Every gardeners/farmers faced many problems during this lockdown period due to COVID19 pandemic. Particularly urban gardeners like us faced a lot because shops were closed. Many people had to buy expensive pesticides & fertilizers from the online shops. Most urban gardeners generally ask local shop owners for the solution off their gardening related problems and then purchase a product. Gardeners trust them because they know those people. Gardeners can easily buy compost fertilizer, pots from those stores at a very low price. But due to lockdown they could not do so. So they could not take proper care of their plants. In most cases, gardening becomes very very expensive & stressful during this pandemic situation. Is this not true?
But for me, it was not true. Surprisingly during this lockdown period my homegrown vegetables become cheaper & healthier. Shocked? But I am not joking. It is true. But how did this happen?
It happened because I started using homemade natural pesticide instead of market bought organic/chemical products. Surprisingly natural pesticides are working very well what I never expected. Earlier, I used to use some homemade insecticides & fungicides along with some other market bought products. But now I am using only only natural homemade pesticides for last a few months. So I am realizing that those homemade items are actually self-sufficient. I actually do not rely on chemical items & even market bought organic products too. But only thing is that, I have to apply pesticides (insecticides as well as fungicides) regularly after every 3-4 days.
Though I have very small amount of insecticide & fungicide what I purchased online last year. But right now those are kept safely in my gardening inventory. I will use those whenever I will feel my natural homemade pesticides are not working properly.
But since last a few months, I am using dashparni ark, neemastra & agniastra etc as natural insecticide and months old sour buttermilk (doi er ghol in Bengali, chhaas in Hindi) as fungicide.
All those are very popular natural pesticides. Those are actually not any secret, everybody know those natural items. But still people prefer to buy pesticides from the market even after many of them know that those natural pesticides are effective. It is because they either do not have time to prepare those or ingredients are not available in their locality. Fortunately, I have a few of those plants in our garden, so it was very easy to arrange all those ingredients to make those items.
To make dashparni ark ( a fermented liuid solution prepared with leaves from 10 different plants), you just need slightly poisonous/bitter leaves of neem, aak/akondo, dhatura, pomegranate/anar, papaya/papita, guava/amrud, karanj, oleander/kaner, bael, custard apple etc. You can also add any leaves what cow/goat does not eat. Apart from those people also add some other ingredients (garlic, ginger, turmeric & chillies) to make it stronger. Generally, cow dung & cow urine are used to ferment those ingredients. But urban gardeners do not get fresh cow dung & urine in their neighborhood. That is why I prefer to add vermicompost instead of cow dung & cow urine.
This month, I have all collected a tiny plant of aak/akondo and planted that in a pot. So I won’t need to find leaves of this plant in my neighborhood. I also have neem, pomegranate tree potted in pots/containers.
As most of the ingredients, I collected from my garden & neighborhood and only 2-3 cheap items I purchased to make these natural pesticides. So those pesticides are almost free or you can say very less expensive. Secondly, all those ingredients are organic, mostly homegrown, so definitely my homegrown vegetables are healthier.
So shifting towards natural farming/gardening actually reduces the cost of farming/gardening. So this way it makes my homegrown vegetables cheaper & healthier.