Preparations for Planting
Selecting Location for Planting : Segregate sun loving and shade loving plants. Most of the flowering and fruiting plants do need good amount of sunlight. The sunny southern side is best suited for most seasonal / perennial vegetables, flowering and fruiting plants. Eastern or western sides of the garden too are suitable for sun loving pants. On the northern border or other shadier places shade loving plants should be planted. Lawns too love bright sunny spots. Shadow cast by tall trees or a building may cause tall lanky and sparce growth of grasses. The roots of big trees or shrubs planted very close to the lawns will compete with lawn grasses. Big trees like Jamun, Mango, Eucalyptus, Casuarina, Neem etc. should be planted at least 7-8 meters away from the buildings. The roots of such trees are capable of damaging foundations of walls.
Preparing Flower Beds : Make trenches at least 30 c.m. deep. At the bottom of the trench put about 7 c.m. thick layer of brickbats. This will facilitate good drainage of excess water. It is advisable to give a 5 c.m. thick layer of dried leaves on the layer of brickbats. Fill the remaining portion of the trench with equal quantity of good garden soil and farmyard manure to raise the level of the bed to at least 5 to 7 c.m. above the ground level. In place of farmyard manure leaf mould also may be used. For ease in planting & cultivation practices, the beds should be about 1 meter wide.
Potted Plants : Advantage of growing potted plants is that when the potted plants are not in bloom or are not in good shape, they could be kept away from the decorative garden for recuperation. Potted plants can be arranged in very artistic ways. They are most useful on terrace gardens and balcony gardens. These days very decorative planters of various materials with attractive shapes are available.
For good aeration of roots, the pots should not be taller than their diameter. Pots with openings smaller than their diameter also should be avoided, as changing soil from these causes great hardships to the plant. The pots should be tapered at the bottom. This facilitates changing of soil without damaging the roots.
In a pot there should be at least two drainage holes. The bottom part of the pot should be covered with broken pot chips or brickbats. A thin layer of dried leaves should be added over the chips layer. Soil / manure mixture in equal quantity should be added to the pot. Soil mixture should not be filled up to the brim of the pot. If filled to the brim, soil will wash away while watering the plant. While transporting earthen pots never lift them by their collar. Old earthen pots will break easily if lifted by collar.
Forcing Plants to Bloom : Very often people complain about the plants, which fail to bloom. It must be borne in mind that flowering is seasonal in most of the plants. Very few plants such as Vinka (Sadafuli) and Impatience bloom all year round. Except for some flowering plants like Anthuriums, African violets, Impatience and Bromeliads exposure to bright sunlight is most essential in flower-bearing. Plants of some Jasmine and citrus varieties respond very favourably to reduced watering for a week or 15 days, about 6 weeks prior to the commencement of flowering season, followed by manuring and pruning. Pruning alone, in proper season, will give good blooms in plants like Bougainvillea. Plants like Galdioli, Amaryllis, Dahlia respond well if allowed to rest after the earlier flowering season. Hormone preparations like Planofix encourage flowering in some plants such as Chilly, Tomato, Brinjal etc.
Seasonal and Pernnial Plants : Seasonal plants are normally grown from seeds. They have quite short juvenile stage; in which only vegetative growth takes place. After the plants mature they start flowering and fruiting. After the fruiting is over, the seasonal plants complete their life cycle and die. Those seasonal plants which complete their life cycles within an year are called as ‘Annual plants’. The seasonal plants those complete their life cycle within two years are called as ‘Biennial plants’.
Perennial plants can be grown from seeds or some other vegetative method of propagation such as branch cuttings, leaf cuttings, root cuttings, grafting or budding. Perennial plants if grown from seeds have a comparatively longer juvenile period. The perennial plants too flower and fruit in a particular season. However, after the fruiting season is over, they do not die like seasonal plants do. Thus they continue to live for number of years depending upon the species.
Soil Types : In and around Mumbai, we come across four different types of soils. Blackish heavy clay, sandy soil near the sea shores, yellowish muram soil and red garden soil. Red soil is the best of all the four. Sandy soil lacks nutrients due to excess of sand. However, if mixed with red soil and manure, it can make a good planting mixture. Yellow Muram is alkaline and most plants need slightly acidic soil. Muram soil can be improved by addition of gypsum and good quantity of organic manure. Though red soil is good, on drying it hardens like rock. So to loosen it, organic manure / compost / rice husk / sand / brick granules / charcoal pieces / vermiculite / peat moss etc. should be added to it. These ingredients can make the soil friable. They help in quick drainage of excess water but at the same time help retain the ideal quantity of moisture and air for healthy growth of roots.
Watering of Plants : Except for some succulents, all plant love to have regular supply of water. The plants may be watered any time of the day. But it is better to fix some definite time for watering. Most of the potted plants will need daily watering. Larger plants in ground like to have daily watering. However, as their roots go deep in ground, occasional missing of water feeding will not harm them. Excess of water can do more harm to plants than underfeeding them. Excess water washes out water-soluble nutrients, which are very essential for healthy plant growth. Regular spraying of water on foliage keeps them glossy and healthy. As leaf pores are cleared of dust, photosynthesis and respiration processes are facilitated.
Watering of plants can be done with a sprinkler attached to a hose. Alternately a watering can with a fine rose also can be used. The water should not be poured or forced to jet in such a manner that topsoil splashes away. This will expose tender hair roots, which will wither in sunlight. For big gardens and farms drip irrigation & sprinkler systems can be used.
Seed Sowing Methods : Direct method – Larger seeds like those of Pumpkin, Bhendi, Karela etc. are planted on the site where they are expected to grow. The seeds are poked in to the ground at the ideal depth, depending upon the seed size. They complete their life cycle in the same place.
Transplanting Method : Seeds are first sown in a basket or on a nursery bed. After the seedlings bear about 4 to 6 leaves, they are transplanted in their final place. Example – Seasonal plants like Flox, Pinks, Asters Beet Root, Cabbage etc.
Broadcasting Method : Seeds of many leafy vegetables like, Chowli, Math, Palak, Methi etc. are scattered on prepared beds. Alternatively they are broadcast in trenches and then covered with soil cover. These too continue to grow in the same place.
Seed Germination Problems : Following reasons can be attributed to failure of seed germination. The seeds are viable for a particular time, depending upon the species. After this period seeds fail to germinate. Seeds might have been harvested before maturity. .Seeds if not stored properly may catch fungus or may be damaged by the insects. Some seeds need dormancy after they are harvested. These seeds will sprout only after the desired rest is attained. Excessive watering could cause fungus rot of seeds or just sprouted seeds. Tiny seeds if not watered carefully, are washed off, hence no germination. Ants or birds may damage or carry the seeds if sown too shallow. Seeds if sown very deep will sprout, however, the seedling will fail to surface and will thus decompose in the soil itself. Seeds with hard coat will need special treatments to thin out the seed coat. Some seeds with hard coats will germinate faster if soaked in hot water for about 24 hours prior to sowing. Seedlings lacking sunlight will grow weak & lanky. Seedlings grown in a sunny place will be short & stout.