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Cardamom

 Latin Name : Elettaria cardamomum Maton
 Family : Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family)
 Common names : Small Cardamom, Lesser Cardamom, True Cardamom, Malabar Cardamom, Green Cardamom
 
Cardamom

Native to India, Cardamom is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family. Its dried fruit referred to as the queen of spices, is one of the most exotic and highly prized spices in the world. It is found commonly in southern India mainly in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka, on the shady slopes of the western Ghats. Today, Cardamom is also cultivated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand and Central America. Cardamom acts as a mouth-freshener, has well established culinary values, and is used in a wide range of sweets and confectionery. It is an important ingredient of garam masala, a combination spice for many vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian dishes. Tea and coffee made with cardamom are pleasantly aromatic and refreshing. The oil contained in the seeds and pods are used in perfumes and as a stimulant.

This bushy herb will grow to a height of 6 to10 feet with erect shoots from a thick, underground rootstock. The shoots bear two rows of dark green leaves each about 2 inches long. The leaves are long, alternate and lance-shaped. The small, yellowish flowers are borne on panicles and they emerge directly from the underground stem on long floral stalks. The fruit are ovoid or oblong, greenish-brown  capsules containing about 15-20 seeds attached to axial placenta. The seeds  have a warm, slightly pungent and highly aromatic flavour.

Propagation, Planting and Harvesting Cardamom

Cardamom is propagated vegetatively by division of the rhizomes or by seeds. For vegetative propagation, rhizomes from large clumps of growing plants are taken out, separated into small clumps and planted in prepared pits. Seeds may be collected from well ripened fruits from a healthy mature plant at least five years old. They may be washed and sown immediately or they can be mixed with ash and dried for a week before sowing. They can be sown in deep rich soil prepared with well rotted organic matter, on raised beds. The plant prefers loamy soils rich in organic matter, which are usually acidic in nature with a pH range of 5.0 to 6.5. It thrives best under moderate shade. The seeds germinate 5-7 weeks after sowing and are ready to be transplanted when they reach a height of 25-30 cm and develop a couple of leaves. Plant them 6-18 inches apart in small pits not too deep. Seedlings should be supported by stakes and mulched. Water to keep the beds moist, too much watering is not good. Spray occasionally with Bordeaux mixture to prevent fungal attack.

Regular weeding, removal of old and dying leafy shoots, mulching, regulating the shade, manuring, application of fertilizer and irrigation are essential for their proper growth. Cardomoms grow abundantly in altitudes ranging from 900 to 1370 m above sea level, with a warm humid atmosphere and evenly distributed rainfall. Planting is usually done in June- July. The plants prefers shade.

Cardamoms start bearing capsules three years after planting, which may be the fourth or fifth year after sowing. Flowering commences in April-May and continues till July-August. Capsules just short of full ripeness are harvested in October-November in most of the areas, usually at intervals of 30-40 days. Harvested fruits are dried by exposing them to sun light or by heating or by flue curing. Capsules which lack uniform green colour are bleached by using bleaching powder, sulphur dioxide or hydrogen peroxide. After the first crop, higher and sustained yields are obtained in subsequent years up to the tenth or fifteenth year, depending on the type cultivated, after which the plants become exhausted.

Problems and Care

Cardamom plants are affected by a number of diseases caused by virus, fungi and bacteria. Katte (viral) Disease is one of the major diseases of cardamom. Diseased plants cannot be cured but the losses can be minimized by using healthy seedlings, repeating tracing of affected plants and rouging at weekly intervals for at least 4 consecutive months, avoiding rhizome planting using materials taken from disease affected gardens. Chenthal is another disease seen in almost all areas of cardamom cultivation. The intensity of the disease can be reduced by providing adequate shade in the plantations. Various types of leaf spots are found to affect the leaves. Application of Fungicides effectively control the disease.


Questions of
 Questions & Answers
 1.  Posted on : 26.4.2012  By  :  Geetha , Coimbatore View Answer (0) Post Answer
 

Sir, I would like to grow cardamom in my home garden. Is it possible to grow in this place? Where can i get the seeds or sapling?

 
 2.  Posted on : 4.9.2010  By  :  Radhika , Pune, Pune View Answer (1) Post Answer
 

What are Burdock seeds called in India and where can i get them here in India?

 
A1: 

In marathi it is called ghagra. Burdock is a plant that is related to the daisy family. It is also closely related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Burdock is an herb but it is one that has been much neglected when it comes to getting attention. Back in ancient times the Greeks used the roots, the seeds, and the greens and used them for healing purposes. Throughout the Middle Ages Burdock was used for both food and medicine. Today, Burdock is still used for such things as easing liver problems and digestive disorders. It was also found to be very effective for cleansing the skin for problems such as acne and also to assist in digestive problems. To this day throughout Europe the stalk and the greens are still eaten because they hold such valuable nutrition and vitamin values. As more and more research is being done on Burdock many new and interesting discoveries are cropping up. A relationship is being examined between Burdock and its anti fungal and anti bacterial properties, and even more important it is showing signs of possibly being able to fight against tumors and could be a cancer fighting agent as well. Research has shown that since many of the cancer causing compounds are in almost all foods which are then eaten and stored in the human fat tissues that Burdock might very well be of help in fighting cancer because of the role that it can play in depleting these mutagens. Burdock is also very helpful in strengthening the immune system when it has become weakened by environmental factors. When mixed with other herbs such as Dandelion and Ginger it can be a very powerful blood purifier. The most unique fact about Burdock is that it has a very high amount of inulin which is a natural occurring chemical within the body that mimics actions of insulin. Because of this, Burdock has been successful in helping combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions. If you look for Burdock in the market you may find it called gobo instead as that is what some refer to it as. It is often combined with other vegetables or added to Tofu. Some boil Burdock while others sautי or deep fry it. Many have said it might not be such a good idea to look at Burdock before you eat it because you might change your mind about taking a bite. It looks thick, dark, and woody but indeed the opposite is true when it comes to the taste. Burdock is well recognized as a health food because it has low calorie content and a high fiber intake. It is also loaded with potassium, iron, and calcium. People claim that Burdock tastes like nothing else. In other words it has a taste all of its own. The best description that people can agree on when it comes to the flavor of Burdock is that it is sweet yet earthy, with a tender and crisp texture. It is often added to stews, soups, and stir fries. In the form of food, Burdock is highly nutritional and full of vitamins but in retrospect Burdock is also an effective herb for bringing the body back into balance.

  Posted By :Yashashri Joshi , Thane | On 14.3.2012
 3.  Posted on : 28.3.2010  By  :  Linda , Michigan View Answer (1) Post Answer
 

Can a Clove tree be bonsai or grow as house plants like bay leaf or allspice?

 
A1: 

Yes, Clove is a nice tree to plant in a house, Also you can maintain as a bonsai.

  Posted By :Rynco Orchids , trivandrum | On 17.4.2010
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