Flea Beetle


First insect attacked our plants this season. After several research, I realized that it’s called Flea Beetles. They were supposed to be infecting during seedling but my case it was during the growing season. Unfortunately, any greens around it were not affected at all. Not sure why they picked only eggplants so far in my raised beds.

There are various genera and species of flea beetles, all members of the Chrysomelidae family. The adults are active leaf-feeders that can, in large numbers, rapidly defoliate and kill plants. Symptoms of flea-beetle feeding are small, rounded, irregular holes; heavy feeding makes leaves look as if they had been peppered with fine shot.

In organic systems, the preferred approaches to pest management are those that enhance the diversity of the farm system, such as cover cropping, rotation, and interplanting; those that use special knowledge of pest biology, such as delayed planting; and those that take advantage of existing on-farm resources. These approaches are typified by cultural and biological controls, which will be discussed first. Alternative pesticides, while frequently necessary for some crop pests and conditions, can be treated as “rescue chemistry”—to be used when and if other strategies fall short.

Other homemade solutions:

Garlic and Onions

Garlic is effective at controlling flea beetles. It should be minced and mixed with water. Allow it to sit for a little and strain the fiber out of the solution. Spray the mixture on your plants

Dish Soap

Dish soap is effective in getting rid of many common garden pests and diseases. It is important to never use anti-bacterial soap on your plants; so read the bottle before using it. A few teaspoons mixed with some water can be sprayed on plants to help get rid of flea beetles.

Red Pepper

Red Pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and hot pepper sauce all do a good job at keeping flea beetles and other pests away from your garden plants. Simply add a few tablespoons to some water and spray the plants with your natural concoction. If you have used pepper flakes or powder it is important to strain the liquid. Coffee filters work well and water can be boiled first for extra potency.

Mint and Catnip

A natural method of flea beetle control is making teas using mint and catnip. These plants are unattractive to flea beetles and will help keep your garden plants safe.

One more

  • 6 cloves of chopped fine garlic
  • 1 small chopped fine onion
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap

How to prepare:

  • Mix all the above ingredients in 1 quart of warm water.
  • Allow mixture to sit overnight.
  • Strain; pour the liquid into a sprayer bottle.
  • Now, you are loaded for beetles!

Blue Heron Farm


Blue Heron Organic Farm was started in 2001 by Ellery Kimball, who was born and raised a mile from the farm in Lincoln. Now 37, Kimball has been running the farm for 12 years, but began working on the farm 20 years ago when she was a senior in high school. She fell instantly in love with farming and went on to get a bachelor’s in Sustainable Agriculture in Arizona. Now the farm is very productive, employing three farm workers seasonally with the help of many volunteers as well.

I swing by her farm today and had a great conversation about the history of the farm and the way she does farming. I was very happy to see how happy she is doing the farm work and helping the community around. She offered me several suggestions, advises and they were great, open, honest and experience. She is single handedly taking care of 7 acres of land. Always when you want to start the farm, there are so many questions. She answered perfect and sweet with these:

  • Jump right into it
  • Never give up

You can start with as simple as 1 acre and expand that when you can. Or some people start with more land but do it in smaller part of it until they are ready to do on all the land. There is also set of YouTube videos of her talking about the farm and her experience. They are great to watch.


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Cut-callaloo2Callaloo is the name used in the Caribbean to refer to the green leafy vegetable – spinach. It is also used to refer the same leafy green vegetable, sometimes called bhajgee (bah-gee). Callaloo is also the name of a very famous soup like stew made in Trinidad and Tobago.

Most countries in the Caribbean have their own versions of Callaloo. While for many countries, Callaloo is a type of soup, the soup varies from one country to the next. For example, Dominica is very famous of it’s Crab and Callaloo Soup.

In a large country such as Guyana, Callaloo gets complicated because the country boasts a variety of spinach though collectively they are referred to as callaloo. For example, Chinese Pak Choy is marked and sold as a type of callaloo.

Many Jamaicans make Callaloo Rice as an alternative to the boring white rice we eat most times. Others do a Callaloo cook-up, where seasoned Callaloo and rice are mixed with salt fish or pork pieces for flavour. The Trinidadians cook down Callaloo in coconut milk, okras and hot pepper, then blend it into a thick gravy to be eaten with rice. There are many other ways to use Callaloo that you should find appetizing.


  • Tamilnadu: Arai Keerai
  • Andhra: Thotakura
  • Caribbean: Amaranth
  • Hindi: Chaul
  • Chinese Spinach
  • Jamaican Spinach

Health Benefits:

  • High in iron (2x the amount in broccoli)
  • High in calcium (4x the amount in broccoli)
  • Vitamin C
  • Super Rich in antioxidants
  • Great for your immune system

Links (Sources):

Compost Tea

compost-teaWhat is compost tea?

Compost tea is an aerobic water solution that has extracted the microbe population from compost along with the nutrients. In simple terms, it is a concentrated liquid created by a process to increase the numbers of beneficial organisms as an organic approach to plant/soil care.

Why is it so great?

Generally, Compost tea is made by mixing Compost into water and then nutrients for micro-organism to allow bacteria or fungo to multiply rapidly. Ait will be sent through water to keep the water oxygenated. This will help the good bacteria over pathogens (e-coli). This will be put into rest for couple of days. After that you get a liquid you can spray on plants with full of microorganisms which are very important for the growth of plants.


  • Natural, not harmful
  • Improves growth of root system
  • Retains more water
  • Suppresses diseases
  • Improves the taste of vegetables or fruits

Spraying Techniques

It’s really important to spray it within 4-5 hours after you make it. It takes about 12-18 hours to brew couple of gallons compost tea. It’s recommended to use this early in the morning or rain time.

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Insect Pollination for Okra

Okra is primarily a southern vegetable garden plant, grown for its immature pods, which are consumed when cooked either alone or in combination with other foods. Hawthorn and Pollard showed 475 acres devoted to seed production in 1951. Miller indicated yields of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of seed per acre. At a planting rate of 8 pounds of seed per acre, this 475 acres should supply sufficient seed to plant 60,000 to 70,000 acres of okra.


Okra is an upright annual, 3 to 6 feet tall, with a main stem and several branches. It is susceptible to frost but can tolerate hot weather and will grow anywhere cotton will grow. It is usually planted in 3- to 3 1/2 foot rows, the plants about 1 foot apart in the row, after all danger of frost is past. The pointed angular, ribbed or round pods, 3 to 5 inches long, are made up of five to nine carpers, each carper capable of producing about 30 seeds. The okra leaf is similar to that of cotton, 4 to 12 inches across. There are numerous cultivars.


The single showy okra flower, as much as 2 inches across, resembles the cotton flower, with its wide corolla usually made up of five yellow to cream-colored petals. The erect sexual parts consist of a five to nine part style, each part with a capitate stigma, surrounded by the staminal tube bearing numerous filaments . The flower opens shortly after sunrise and remains open until about noon. The petals wilt in the afternoon and usually fall the following day. The anthers dehisce 15 to 20 minutes after the flower opens, and some of the pollen comes in contact with the stigma.

Pollination Requirements:

The okra pollen grain is large with many pores, and every pore is a potential tube source; therefore, many tubes can develop from one pollen grain. Okra is self-fertile, and, when the anthers come in contact with the stigmas, self- pollination may result; however, cross-pollination also occurs. Purewal and Randhawa reported that 100 percent of both bagged and open flowers set fruit, but they did not indicate the degree of seed setting in the two treatments. They also reported 4 to 18 percent cross-pollination.

If the anthers deposit an adequate number of pollen grains on the stigmas to fertilize all of the ovules, and outside agency is not needed to transfer the pollen. However, if an inadequate amount of pollen contacts the stigmas leading to each carper, and some of the ovules are not fertilized, that area around the unfertilized ovule is less well developed.


Okra is not wind pollinated. It is freely visited by honey bees and bumble bees, but the value of insect pollinator visitation is unknown. Studies should be made of seed production and pod development of bagged, selved, and cross-pollinated okra flowers to clarify the pollination requirements and needs for pollinators.

Pollination Recommendations and Practices:


Pollination Problems:

  • You can see flowers but have dried up without producing fruit

A Self-pollinating Plant

Self-pollinating plants, like okra, produce flowers that contain both male and female parts and are fertilized by their own pollen. This means they do not require wind or insects to pollinate properly. Other self-pollinating garden vegetables include lettuce, peas, lima beans and bush and pole beans. Problems occur when insects bring in other types of plant pollen, such as other cultivars of okra, leading to cross-pollination.

Concerns of Cross-Pollination

Cross-pollination is not a concern for vegetables of differing species; it is a concern for those of the same species. Cross-pollination does not affect the fruit during the growing season but the seed for next year’s crop. This impacts home gardeners who grow two different okra cultivars and save seeds for the next growing season, as the seeds saved are likely to contain characteristics of both okra varieties.

Preventing Cross Pollination

Since okra is self-pollinating, it produces a decorative bloom that attracts bees and other insects that travel from one bloom to the next, leading to cross pollination. Covering the flowers just before they open with a cloth bag and keeping them covered while in bloom is one method of prevent cross-pollination. Other methods include growing only one species of vegetable or spacing them. The degree of cross-pollination depends on several factors: the insect population, the growing season, the cultivar and competitive vegetation.


Okra-Komal-21-322Okra, also known as “lady finger” or “gumbo,” is a highly nutritious green edible pod vegetable. Botanically, this perennial flowering plant belongs to the mallow family and named scientifically as Abelmoschus esculentus.

The plant is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions around the world for its fibrous fruits or “pods.” It grows best in well-drained and manure rich soil. The plant bears numerous dark green colored pods measuring about 5-15 cm in length. It takes about 45-60 days to get ready-to-harvest fruits.

Health Benefits:

  • The pods are among the very low calorie vegetables. They provide just 30 calories per 100 g besides containing no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • The rich fiber and mucilaginous content in okra pods help in smooth peristalsis of digested food particles and relieve constipation condition.
  • The pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotenes, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the green vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Fresh pods are the good source of folates; provide about 22% of RDA per 100 g. Consumption of foods rich in folates, especially during the pre-conception period helps decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in the offspring.
  • The gumbo pods are also an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, providing about 36% of daily-recommended levels. Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect the body from harmful free radicals.
  • The veggies are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K.  Vitamin K is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes and is required for strengthening of bones.
  • The pods are an also good source of many important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.

Links (Sources):


31-193Cucumber or Dosakai (Cucumis sativus L. var. sativus)

A round yellow variety popular in Andhra Pradesh. Lemon sized and shaped. Can be used in fresh in salads. It can also be cooked to make pacchadi , with dal in pappu, or dried and fried into Wadiyam. The cucumber originated in India, where a great many varieties have been observed, from Cucumis hystrix. It has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, and was probably introduced to other parts of Europe by the Greeks or Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation appear in France in the 9th century, England in the 14th century, and in North America by the mid-16th century. We used Round Yellow in our iThottam and you can get seeds from http://www.seedsofindia.com/search/cucumber.

Health Benefits:

  • Cucumbers are very low in calories, have minimal amounts of fats and no cholesterol.
  • Have a very high water content and are know to have diuretic properties, and thus help in improving the kidney and bladder diseases. Eating cucumbers regularly in summer months prevents dehydration.
  • Contains ascorbic acid(vitamin c) and caffenic acid, so when applied topically, it soothes skin irritations, sunburns, reduces inflammation and rehydrates dry skin.
  • Good source of silica, which is found in connective tissues like muscles, tendons, ligaments,cartilage, and bone. Regular consumption of cucumber improves the health and complexion of skin, and healthy hair.
  • Moderate source of vitamin c, a natural water soluble antioxidant. It enhances the body’s immune system, increases the elasticity of skin and blood vessels, and prevents bruising of the skin.
  • Moderate source of folic acid and vitamins A, which are essential for maintaining a healthy heart and eye sight.
  • Good source of other minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese, which play a very important role in maintaining proper metabolic activities of the body.
  • Good source of potassium and very low in sodium. This helps in lowering the blood pressure.
  • Very good source of dietary fiber. It adds roughage to the contents of the intestines, promotes satiety, promotes the health of the colon, and also helps in relieving constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disorders, etc.
  • Raw cucumber juice also soothes heart burn and acidity, also helps to control the eczema, arthritis, and gout.

Links (Sources):


Pumpkin-Jade-Prince-NEW-FOR-2013-243-320Pumpkin (Jade Prince) is a hybrid variety shows vigorous growth, good resistance to viruses and diseases and is prolific. The fruit weighs 3-4 kg and has a long shelf life. Flesh is orange-yellow in color, firm and has an excellent sweet taste. Maturity is around 85-95 days from sowing, suitable for both immature green fruit and fully matured fruit.

Pumpkin fruit is one of the widely grown vegetables that is incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins. This humble backyard low calorie vegetable contains vitamin A, flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as leutin, xanthin, and carotenes in abundance.

Health Benefits

  • Low calorie
  • An excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin
  • Highest amount of Vitamin A

Links (Sources):

Gawar Beans

57Gawar Bean (Cyamopsis tetragonolobus) This crunchy bean is low in calories and popular throughout India. The plant is extremely hardy and grows easily even in drought-like conditions. We cannot ship this product to Australia.

In India, cluster beans are commonly used in vegetable curries and lentil dals.
Unlike the regular green beans, cluster beans have a slightly bitter taste. To tone down the bitterness, freshly grated coconut, or tamarind, jaggery, and tomatoes are used.

Guar gum is used in nutritional supplements such as glyconutrients. Guar gum powder is a water-soluble fiber, and is used as a laxative. The fiber helps keep the digestive tract healthy and regular. Studies have shown that it’s effective in treating diseases like Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and colitis, and also in reducing cholesterol.

Health Benefits:

  • Rich in Protein
  • Fiber

Papdi Bean

Surti-Papdi---Chandni---NEW-FOR-2011199-231Papdi Bean (Surti Papdi – Chandni) is an edible podded bean is especially popular in the State of Gujarat. The bean is cooked with spices and makes a great accompaniment with Indian breads like poori. It is also an essential for the vegetable medley dish called undhiyu. Seeds are pale brown in color.

A summer delight. Usually every summer in India, Indians get a surplus supply of fresh green beans which are delicious to eat and have unique taste. The whole beans look almost like green peas with shells on. The shells are harder than green peas. Vibrantly delicious flavor, wonderful texture and a wealth of health-promoting nutrients.


Health Benefits:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B
  • Manganese
  • Dietary fiber
  • Folate
  • Thiamin
  • Vitamin A
  • Phosphorous
  • Vitamin B6
  • Protein
  • Niacin
  • Magnesium
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Potassium