Deciding what to grow is an extremely difficult decision for us at the beginning of every season, because there are just so many choices available. However, if you are looking to grow things that you can actually use or sell commercially, then some hard choices need to be made. Fortunately there are several criteria that can help filter the choices for you.
The most commonly consumed vegetables in most Indian households are potatoes, onions and tomatoes. Of these onions are a popular winter crop in Goa, while potatoes and tomatoes are not really grown by Goan farmers in large quantities. Onions take a while to grow and potatoes are a lot less exciting to grow than tomatoes, so the choice seems pretty simple — tomatoes. But decisions when you are taking a commercial approach is more difficult, and requires the application of selective filters.
a) If you are trying to play very safe the choices become simpler. You can either just grow what the local farmers have been growing for ages – in Taleigao that means mooli (radish), tambadi bhaji (red amaranth), kongi (sweet potato), baingan (brinjal or aubergine), mirchi (chilli), makai (corn), knol kohl (kohlrabi) and kanda (onion).
b) You can also play safe by growing low maintenance crops, some of which may be like weeds for your region because they need no tending to. For example alsane (or cowpea) or groundnuts need virtually no tending in Goa’s winter season since it uses residual moisture from the morning mist. Some millets like raagi or naachni can also be grown similarly.
c) If you want to be a little more adventurous or want to grow something different for your palate you can consider a wider set of Indian crops that are right for the season. For instance cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, potato, coriander, radish, turnip, mustard are commonly grown in cooler parts of India.
d) But if you want to really break the mould and are close to an urban centre, you can try offbeat crops that set you apart from local growers and appeal to a younger and urban audience that is quickly getting interested in more international foods (probably thanks to Master Chef on TV). That’s how we decided that lettuce would be a good thing to try growing in Goa ourselves.