bodies can then feed the plants and feed each other so they make even more microbes and as there are enough microbes they will be able to digest the larger particles of soil. Remember that microbes are what turned the rock of this whole planet into soil.
  8. Because you are an agriculture student I want to say agriculture schools have focused on the NPK part of the soil. This means they have broken down the soil into elements. Soil biology is a whole other way to look at what is going on with plants and is more connected to ecology and systems theory, a whole way of soil working together. In this system, the NPK is actually produced by the microbes with help from nitrogen fixing plants. (There are also nitrogen fixing soil bacteria, so nitrogen can even be fixed without these plants, but probably not enough for good plant production).
  9. Jiwanreit: a handful of soil with the best microbes you can find, add 12 herbs, in with these herbs., molasses, (jaggery), black gram powder (or other protein source)
  10. 200 liter barrel, 10 kg of dung and 5 liters of urine and 2 kg of jaggery and 1 kg of protein.
  11. For crops that do produce less under the shade of the gourd plants (over the spinach), where we did the zig zag pattern of the sesbania g. you might want to calculate if it is worth it to have less spinach and get the money for more bottle gourds instead. In other words getting less growth because of shade might be compensated by other crops that you get. When I visited the coffee board, they said that when coffee gets too much sun then it is attacked by insects. So watch for a problem if the plants get too much shade, insects or fungus.
  12. Growing mulch. Mulch is the main key for growing with a lot less water (Palekar says 90% less water is needed with mulch.) Mulch also allows collection of moisture from the air over night. Mulch is a main source of nutritional support. I thought for the time being you could afford to have 1/3 of your beds in mulch. There is a person who recommends that new organic farmers plant swaths of nitrogen fixing plants in between swaths of their grains. They actually get the same yield with the grains that they have gotten if the whole field was planted with the grains. Plant maybe 1/3 of your beds for this time into millets, stylo hammata, sunhemp, velvet beans, white horsegram has a lot of mass. I am looking for the most massive amount of green material as we know how to get. Then you can use these plants for mulch for the other beds. The idea here is to plant something that you get a lot of mulch from whatever you know works for that. Actually white horse gram is a climber (creeper) and makes a lot of mulch. Palekar says that mulch should be 50/50 legume/other plants. Do not worry about the exact amounts here. You can also run gliricidia down the middle of these beds also for mulch and for deep water retention. The leaves of gliricidia make a lot of mulch. You can plant very close and take out the thinings of the plants and use the whole plant for mulch when the stalks are very young
  13. You can use plants that have no need for water — most millets, ground nuts, horsegram, many legumes do not need water added, black horsegram is the best that I know of.
  14. There is a practice here in india of growing vegetables during the monsoon. Then after the monsoon you plant a “rabi crop” which is a crop that uses the water held in by the plants that were grown during the monsoon. Yes rabi is a season but is also is used to mean planting after the monsoon. You could actually turn the water off in these beds as they will have enough water from the water held by the monsoon plants. When I say turn the water off, I do not mean plant these crops in one area. The ideal would be to have your mulch growing every 3rd bed so you can access it easily. You can turn your sprinkler rows on and off as you wish (I know a lot of bother, but it will allow you to use a lot less water.)
  15. Another thing here is that the plants will share water via mycorhizzals once you have plenty of jiwanrita containing mycorhizzals from the earth that you add plus lots of other needed microbes.
  16. You will also see that the beds that you have used for growing mulch will be a wonderful place to plant your next crops. You can leave some of the mulch material right there and plant into the mulch. In the u.s. I just drop the seed into the mulch and it grows. I expect the same thing would work here, but the intensity of the sun might mean it will not work, so experiment with this. Or you could dibble the seed through the mulch. Dibbling the seed: I do this by throwing the seed down one at a time or two at a time and using a long stick about 1 inch thick to puch it under the ground and covering it.
  17. As your fields get more organic material you can use a living mulch and not use the straw mulch. I do this by planting very closely, mixing radish, carrots (if carrots will grow here), beets, onion, garlic into the beds so within 1-2 weeks of planting the bed is full of green material obviously onions, coriander and garlic are also a good aromatic plants, as well as turmeric and ginger.
  1. Where the beets and radishes did not come up, you have weeds. Scythe them, or cut them some other way and leave the roots. Use this cut material for mulch on the bed. It is important to always heap the mulch up 3 inches. You will not have enough mulch for the whole bed, so rather than spreading it out, use it 3 inches high on a section of the bed. Best not to take the roots out as these will hold water and nourish the microbes. Yes some of them will regrow. Cut them again. These are providing mulch for you.
  2. Rake, long handled and at least 10 inches across (wide) so you can scratch big amounts of bed. I actually saw a rake here in india that was 3 feet across the beds. Though since your beds are 4 feet across a 2 foot rake would be ideal. It would be good to put a long handle on this rake. If it does not have a llong handle already, I have gotten the people in the welding shop to make me a long handle by buying metal piping for them. Make sure they attach it well. You can make your own tools by having someone cut down the 3 foot rake. You can take a length of metal pipe and have it welded on a rake and thereby make a long handled rake.
  3. Broadcast the seeds, then rake them in and then walk all over them. Compressing the soil brings the dee. water up via capillary action. It also holds the water. The earthworms and microbes will then get the right amount of oxygen into the system (see E. Ingham re plowing and oxygen in the soil).

1. Moringa plants, for leaf production.

a. growing: plant 6 inches in from the border and then next plant 4 feet away. On the opposite side of the bed plant 6 inches in from the border 2 feet offset from the moringa plant on the opposite side, making a zig zag pattern.
b. Cut them off at 4 feet, height and let them branch and then every 3 months, cut the branches from the tree.
c. Plant one bed of moringa with beans or gourds, or pumpkins or cucumbers and then plant a spinach bed. Because of your watering you would rather plant other vegetables in the beds and keep the spinach with the foggers. This is okay as long as you put the nitrogen fixing trees down the middle of the spinach bed.
2. Spinach bed, 2 separate patterns. One the zigzag pattern above making a whole lot of shade
And the other with the sesbania or moringa down the middle with climbing plants, beans, cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins etc. just in the middle of the beds.
a.. Plant sesbania grandiflora in the same 2 patterns as moringa
           3. We plant the trees in the bed, so that you can walk down the rows to harvest.
           4. Trees in the middle would be papaya, banana, sesbania g., moringa.
     5. Moringa I would plant one plant (use 3 seeds) 6 inches in from the edge of the bed and then offset,          zigzag and plant 2 feet on the other side of the bed.
      6. Sesbania, every 4 feet in the same pattern as moringa
  1. Right now 10 rupees for 200-250 gm some varieties 15 for medicinal 20 for agathakeerai, per sq foot 1 bunch. A person in Trichi is getting one bunch per sq. foot.
  2. Right now Senthil is getting 100 sq feet 20 or 30 sq feet instead of 100 bunches.
  3. Why is he getting less: not enough microbial activity in soil, not enough water, soil is too hot..
  4. Growing of fruits Papaya, Water melon, Cucumber, Musk melon
  5. Look up how long it takes for sesbania to flower
  6. Papaya plants generate heat at the base of the plant which is counterproductive to greens. This is from observations of the person in Chennai who originated this particular green system. You might try putting papaya in the middle of one spinach bed to check to see if his observations were site specific, and otherwise put papaya in with other vegetables.
  7. CSA type arrangement, have consumer people pay a certain amount each month and suuply them with greens, and whatever else you choose to supply them with. Some people do this combined with home delivery, I would recommend doing this by setting up a depots at the major shopping hubs if it is a big city.
  1. All green like some shade, Some greens like a whole lot of shade. With plants that like a whole lot of shad like, mint, methi, coriander, love shade, brahamiso plant with zig zag sesbania grandiflora or moringa.
  2. With greens that do not love shade then plant sesbania or moringa in the middle of the bed and again connect the sesbanias so the gourds can climb across as well as up. Figure out a way to attach the cross poles so as not to damage the sesbania or moringa plants. Probably some kind of rope.
  1. To buy the Palekar books (ZBNF) google Subesh Palekar or Zero Budget. . . and you will see how to buy books, you have to deposit the funds.. you can buy in tamil. Zero budget is on Facebook and you will see how to take seminars.
  2. Namalwar ecological farm. On Facebook, in Tamil
  3. Vanagan, on Facebook in Tamil
  4. Introduction to permaculture, a book authored by Bill Mollison, and another person, obtainable on line . Google this. You will learn how to take a permaculture design certificate cource on this website. Also on Facebook. Permaculture is more an overview on how natural systems work and often not directly applicable to a commercial farm operation.
  5. Elaine Ingham on Facebook.
Dash parni kashaya – 10 leaves concoction
  1. Preparation
a.. 200 liters of water, 2 kg of desi cow dung and mix in this water very well.
b. 10 liters of desi cow urine
c. 200 gm of turmeric powder and 200 gm of dried ginger powder or 500 gm green ginger pulp.
d. 1 kg of tobacco eating powder.
e. 1 kg pulp of hot green chilli or 1 kg dried green chilli
f. 1 kg pulp of deshi garlic
g. 2 kg of deshi marigold including roots, stems, leaves and flowers. Stir with a stick in a clockwise direction very well.
  1. From here down is a list of 50 plants, choose ten of them first 5 types of plants are most important so if you can find these use them.
  1. 3 kg small branches of neem and add to the water
  2. 2 kg of small branches of pongamia pinnata
  3. 2 kg green leaves of custard apple
  4. 2 kg green leaves of castor
  5. 2 kg green leaves of lantana
  6. 2 kg green leaves of datura
  7. 2 kg green leaves of bael
  8. 2 kg green leaves of tulsi
  9. S2 kg green leaves of calotropis gigantia
  10. 2 kg green leaves of cassia tora
  11. 2 kg green leaves of papaya
  12. 2 kg green leaves of Persian lilac
  13. Guava
  14. Mango
  15. Jungle flame – I think this is flame of the forest
  16. Oleander
  17. Bitter gourd
  18. 5 leaves chaste, vitex
  19. Hibiscus
  20. Drumstick, moringa
  21. Arjun
  22. Tamarind
  23. Moha
  24. Ashwanganda – this would be a good herb to grow for sale as well
  25. Pomegranite
  26. Babul
  27. Nut grass
  28. Barleria prionitis
  29. Long pepper
  30. Flag roots acorus calamus
  31. Bauhinia variegate
  32. Asparagus racemosus
  33. Convolvulus microphylus
  34. Hogweed, boerbivia diffusa
  35. Chrysanthemum coronareum
  36. Clerodendrum serratum
  37. Phillanthus fraternus
  38. Ashok tree – seraca asoca
  39. Tylophora asmatica
  40. Rauwolfia serpentia
  41. Euphorbia geniculate
  42. Achyranthus aspera
  43. Hyptis sauvelens
  44. Verbascum chienense
  45. Tinospora cardifolia
  46. Centella asiatica
  47. Strychnox nuxvomica
  1. stir everything in counterclock wise direction. cover with a gunny bag so as not to exposre mixture to sunlight.
  2. Keep for 40 days to ferment
  3. After this time filter 2 – 3 times.
  4. Store in glass jar or earthen vessel.
  5. This lasts for 6 months
  1. 100 liters of water
  2. 5 liters of urine of deshi cow
  3. 1 kg of deshi cow dung
  4. Crush 5 kg of neem leaves and add neem pulp to the water
  5. Ferment for 24 hours
  6. Do not mix with water, spray as it
  7. This is for sucking insects, mealy bugs
Babul paste
  1. Dried pods of babul and crush into powder.
  2. 1 liter of water and 25 gm of this powder.
  3. Stir until the powder is totally dissolved in the water.
  4. Then filter and add to 200 liters of water.
  5. Stir and spray on plants for mealy bug pests.
There are a lot more sprays starting with page 230 in symbiosis of spiritual farming.
NOTES FOR ANANTH, this will probably help you to Senthil.


  1.  Where his seeds worked he watered 3 times a day for 15 minutes, morning, noon, and night. He broadcast them and then rakes over them to cover. I do not know if he tamped them down, but this would be good.
  2. I do not know about the water output
  3. of the fogger or mister compared with your sprinklers. I still believe it is possible to broadcast seeds and have it works, just how much water does it take.
  4. I see in Palekar’s books that he wants to start seeds in pockets in a home nursery. Sekar has given me a list of plants that he plants in nursery vs. the ones that he seeds. I can pass this on to both of you. I guess with the hot sun is the reason so many people use nursery plants. It looks like both of you have not been successful at growing nursery plants. It is important that you learn to do this as plants that you buy have been chemically fertilized and overwatered. Even the trees that narsanna planted from seed he grew in a nursery. I do not want to do this but it may be the only way in india. During the monsoon it could definitely work from seeds. However the big problem then is if there is too much water, so the plants would be better planted in hills (at least 2 inches above the ground), to not get water logged.
  5. I am sure you will note the economics of growing greens. There are lots of economic reports of raising vegetables on the internet, if you want to look at that. Also sekar has done some research on that, some of this coming from his 15 years of growing experience and I will send that to both of you.
  6. As I am writing this I notice two important things: that we did not plant regular mulch plants which would give us soft mulch, compared to the tree mulch of gliricidia. Gliricidia for a tree gives us a lot of mulch but not as much as growing some good leafy plants. There of course will be enough weeds on this land to get a lot of good mulch, until you have animals to consume the greens.
  7. There are some good planting patterns and I noticed in Palekar’s books that he uses castor for supports for beans and gourds. Castor is great for the soil. So all the places where we planted gourds, need sesbania, moringa or castor to support them so we do not have to do the labor of supporting them with brought in materials. I spoke with Senthil about extending connecting poles across the trees so the gourds have lot of climbing space, again needing a way to connect the posts to the trees without damaging the trees (some kind of lightweight rope I expect).
  8. Something I observed from Senthil’s farm was a lot of insects in the vegetables which is why I added the medicinals and aromatic herbs. I think in the Suresh seeds there is lemon grass which could be planted maybe every 2 – 4 feet. Also both of you curry leaf is a great herb, everyone needs it. Narsanna has a lot of this. Also Senthil has a lot of insect treatment’s you might ask him about if that becomes necessary or even ahead of time to have on hand when you do plant vegetables in case you need them.
  9. In my previous plantings up near Cumbum I did not have any insect problems and all my beds were mixed vegetables and fruits.
  10. Something else important regarding water on your farm. When I was watering the serpiginous vegetable beds the water coming from the on top of the building tank was hot. Palekar says that best temperature for seed germination is 20 to 30 degrees. This water was 40 degrees. That could be another reason for poor seed germination. At another farm they figured out a way to get the bore well to work for a 1 inch line, without compromising the bore well. They reversed something where the 1 inch line attached. You might ask your plumber about this. The water from the ground would be cool enough.
  11. The rock dust and the silt are pretty interchangeable. You could use silt at the rate of 0.1 lb. per raised bed as a way of dramatically increasing organic matter (via microbes) to the raised vegetable beds that were formed from added soil, possibly including construction debris. You could also use less silt. You can find silt near the new well and also near the previous open well site that is in now defunct.
  12. It must be time for the monsoon. You need to get all the heaps out at the boundaries flattened and planted. You need to get the carbonicum spread. You need to get jiwanreit all over the field. You need to get the trees planted throughout the fields. Are there any trees coming up in the fodder fields?
  13. Seeds. I do not know when you plan on using your seeds I thought you might be interested in selling some to senthil. If you do not want to sell them you need to refrigerate them to store them properly.