The genetics that comprises India’s rich array of veggies, fruits, herbs, grains, and nuts comes in many interesting shapes and colors. But the example that instantly springs to mind (probably because of its popularity in recent times) is the plant genetics originating from the 500-mile mountain range of Hindu Kush. In this magical land, conditions have been shaping the physical evolution of plants for thousands of years, providing a keen indoor gardener with an ideal crop. The fertile mountain environment means the vegetation can flourish in hydroponic environments, and with the right sort of hybrid seed, you could be enjoying a much more lavish yield.
India has something for outdoor gardeners as well. If you are open-minded in considering preventative pest control, flowers containing natural insecticidal properties, called pyrethrums, can be used as companion plants to repel insects like spider mites. Some organic broccoli farmers use this technique and say it is effective. The flowers don’t compete with your main plants, and they don’t grow tall enough to block any light. Even planting a small number of pyrethrums can be effective. Remember, you don’t need an insect-fatal dose to have a repellent effect. Your goal in companion planting is not to remove all living insects from your growing area, it is to attempt to create a natural equilibrium of pest and plant. There are also many pyrethrum recipes for homemade insecticides that are said to work well and are typically not harmful to the ecosystem that breaks them down. Many Indian seed companies sell this very well-known variety.
Other Indian seeds are also well worth ordering. Among the most interesting of herbs is the Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), or Holy Basil. To Hindus, this plant is sacred and is worshipped throughout India. It serves a wide range of medicinal purposes, such as treating diabetes and reducing cholesterol levels, and is also a powerful antioxidant.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), or more commonly referred to in India as bitter gourd, is a vine that yields a very strange-looking fruit, almost like a very bumpy cucumber. It gets its name from the bitterness of its taste. This is also widely grown in India, used for both eating and medicinal purposes. Whether you are preparing for the spring growing season and want to test a different seed hybrid to increase your productivity, or you are just hoping to add some aroma to your backyard, there are countless Indian seed companies that provide a wealth of information on their Web sites. Whatever you’re looking for, there are just the right genetics to suit your needs and expectations. So give India some thought next time you’re considering a change of growing action. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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Thursday, 11 October 2012