Cactus garden gives new life to printing press owner; fetches upto Rs 6,000 per plant
Kozhikode: Cactus plants were only a hobby for Thiruthiyad native Balakrishnan as he was passionate about gardening since a young age. When his means of income through printing press, which he has been running for over 40 years, was affected with COVID crisis, Balakrishnan decided to make the passion a livelihood. Thus he set up rain shelter on the terrace of his house and the printing press and is now growing hundreds of cactus plants.
Earlier, Balakrishnan used to grow roses and hibiscus. He started growing cactus in 2014. He collected different varieties from within and outside the country. Seeds and plants were purchased from Japan, China, Indonesia and Malaysia via online. A share of his income was spent for this purpose. Balakrishnan's wife Baby, thier children Rahul and Gokul also help him with the cactus gardening.
Over 100 varieties
Balakrishnan owns a wide variety of cactus plants including Gymnocalycium, Echinopsis, Astrophytum, Euphorbia, Mammillaria, Cereus, Rebutia, Caralluma, Copiapoa and the like. They are of different shapes ranging from vines to balls. Some of them have flowers too.
The price of cactus ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 6,000. Cereus crest brought from Japan costs upto Rs 6,000. Euphorbia abdelkuri damask, Mammillaria elongata and Mammillaria gracilis varieties also are expensive. Balakrishnan started selling cactus plants via online during the lockdown period. He earns a decent profit from this.
Biodiversity in desert
Cactus plants normally grow in deserts and dry lands. There are over 1,750 species of cactus plants that belong to 127 genus in the world. Cactus can survive without water.
As they have no leaves, they lose very little moisture. Cactus have many thorns on them. Only a few varieties bloom and some of them also bear fruits.
The seeds of cactus are as tiny as mustard seeds. Germinated seeds are grafted on local varieties to ensure rapid growth.
Saplings can be produced using sprouts emerging on plants. But seeds are mostly used for propagation. Flower pots are filled with a mixture of sand, coconut husk and cow dung powder before sowing seeds.
Cactus plants require only a very little amount of water. They should be watered only once a week. 10 grams of bone manure can be applied as fertilizer once in two months. Normally, cactus plants are not affected with diseases.
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