Growing Millets (ancient grain)

Our family has farming background, my grand father was a farmer, my dad relocated to Bangalore in 1966 for a job at Mico (Bosch) with his roots still going back to the village, that is being sprouted back by me & my wife (Lakshmi Bhaskara) by adopting natural farming in our farm in the village, with a hope to influence other farmers around to switch into doing natural / chemical free farming.

Just sown / transplanted finger millet

Ragi Mudde (Finger Millet Ball) is the main staple food for us at home & have been purchasing from farmers around our village area for past several years, now… we are growing finger millet in a small patch of land, this story is to talk through the planning & experience of growing the same. In first half of the text story, you will read the process of growing millet in off-season area about growing finger millet & in embedded video at end of the story is the process followed in monsoon sowing time.

Seedling bed

Seed / sapling bed for finger millet

We prepared a small 10ft x 10ft area as seedling bed area for the seeds to sprout, these need to be watered twice a day & preferable to be made in a slightly shaded area. Saplings need to be in bed for three to four weeks, before they are transplanted to farm area. It’s ok, if there are patches of dark & light green saplings, they will all do fine once you do transplant. Note, if you grow millets during monsoon season the seedling bed & transplant can be skipped, directly sown on the farm land (you will see that process in the later part of this story in Sowing Millets video).

Transplanting

Transplanting finger millet along with Lakshmi & her aunt

This is the only part of our farm that gets watered without drip, hence prepared small water paths & do raised bed for putting the finger millet saplings. You need to pull out the saplings from the bed (after watering it nicely) by making sure the roots are completely pulled out. In between the finger millet saplings in each row sow couple of corn seeds for every few ragi saplings.

Finger millet saplings, after the transplantation. It was a memorable day… ended with light showers!

Once the transplant is done, continue to water the finger millet, if it’s sown in off-season (non-monsoon) time, which is NOT ideal… but we want to practise the process once, so we can be ready for doing millet at a larger scale in monsoon.

Fully grown finger millet, ready for harvest in a few weeks.

Finger Millet is a 90 days — 110 days crop, the photo beside is the finger millet crop fully grown & ready for harvest in about 2 weeks. Subsequent to harvest we went through the manual process of de-husking the grain from the plant at the farm.

Proud to have harvested around 45kgs of Finger Millet, first time in my life! from a small patch of 5 Guntas of land (each gunta is 33ft X 33ft).

Monsoon time — Foxtail & Kodo Millet sowing

We almost did the finger millet harvest before the monsoon started… and excited about the prospect of doing this in a larger scale! … attempted for growing millet in 3.5 acres, a mix of foxtail (ನವಣೆ) & kodo (ಆರ್ಕ) millet.

Thanks for reading through my story… this story & blog is possible only because of active support by family & a big thanks to my better half Lakshmi.