Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 48, Tuesday, December 13, 2011



gardens in WINTER

It is evident on chilly nights and slightly dewy mornings that winter has come calling again for her yearly visits. While many of us are glad to once again be able to don the long sleeves and woollen clothing, there are a few who are worried about what the change would mean to their year-long projects.

Winter gardening has its own style within the realm of the common gardening phenomena -- pruning, planting, applying fertilisers, insect control and such others. However, a little diligence and know-how on the gardener's part can easily help a garden survive through a lazy winter, ready to blossom again in full glory when spring makes her appearance.

In Bangladesh the winters are dry with dew setting in at night. These are the two winter characteristics a gardener needs to be aware of. In order to ensure that the permanent trees of your garden continue to get replenishment, it is necessary to loosen the soil around them two months prior to the start of winter (around September). This will allow moisture and humidity to penetrate and bind with the soil, helping the sleeping trees survive.

Soil changing may also be necessary and this too should be done a month or two prior to the onset of winter. If you have not already changed or loosened the soil of your permanent trees, do not do it now. The soil is already tight and the weather dry hence any digging will split the plants' roots.

Pruning is another precautionary necessity for the permanent plants. This needs to be done at least a week or two before the weather change occurs (around mid October) and allows the plants to remain fresh.

Insects can be a bit of a problem during the winter, hence weekly pesticide spraying is a good idea, but one needs to be careful to not over-acidify the soil. Good observation skills are hence necessary. Certain plants attract more insects than others; pod plants for example.

Winter has its own set of flowers. Moushumi, Dalia, Cosmos, Petunia and Roses will look good in your winter garden and thrive even with comparatively little care. Arrange your winter candidates in groups, this looks nicer than several intermittent plants.

Also keep one or two tougher plants in each cluster of cold hardy exotic plants, so that, if and when the weak fail, there is always back up from these tougher plants. Creepers are also a good idea for the winter as they grow fast and can cover for the relative emptiness of the garden.

Fruit seeds can be planted now though they will not flower or yield till summer. Fruit plants will require almost regular watering but once again observation is necessary as over-watering will cause the root area to flood, cutting out oxygen supply to the roots.

One of the most important things to do in the garden during winter is to imagine or visualise your next planting scheme. Based on the plants you are planning to grow this year, imagine them growing in the border, clear the borders of last year's debris.

There is a very good chance that there are parts of the garden that did not quite work last summer. Spend time in your garden studying problem areas. You will come up with solutions. The more time you spend in your garden getting to know it, the more answers it offers.

By Raisaa Tashnova
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Orange fiesta

If you visit any fruit market anywhere in the country, your eyes will be dazzled by the brightest colour of this kind of lemon. The colour of orange outshines any other colour in a fruit market.

Oranges originated in southern China, north-eastern India, and perhaps south-eastern Asia (formerly Indochina). The top three orange-producing countries however are Brazil, the United States, and Mexico.

Oranges vary in flavour from sweet to sour. The fruit is commonly peeled and eaten fresh, or squeezed for its juice. It has a thick, bitter rind that is usually discarded, but can be processed into animal feed by removing water, using pressure and heat. It is also used in certain recipes as flavouring or a garnish. The outer-most layer of the rind can be grated or thinly veneered with a tool called a zester, to produce orange zest. The zest is popular in cooking because it contains the oil glands and has a strong flavour similar to the fleshy inner part of the orange.

In Bangladesh, oranges are available in fruit markets from October and reigns till February. Orange production has a long history in Bangladesh. The citrus fruit is produced in ten districts -- Thakurgaon, Panchagarh, Gazipur, Tangail, Mymensingh, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, and Bandarban.

The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has undertaken a project of orange production to produce 16 crore oranges by 2011. However, while visiting some fruit markets in Dhaka over the last week, it was learnt that indigenous oranges have not yet reached the market.

Mohammed Mohsin, an orange retailer at the Mirpur fruit market said, "The oranges produced in Bangladesh are not adequate to meet the demand. That is one reason for their failure in reaching Dhaka's market on time. We are selling the imported oranges from India, China and Bhutan."

Oranges from India and China are dominating the market now. The retail fruit sellers pass off small-sized Bhutanese oranges as indigenous fruits. The true indigenous oranges are sold in the markets of the districts where they are produced. The imported oranges are sold in Bangladeshi markets for Tk.90 to Tk.180 per kg while the price of a quarter dozen of local variants is fixed between Tk.50 to Tk.60 and sold in local markets only.

The demand for the juicy and delicious Bangladeshi oranges is huge. But the orange cultivators face two major problems regarding its production and marketing. Firstly, there are lots of problems regarding irrigation in the hilly areas of the country; as there is no surface water in such places, the farmers have to depend on deep tube wells.

Secondly, the orange cultivators have to market their products by carrying them manually from the remote areas to the local market. Due to a lack of adequate and developed infrastructure, they cannot market the indigenously produced oranges in other districts or, more importantly, in Dhaka. So, infrastructural development is urgently needed for the expansion of local orange farming.

It is clear that oranges from India, China and Bhutan have captured most of the market share in Bangladesh. The retail fruit sellers buy these oranges at wholesale prices from the fruit markets at Badamtali, Sadarghat.

By Mahtabi Zaman


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