Gardening the Bhutanese Way

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The National Organic Research Centre (RDC-OA), Yusipang.

RDC-OA Campus.

The new Letter Head of the Centre.

The Renewable Natural Resources-Research & Development Centre (RNR-RDC, Yusipang) is labeled with a new name, Research & Development Centre-Organic Agriculture, the only organic research centre in the country. The centre has been functioning as an organic centre for more than a decade ever since its declaration in 2004. It will no longer be functioning with the national mandate of forestry research as it was till date. Accordingly, the centre is now placed under the Department of Agriculture, which was previously under the Department of Forest & Park Services.

With the advent of all the recent changes in the organizational structure and it having secured a new place, I am anticipating for more focused, prioritized, need-based research activities that will cater to the challenges of the farming community.

With the centre having secured a new name and letter head lately, I take privilege in briefly reporting about my organic pest management trial. After having performed the trial last year with significant result, I was over ambitious to the attempt of repeating it twice this year. That didn't work out owing to my full-time engagement in the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition. I managed to layout the trial as soon as I was relieved of the responsibility.

My second attempt was counteracted by incessant downpour and a disease named club root. Club root is caused by a soil-borne pathogen which survives in soil for more than 10 years even in the absence of host. It is characterized by club-like swelling of the roots, which in turn disrupts the natural uptake of water and required nutrients through the xylem. The infected plants exhibits wilting during the daytime. Crop rotation with non-Brassica crops and liming (since pathogen multiplies rapidly in acidic soils) are recommended. Though I established my trial in a plot which was previously grown with potatoes, it did not spare my crop.

Except for the aforementioned hurdles, my treatments under study did extremely well in guarding my crop from pest infestation. Weekly spray of garlic brew, stinging nettle leaf extract, wood vinegar and Artemisia leaf extract kept pests at bay and I was able to harvest a clean, healthy lot of cabbage heads as was the case last year too. Unlike last year's result where stinging nettle was found to be the most effective botanical repellent with corresponding highest yield (details can be accessed from the blog link:, this year's data shows garlic brew treated plots with minimum number of plants with insect feeding damage followed closely by stinging nettle and the highest yield recorded in artemisia leaf extract treated plots.

The one and the only plant with major feeding damage in the entire plot.
A Slight mark of insect infestation; minimal damage to cabbage head.

 It is also my aim to access whether the impact could be due to certain abiotic conditions like weather parameters. Last year, I conducted the trial early in the season and harvested it by first week of June. Exactly the opposite, I established my trial in the 3rd week of June(peak monsoon) and harvested in the last week of August this year. In both the cases, I was able to reap my crop without any severe infestation of pest. There weren't any case of unmarketable produce.

                                          Healthy Cabbage Heads.

Glimpse of fresh, healthy harvested cabbage heads.

I also took the positive criticism I received on the frequency of the bio-repellent preparation into inclusion this year. I prepared the bio-repellents weekly last year to retain the active ingredient and the efficacy of the repellents. However, I resorted to a single time preparation of the bio-repellents in the beginning, which were then stored and sprayed during the entire duration of the crop. This seems to have an equal impact as that of the bio-repellents being prepared on weekly basis.

In my upcoming attempt, I wish to study in a greater detail the active ingredients present in each of these botanicals; the mechanism by which they exhibit pest repelling properties and most important of all, determine the most effective rate of their application. Keeping in mind the lessons I have learnt and to curb the excuses(though some were inevitable) I have made, I am determined to embark on my next attempt with a greater degree of alertness, cautiousness and seriousness.

If we are to gear towards our Organic Mission by 2020, or gradually thereafter; I think it is imperative that we find out other alternatives for synthetic agro-chemicals. This would be challenging but it would usher us with  numerous benefit in the long run like minimized environmental degradation, enhanced and sustained soil health, reduced health hazards and ultimately the harmonious co-existence of all the living beings.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mermen:The Compassionate Warriors; A Bhutanese Tale as never before...

A fictitious story, authored by Sangay Wangchuk on the evolution of the Mermen and the Mermaids. It narrates on as to how the mer-people had to struggle to find a place for their existence after their blood brothers on land drove them away. But luck greeted their palm when they discovered the sea; their ultimate and destined home thereafter. But their brothers on the land casted their lustful eyes on the marine dwellers.  They were saturated with greed that they encroached further as the self-proclaimed rulers of sea.

Many a times, the mer-warriors lowered their heads and glimmered their compassionate gaze upon their land brothers. However, many mer-people fell victim to the wicked human spears-dipped in despicable venom. Their heavenly dwelling of sea was turning out to be lethal as the selfish humans dumped innumerable toxic wastes. Many of the exotic sea creatures have been wiped out as a result.

The whole account of the tale is crafted on the wickedness of Captain Turner; the name 'Turner' implying 'Turner of truth'; twisting tales to suit his own needs. His pointed war-missile like nose; bushy eyebrows and crooked lips articulated nothing but disdain and contempt. And he buries the truth under his false facial mask while accusing the innocent mer-people.

Human greed wore its hideous cloak at the sight of the beautiful pearls that adorned the mermaids. The Mer-Queen; whose eyes twinkled like rubies, so deep, so meaningful- manifested a star of hope in the darkest and meanest hour the king and the mer-kingdom was going through- the war against the humans.

No matter to what extent the mer-warriors exhibited their gentle nature immersed in compassion, their counter brothers casted their blind eyes . So they were left with no option than to challenge back and to restore peace and harmony in their aquatic life. The affectionate mermaids wove protective shields out of sturdy skins of exotic sea creatures for their husbands.

When the real day for the mighty war set in, even the clouds wailed; cuddled in the arms of the hills fearing the wrath of the ocean. Many lives were lost in the conflict and before long; before the fury of the sea could bury every human, Jimmy; a young officer under captain Turner and Alice; a journalist plays a miraculous role in reversing the entire course of fate for everyone; the mer-people as well as the humans.

A suspense crammed tale crafted on insatiable human greed; the shadows of which obscure the innate human goodness. It is a tale imbibed in value;  a call for balanced and holistic co-existence of humans; the most superior beings with all other beings and our mother nature.

As I flipped through each pages of the book, I felt as if I was watching a movie; with the scenic details and the characters reflected thereupon. The greatest benefit I inadvertently derived by reading this book is my realization that human desire can never be satiated, even at death bed and at the cost of brutally destroying others. It had a subsequent impact on my way of visualizing materialistic things and the very way of my thinking.