We have been constantly considering the question of “What to grow ! ” so that the soil improves and the damage done to the land over the years is healed. A lot of ideas crossed us, all the way from green manure crops like gliricidia or daincha to laying the land fallow for sometime.
Somehow we decided to grow Tuar Dal (Pigeon Pea) in half of the farm. Sarso (Mustard) grew on it’s own at the onset of winter while we simply watched. It was only later we realized that how wonderful these two crops are. Anyone doing natural farming will find these two crops to be best of friends in the fields. Here is why –
Tuar Dal (Pigeon Pea)
- Tuar Dal adapts to wide range of variations in rains and weather. On one side it can withstand some level of water logging, on other side it is drought resistant.
- Tuar dal is one of the best medicine for the wound of “tilling” on the farms. As it is an 8 months crop, it reduces the need for tilling to half. Secondly, it’s root go deep have the capacity to break the tillage pan. (hardened layer formed due to continuous tilling)
- It is a fantastic green manure crop. During the vibrant vegetative growth , it sheds a large amount of flowers and leaves.
- It tastes fantastic ! Eat it raw , make curries out of its green pods or make your favorite Dal tadka after it has dried up. In some places people eat it’s leaves too !
- It is a very good source of protein and many other nutrients.
- Tuar dal serves as great fodder and bee forage. It also attracts butterflies.
- Once sown, Tuar dal can be harvested upto 5 years if care is taken.
Sarso (Mustard Seed)
- Sarso grows on it’s own once as it’s seed can stay in soil for years and come alive when the time is right. So, we just need to sow it once.
- It’s roots also penetrate deep into soil improving soil structure.
- It’s a medicinal plant having multiple uses. (leaves, seeds both ! )
Sarso Da Sag, the traditional curry eaten in winters is both healthy and yummy.
- It’s smell keeps a lot of pests and insects away, so it makes perfect crop for inter-cropping with other crops.
- Cows love the leaves too !
- Requires no support from farmer – it is irrigated naturally and require very little water, there are hardly any disease that catch sarso. (Few common pests like Maho sometimes affects sarso, which is cured mostly by casual spray of ash ! )
Note : Please remember that these points have come from our experience at the Madman’s farm in Central India (MP), therefore these crops may have some different behavior in different climate and location.