If asked, Balachandran Nair of Naruvamoodu in Thiruvanathapuram would say papaya, elephant foot yam and ash gourd are the best combination he ever had. This is a success story of a farmer who experimented mixed farming and yielded good results. He started with Red Lady Papaya and Gajendra elephant foot yam and then cultivated ash gourd as an intercrop. The combination was an instant hit, says Balachandran.
In his farm, there are 1500 papaya plants along with elephant foot yam plants. Ash gourd seeds were sown in two-feet deep and long pits amidst papaya and elephant foot yam. He maintained a gap of 10 feet between the pits. These pits are prepared with compost, cow dung powder and limestone powder.
When the seeds sprout, three healthy saplings are identified and kept. The other saplings would be removed. During vining stage, neem cake and bone manure are applied.
He collected ash gourd seeds from Horticulture Mission. “Ash gourd plants will start to flower after 45 days. The fruits can be harvested at immature stage itself,” Balachandran said.
He earns Rs.75000 as profit from one-acre land in three months. “It can be cultivated in any season and can be kept for a long time,” Balachandran added.