Thursday, 22 September 2016

Experience in growing Roselle

I started growing crops as a volunteer in the farm of a non-profit organisation in Singapore in June 2015. Where possible, I attempt to use permaculture and natural farmning approaches there.

I'll record my experience of growing roselle in the farm:

We grew our first batch of roselle in June 2015. The seedlings were transplanted at the end of June 2015 to the plots around the aquaponics ponds. They grew well except for the few plants nearest to the (now) tool shed. These few plants were badly deprived of morning sunlight due to blockage of the plants grown by another volunteer. We had good harvest of good quality roselle calyces for two months.  Black bone powder was used by sprinkling lightly around the plants once every few weeks during flowering and fruiting periods. Composting tea was applied twice a month before flowering.

In February 2016, the second batch of roselle were grown using the seeds saved from the first batch. Seedlings were transplanted to two grow beds which received good morning sunlight. The plants grew healthily until in April 2016, when one of the roselle plants suddenly died in a day or two, with leaves drooping and turning dry and yellow. After a few days, I pulled out the whole plant, but the surrounding plants also got the same problem within a few days. I then tried to leave the dead plants on the plot, it took a longer time (10 to 20 days) to get the same problem. To me, it is highly probable that the problem had been caused by root knot nematodes in the soil. The second batch of roselle can be considered as a failure, although a few plants were able to resist the disease and produced some harvest.

Before I grow the next batch of roselle, I will grow French Marigold (Tagetes patula) in the plots. It is well known that French Marigold can effectively suppress root knot nematodes.

Believing that the second generation roselle plants were prone to root knot nematodes, and also that the quality of the calyces was not so good as the first batch,  I planted a few roselle plants (in early June 2016) from my first generation seeds in the Permaculture plot because I am afraid the the second generation seeds have been hybridized by the roselle plants of another variety growing very near my first batch.

Very near to Permaculture plot,  another volunteer is growing roselle of the other variety nearby. I therefore waited until her plants have reached maturity and bearing flowers before I planted my roselle plants from my first generation seeds, hoping that although I could not separate the two varieties by space (I do not have the authority to ask her to remove her plants),  I could at least separate them by time.

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