Script 9.8

Notes to broadcasters

Information on this topic was requested by DCFRN Participants in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Peru, Philippines, Uganda and Venezuela.

It is suggested that, before using this information, you read the note at the end of the item concerning other related DCFRN items.

1. This is the first DCFRN item that has been entirely prepared from recorded material and notes sent in by a Network Participant. We hope that it will encourage more Participants to send us information in this way for use in future DCFRN Packages.

2. If you would like further information on the points raised in this item, you could write to the interviewee, Mr. Sarath Perera. His address is on page 1 of this transcript.

3. For maximum benefit to your audience, you might consider using the information in this item in association with information from one or more previous DCFRN items. They are:

“Thinning Carrots in Your Garden” – Package 8, item 1D.

“Vegetable Gardening” – Package 7

Item 2 (part 1 – “first steps”)

Item 3 (part 2 – “planting seeds in a garden and in a seedling bed”)

Item 4 (part 3 – “care of seedling plants in a seedling bed”)

Item 5 (part 4 – “transplanting seedling plants”)

“More Vegetables in Your Garden” – Package 3, item 9.


George Atkins

We at this radio station are part of a world-wide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, Massey-Ferguson, and the University of Guelph.

Through this Network we bring you information on ways to increase food supplies for your family, or to sell — ways that other farmers have used successfully.

On this program today we have some very practical hints that you could try in your garden to increase the yield of such vegetables as tomatoes and eggplant or brinjals. Here’s George Atkins.

All over the world there are people who have found ways to get the plants in their garden to produce more and better vegetables. One of these people is Sarath Perera in Sri Lanka. Today we’ll hear about some of his methods.

To start with, he has found that seedling vegetable plants will grow better in a seedling bed if the soil in the bed has something special mixed in with it. What he mixes in with the soil is half-burned rice husks (paddy husks)! Sarath told Sri Lankan farm broadcasters Hewavitharana and Sriskandarajah what he means by half burned rice husks.

When you say “half-burned” — it’s not completely burned rice husks — it’s not ash, it should be brown colour, half-burned — slightly burned.

Is it more like charred rice husk?

That’s right, it has given us very good results.

So how do you mix these half-burned rice husks with soil for your seedling bed? Is there something else you should mix in as well?

Say you’re going to mix up 10 buckets of soil mixture for a small seedling bed. Here’s how to make it.

You need 4 buckets of topsoil, 4 buckets of compost and 2 buckets of half-burned rice husks. This has given us very fine seedling plants which grow very well indeed after transplanting.

So Sarath’s soil mixture for a seedling bed that will grow strong healthy vegetable seedlings is made up by mixing:

* 4 buckets of good topsoil

* 4 buckets of good compost and

* 2 buckets of half-burned rice husks

And now, he has a special hint about how to handle young seedling tomato plants when you are transplanting them from the seedling bed to your garden.

At the time of transplanting, this plant is, say about 2 to 3 weeks old. Still it’s a very young tender plant and the stem has some hairs on it. If you hold it by the stem, its hairs get damaged. You can’t see it at the time, but later on, the stem can start rotting right at the place your finger s held it. so the best way to hold it is with the leaves. You can hold the plant by the leaves, never hold the small plant by the stem.

Sarath has done a special test on handling seedling tomato plants. In one plot he planted seedling plants without touching the stems, and for the other plot he held the plants

by the stems when he was transplanting them. When the tomatoes were ready to pick, the plants he had held by the stems didn’t produce as many good tomatoes as the others he had held only by the leaves.

So now you know why Sarath says not ever to hold your young tomato plants by the stems.

But now, what about the place where you will be planting your young seedling plants? Sarath says that tomato and eggplants will grow better and they’ll yield more if the soil you plant them in is good soil and well cultivated, quite deep.

These plants have a very deep root system so the soil must be fertile at the top and also at the bottom, so that the root system can grow right down into the soil.

There are a lot of advantages:

* for one thing, often irrigation is not necessary,

* and another thing, the root system can take up all the nutrients from the deep soil — this has helped in increasing yield.

Hewavitharana Sarath
, you said “deep”. What do you mean by deep? How deep should this good soil be?

Well say a tomato plant grows to be 2 feet (60 centimetres) high. That is what you see above the ground. The root system can also grow about 2 feet (60 centimetres) down into the ground. So if soil conditions down there are very hard, these roots can’t grow deep into the soil — so you have to make the soil very loose so the root system can grow down into the soil, say about 1-1/2 to 2 feet (45 to 60 centimetres).

If somebody plants one or two plants or maybe five plants in the garden and isn’t able to plow so deep, what can he or she do about this deep root system?

Well it’s as simple as this: you can dig a deep hole, say 1-1/2 feet (45 centimetres) by 1-1/2 feet and 2 feet (60 centimetres) deep and you can fill the hole with a mixture of compost and soil — that’s all you need to do. Then do the planting. This way, you’ll get a very good root system. That can result in a very high yield.

This is not only for tomatoes. Also for brinjals that some people call eggplant. Eggplant also has a very good root system. So when growing eggplant it will be the same thing and you’ll get very good results by planting them in very deep soil with compost mixed well with the soil so the root system can develop very deep into the soil.

Now finally, when the time comes for you to harvest your eggplant or brinjals, Sarath has something to tell us about that very strong stem that holds the fruit of the eggplant onto the rest of the plant. He says you should be careful not to try to break the fruit off by pulling it. If you do, you may pull so hard that the plant’s important deep roots will be loosened in the soil. “That’s bad”, he says.

And it can give a very big shock to the plant because the root system can be damaged. So it’s always better not to pull from the plant, always to use a knife, a blade or scissors or something like that to cut the stem of the fruit when you take it from the plant. This way, you are not harming the plant and you can increase the yield.

So there you have four good hints from Sarath Perera for increasing yields from your vegetable garden.

Our thanks to farm broadcasters Hewavitharana and Sriskandarajah in Sri Lanka for getting that information for us.

Serving “Agriculture, the Basic Industry”, this is George Atkins.


Interviewers: Sunil Hewavitharana, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Farm Broadcasting Service, Dept. of Agriculture, P.O. Box 636, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka.

Sris Sriskandarajah, Agricultural Officer, Farm Broadcasting Service, Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 636, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka.

 Interviewee: Sarath Perera, Instructor, Agricultural Training Institute, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka.