Gardening the Bhutanese Way


Introduction to Horticulture

The term 'Horticulture' is derived from the Latin word, 'Hortus' meaning garden and 'Cultura' which means cultivation. In simple terms, it can be defined as the art and science of smart gardening or plant production for both beauty and utility.

 It is also defined as the branch of agriculture which deals with the cultivation, production and utilization of horticultural crops like fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, ornamental and flowering plants, spices and condiments, plantation crops, medicinal and aromatic plants and avenue trees.

It is also an art, science, technology and business involved in intensive plant cultivation for human use. Horticultural science encompasses all of the pure sciences- mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology and biology. The main divisions of horticulture are:

1. Olericulture: the production, storage, processing and marketing of vegetables.

2. Pomology:   deals with the production technologies of fruit crops.

3. Floriculture:  the cultivation and management practices of cut flowers, flowering plants, foliage plants and their use in ornamental decoration.

4. Plant propagation/ Nursery crop culture: the propagation and production of seedlings, young trees, shrubs and vines as well as ground covers, turf, ornamental plants and other crops in nurseries for landscaping, interior plant scaping or out planting.
5. Organic Farming: the production system which excludes the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.
6. Plant breeding: It deals with the breeding techniques of various horticultural crops for yielding a crop with all the desirable characters like high yielding, disease resistance, tolerance to adverse climatic conditions, etc.
7. Landscape/ornamental horticulture: includes the study of designing, construction and care of landscapes taking into consideration the proper choice of plants and aesthetic effects for homes, business and public places.
8. Entomology: deals with the study of insect pests, the damage they pose to crops and he preventive and control measures to be taken.
9. Arboriculture: study of selection, planting, care and removal of individual trees, shrubs, vines and other perennial woody plants.
1o.Viticulture: deals with production and management of grapes.
11. Weed management: the study of nature of various types of noxious weeds inhabiting the agricultural fields and the management practices to keep their population at levels below those causing economic damage to crops.
12. Post Harvest management: concerned with maintaining the quality or shelf life of the horticultural produce after harvest.


Visit to Ramoji Film City

The chilly morning was greeted by an exquisite peacock. All my classmates yelled out of excitement. It stood on a distant rock with its longer than usual tail but that did not pose any hindrance in taking its flight. Rather it added to its profound beauty.
When we reached the much awaited destination, the Ramoji  Film City, the largest film city in the world and one of the wonders of the world as we have been told, most of us were stunned by the entrance fee. Rupees 600 was not so easy to manage in a life of a student. Moreover that being the very first day of our week long educational tour, majority of the group denied. And our excitement came to an abrupt end when the visit was cancelled.
I expressed my disappointment to our professor but in a proper way. This led to a quick discussion with the other professor accompanied by a serious discussion with the rest of the group. A heart thrilling and  witty conclusion sprang out and no sooner were we strolling through the entrance gate.
We were led in a bus and as the exciting scenes came into view, everyone’s mouth opened in the words of “Wows and Kevu…Kekas”, the latter being in Telugu which means the same.
The site and the landscape designs were simply impeccable. We were given a ride in groups of four through a cave like structure where animals of different kinds greeted with their own cries. People in various costumes and styles waved their humble gesture of welcoming a stranger  which overwhelmed us. The illusionary waves of ocean on the walls along with the gentle movement of whales drew our complete attention.
Then we hustled to the games station like swarms of bees. Even our professor didn’t fail to give his attendance there. The most terrifying yet the most exciting one was our moment in the Ranger. It rotated between its two supports. With each swing, its angle of rotation increased until we were swung upside down. For a moment, I wished I shouldn’t have come or else wished for it to come to a halt. We were swung forward and backward simultaneously and held upside down or in standing position alternatively when we reached the peak of its height. My thoughts of pendulum swung between elation and fear for several minutes later.
A man in his mid-twenties escorted us around in a bus. It seemed practically impossible to cover all aspects of the film city accommodated in an area of 674 hectares; nevertheless, the man’s amplified voice filled the bus in a view to convey all that he could. I could see that the pace of the movement of his lips were in accordance with the velocity of the bus. Our heads rotated on its axis from right to left and left to right to catch a glimpse of what he was saying. Though the narrations were in Telugu, my two years of mingling with Telugu people have somehow equipped me to understand, though not fully.
In fact, everything in the film city is 75 percent artificial which means only 25 percent accounts for original. The artistically built buildings lay without any dwellings; the hospitals where the actors are the doctors and treatment at free of cost but without assurance of recovery; the banks where only deposits is entertained and no withdrawals; various metallic structures meant for blasting and fighting scenes; the central jail for the villains to be locked up momentarily; the marriage ground with an accommodation capacity of 2500 people; the IGI Airport for only departures and no arrivals and our two minutes journey to the western world was so exhilarating. Clumps of small villages along with ordinary shops and several buildings especially designed for indoor shooting were also a common feature.
The film city has also vast stretches of lands designed for aesthetic purpose as well as for various shooting scenes. The fake Delhi-Mumbai highway and the road with dense coverage of forests on both sides where horrifying and kidnapping scenes were to be shot; a garden filled with cacti and succulents for emotional scenes and the suicide point were also a feature of display.
On top of that, it has the replica of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal gardens of Delhi, the Brindavine gardens of Mysore, the Japanese garden, each depicting their own style and unique feature.
The Butterfly Garden housing several of them showcased the extent of their intimacy with nature. Butterflies with varying shapes, sizes, colors and the peculiarity of designs on their wings were the very mark of their identification. Some would blissfully and irresistibly suck the nectar while a few would hover in the air for sometime in deciding which flower should they visit next.
Another wonder feature was the Bonsai, a garden with miniature form of trees which is in utter contradiction to their size in nature. Giant trees like the Banyan tree, Ficus and various fruit trees were maintained at a height of less than 50cm or so. In addition, various styles like Cascading, Clasp-to-stone, Upright and Ikadibuki styles were depicted.
 The ‘Garden of Colors’, with a riot of warm and cool colors brought yet another unprecedented heart thrilling moment. The flawless beauty mesmerized me and I was speechless and as still as a statue amid them.
The course of the sun was wiped away by time and as its glistening rays waved goodbye to the enlightened glory it has created during the day, I was there with a half- hearted elation. Though contended by the fabulous experience, a day was not enough to explore the whole lot of the film city. This tinged a part of my heart with dissatisfaction.
Very often, I found myself bouncing between the ornamental plants and our professor in an attempt to find out its unique name and have it crammed simultaneously into my cell’s memory card along with the shot I have taken. The real touch with nature and the sheer aesthetic value that it showers on us is so intense that it can bring unprecedented thrill and joy to our heart. Nature is wonderful and we have a role to play in it so that it continues to flourish and provide us our needs for times immemorial.

As the indiscriminate use of synthetic chemicals is at the rage of augmentation, the concern of food security and ecological balance has become a major issue. Besides sustainable production, it is equally important to maintain food hygiene and safety both at the time of consumption as well as production.

Pesticides are not only the solution to pest problems but often they are the causes of the problems themselves. The incessant use of chemicals would not only lead to chemical residue problems in soils and deteriorate soil health, but also lead to the development of resistant strains of pests.

Not only that, insect resurgence, the sudden or abnormal increase in pest population is a common phenomenon often following a pesticide application.  Secondary pest outbreak is also a notable ill-effect. More than anything, it kills the natural enemies and thereby disrupts the ecological balance.

In addition to that, certain chemicals being highly liposoluble can accumulate in the adipose tissues of animals. Human beings are not an exception as there are several incidences of casualties. The Minimata disease of Mercuric poisoning in Japan, the hydrogen cyanide poisoning in Bihar case, the Arsenical poisonings are so evidential. The biomaccumulation and biomagnification of toxic chemical residues would prove highly lethal to living organisms.

The book entitled, “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson depicts the extent of harm the use of pesticides have inflicted. The lethal effect of the large scale application of DDT pesticide in pest control has deprived the valley of its usual cacophony and the blissful tunes of the spring birds and has made it as silent as a dead valley.

Nevertheless, nature has in store its own set of natural enemies of every pest or pathogen. It is equipped with its self- regulatory or its own balance mechanism to maintain the natural ecosystem. The so called predators and parasitoids has been identified, mass multiplied, and released on inoculative or inundative basis. This is a recent development in the field of horticulture.

For example, the beautiful ladybird beetles that we often spot strolling up and down the leaves are nothing but in keen search of their prey. They are predaceous on almost all Lepidpteran insects, the most destructive order infesting a number of horticultural crops. Befriend them, carry them to the laboratory, mass multiply and release them into the infested field or gift them to farmers in need for they are none but farmer’s friends.

They would be more than happy to carry out the task entrusted to them. I can assure you that they will perform their task so efficiently and host specifically without demanding for wages in return. In fact, the expenses incurred on the purchase of pesticides and labor charges can also be curtailed.

Another set of organisms called parasitoids can also be employed for the same task. They depend on their hosts for completing only a certain stages of their life cycle. For instance, Trichogramma brasiliensis, an egg parasitoid, deposits its eggs on the host and its progeny emerge from the host egg. A larval parasitoid, Bracon hebator, deposits eggs on host larva and its later instars emerge from host larva.  Pupal parasitoid, Brachymeria nosotoi, is yet another such example.

In addition to that, entomopathogenic fungi, Trichoderma viride, can be formulated with talc powder and carboxy methyl. The formulation can be dried in the sun, grinded and the resultant powder is packed and supplied to farmers. This affords effective biological control against a number of fungal pathogens.

All these are a few classical examples of biological control amongst the existing innumerable list. The potentiality of these could be exploited by the horticulturists and agriculturists and subsequently employed in biocontrol. Indeed, they have a role to bridge the gap between research findings and the practical utility in the field for farmers. If this is done, our sole objective of ensuring a safer and healthier food, and the globe in which we dwell a happier and a better place to live in is achieved.

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