Little did I expect to find anything in the farm except discarded gram stalks, piled-up husk and bundles of garlic after the harvest of wheat, dhania (coriander) and lehsun (garlic). I had ventured into the farm in to peep inside the well, and to take some pictures of the stone façade (kot), as well as the wasteland. But to my utmost surprise, I was greeted by the sight of some magnificent vegetable plants, a nice and cozy ecosystem, thriving as a result of the industry of the labour, and facility of well-water.
Numerous umberella -like inflorescence called ‘umbels’ gave away the thriving CARROT cultivation. Carrot is botanically DAUCUS CAROTA. An umbel might contain up to 50 umbellets, each of which might bear 50 flowers. The central flower is dark red. Sugar is stored in the taproot of this biennial.
Growing by its side, and providing green cover for protection from warm winds, were tall maize plants. MAIZE is botanically ZEA MAYS. Corns (bhutta) could be spotted by the presence of their hair. With my layman’s knowledge and experience, I would have expected carrot plants to be growing only in winter, and maize around November. But the evidence lay in manifestation of these beauties, both of which were subsequently plucked and enjoyed by yours truly. Sweet carrots and roasted corn provided a wholesome repast.
Adjacent to the carrots stood SUNN HEMP plants with their trademark yellow flowers. Sunn or Indian or Madras Hemp is also known as SAN or Jhunjhunia in local parlance, and is botanically CROTALARIA JUNCEA. The leaves are elongate and alternate, flowers are yellow racemes. It is an extremely useful source of fodder, green manure, lignified fibre and bio-fuel. Sunn Hemp provides a nursery-like look to the whole ambience.
There were lot of green and red tomatoes on vines, the likes of which I have not tasted in a while. The tomato is the edible berry of the plant SOLANUM LYCOPERSICUM.
Then there were multiple rows of Ladies’ Finger (Bhindi or Okra), one vegetable I had actually hoped to find. Okra’s seed pods are eaten as food. It is botanically Abelmoschus esculentus.
Brinjal, the King of the Farm, or the Crowned Buffoon, as the farmhands dismissed it, also thrived in these warm and humid conditions. Winter dew causes trouble for brinjal. It is known as eggplant or aubergine, and is botanically SOLANUM MELONGENA. The spongy, purple, absorbent fruit is classified as a berry.
Lal mirchi, that is Red Chilli Peppers, botanically some or the other cultivar of CAPSICUM ANNUUM, provide the spice in the whole mash-up.
Surprise of surprises, I found the two GOBHI sisters juxtaposed against each other near the well area. Cabbage and cauliflower were locked in joyful proximity. Both of them belong to the species BRASSICA OLERACIA, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and others, and are collectively called ‘cole’ crops.
While coming out, I spotted hanging gilkis, also known as Sponge Gourd or Egyptian Cucumber. Botanically, it is called LUFFA EGYPTIACA, and its young fruit is eaten as a vegetable. What i spotted were dried fruits, hanging down a tall tree, quite like corpses. The Sponge gourd vine had climbed the tree, and turned it into its fruit hanging display gallery.
The farm always manages to surprise me, let alone satiate my taste buds. But this mid-April visit gave me insight into how vegetables must be planned and farmed during the fallow season. I left with some food for thought and lots of it for consumption. My weekly quota of greens was now taken care of, thanks to this chance visit.
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