Bathua Cultivation, Farming Practices – A Full Guide

Introduction to Bathua cultivation: Bathua is also called lamb’s quarters or cheel bhaji is an ancient plant and its scientific name is the Chenopodium album. The plant leaves are boiled and eaten as other leafy vegetables in India. Some of the Bathua recipes that are prepared in India are Raita, paratha of bathua leaves, and yogurt bathua. Once grown, the plant leaves can be harvested and used like spinach. Bathua rich in Fiber and Vitamin A. Bathua is a purifying plant and helps to restore healthy nutrients to poor quality soil. This unique plant tends to spread very quickly no matter the soil condition. One lamb’s quarter or Bathua plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds. It is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium. Bathua plant leaves are cultivated in limited areas across the world. India happens to be one of the largest cultivators of the Bathua plant. These dark, leafy greens are related to amaranth, spinach, and beetroot.

A step by step guide to Bathua cultivation

In some parts, Bathua is also known as lamb’s quarters, Melde, goosefoot, White goosefoot, Manure weed, Wild spinach, pigweed, fat-hen, Vastukah (Sanskrit), Bathuwa (Hindi, Oriya), Paruppukkirai (Tamil), Pappukura (Telegu), Chandanbethu (Bengali), Kaduoma (Kannada), Vastuccira (Malayalam), and Chakvit (Konkani).

A guide to Growing Bathua.
A guide to Growing Bathua.

Bathua plant holds immense significance in India’s culinary history. Considered an ancient seasonal green, Bathua is prepared just like the other saag preparations and consumed for its rich taste and health properties. The largest cultivation of Bathua saag happens in some regions of Rajasthan and Himachal, from where the greens are transported across the country. Bathua plant leaves are found exclusively during the winter months at elevations up to 4,700 meters.

Information about Bathua plant

Bathua is a very important broad leaves weed which is interfering wheat crop. Bathua is an annual weed with erect, smooth, ridged and branched stem. The inflorescence is a dense cluster of green flowers and plant produces about 30 to 40 thousand seeds. And its leaves are used as a green vegetable. The plant stem has pink or purple color strips and has a strong taproot system. The plant leaves are alternate and varied in appearance. It produces upright at first, reaching heights of about 30 to 80 cm, but typically becomes recumbent after flowering and seeds unless supported by other plants.

Plant seeds and these are very nutritious, high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.  Although rare, this Bathua plant can reach a height of up to 2 meters. The average height is 1 meter.

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Stems – Rarely slender, angled, striped green, red or purple.

Leaves – Simple,  rhomboid,  deltoid to lanceolate,  upper entire, lower toothed or irregularly lobed, extremely variable in cultivated forms, 10 to 15 cm long, petioles often as long as thick blade, 1 to 1.3 cm in length. The opposite leaves can be varied in appearance.  The leaves are toothed and roughly diamond-shaped, 3 to 7 cm long and 3 to 6 cm broad. It has been found in a dark green color with a smooth under surface. Leaves are light green on the top and are diamond-shaped and can grow up to 10 cm long.

Flowers – Flowers are radial, symmetrical and grow in small cymes on a dense branched inflorescence, 10 to 40 cm long, contain shining black seeds. Its pollen can contribute to hay fever-like allergies.

Bathua cultivation practices

Select a good location for Bathua cultivation

Select a good location for growing lamb’s quarters in the home garden. Although these plants are not picky to grow and generally grow almost anywhere. Bathua plants can grow in full sun or in partial shade. The plants can tolerate drought well. So selecting the site, consider the availability of sun and ensure a good drainage system.

Preparing the soil

The lamb’s quarters or Bathua plants can be grown in a wide range of soil types. But the Bathua plants will grow better in loose soil which is rich in organic materials. Thus, for preparing the soil, till the soil and add organic materials into it such as aged manure or homemade compost.

Purchase Seeds

After selecting a site and preparing the soil, purchase seeds from any of the nearest market or garden centers. Lamb’s quarter’s plants are common in most areas and the seeds must be easily available in your area. You can also consider ordering the Bathua seeds online. Always try to purchase good quality seeds for growing lamb’s quarters in the home garden.

Bathua cultivation and uses

The plant is cultivated mostly for vegetable need but the seeds are consumed as grains for human and animal feed in many African and Asian nations. In many of the western countries as in Europe and America, it is considered being weeds as it competes with the corn, soybean, and sugar beet crops resulting in crop-losses still C album is ecologically beneficial. And it attracts Leaf miners and other beetles. In that method, it protects the neighboring crops. A green vegetable dye is occasionally extracted from the young shoots to color wool or silk. The crushed fresh roots are used as a soap substitute in several rural areas. White spikes growing as a branched inflorescence, 5 to 15 inches long, blooming at the tip or end of the branches. Plant flowering occurs from July to October. The plant fruits are tiny round pods that open around the tips displaying shiny small black seeds sticking inside in large numbers. The plant amply occurs during the winter season and used for culinary reasons. The chopped fresh leaves are used for making the curries, soups, stuffed Indian bread.

The seeds are included in the cooking and baking of bread or making beverages in the Northern Indian provinces like Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. The genus of Chenopodium has several taxonomies and all are edible but some can provoke slight health problems.

An easily grown Bathua plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade. The plant prefers moderately fertile soil and tolerates a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.3. In moderate amounts, this Bathua plant is a good companion for potatoes, corn, and cucurbits. The Bathua plant responds directly to the magnesium content of the soil so it can be used to indicate the presence of that element.

Using as animal feed

Bathua is also used as feed (both the leaves and the seeds) for chickens and other poultry.

Propagation of Bathua

Seed – Most of the seed generally germinates within a few days of sowing. It is usually unnecessary to sow the seed as the plant is a common garden weed and usually self-sows freely in most soils.

The potential impact on conventional crops

It is one of the more robust and competitive weeds, also capable of producing crop losses of up to 13% in corn, 25% in soybeans, and 48% in sugar beets at an average plant distribution. It can be controlled by dark tillage, rotary hoeing, or flaming when the plants are small. Crop rotation of small grains will suppress an infestation and it is easily controlled with a number of pre-emergence herbicides. Its pollen can contribute to hay fever-like allergies.

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Bathua plant caring

You don’t have to think much about caring about the Bathua plants. The Bathua plants generally require less care and they can thrive in almost all conditions. They can handle drought well, grow in full sun or partial shade and can do well in poor and rich soil. Although taking additional care will ensure good growth of the Bathua plants.

Lamb’s quarters plants don’t need to apply additional fertilizers if you prepare the soil by adding organic materials into it. You can water the Bathua plants if the soil gets really dry. Using mulch will help to retain moisture into the soil and it will prevent most of the weeds from the garden.

Growing Bathua in container

  • Take one container which has a drainage hole and which is at least five inches in height.
  • Then cover the drainage hole with a broken piece of the clay pot.
  • Fill with a potting mix that means take one part soil, half sand, half cocopeat, half compost, one handful neem khal.
  • Keep a one-inch gap for watering and sprinkled seeds on the potting mix.
  • Give water to the plant and kept in full sunlight.
  • Keep soil always moist.
  • For pests, the attack uses neem oil. For example, 5ml neem oil, 5ml liquid soap. mix in one-liter water.
  • No need for extra fertilizer and without adding fertilizer it’s growing fast.
  • Cut from the top for a bushier plant.

Health benefits of Bathua leaves

Bathua leaves are filled with several nutritional qualities that can do wonders for your overall health. Bathua is loaded with necessary minerals and antioxidants. Bathua leaves are a powerhouse of Vitamin A, C and B complex vitamins. The plant leaves are a good source of amino acids too. Amino acids play an important role in cell function and cell repair. And a large proportion of our cells, muscles, and tissues are made up of amino acids. Minerals such as iron, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium are also present in abundance in Bathua.

Pest control in Bathua plants

Bathua is vulnerable to leaf miners, making it a helpful trap crop as a companion plant. Bathua plant growing near other plants, it attracts leaf miners which might otherwise have attacked the crop to be protected. And it is a host plant for the beet leafhopper, an insect which transmits the curly top virus to beet crops.

Harvesting Bathua

Both greens and seeds of the Bathua plants are edible. The greens are much better on younger plants while harvesting greens just pull the leaves off at the stem (at the base of the plant). Hold the stem with one hand; use the fingers of the other hand to gently pluck the leaves free. But for harvesting the Bathua seeds, simply bend the seed heads over your bucket or bag and give them a good shake. Most of the mature seeds fall after shaking. That’s all folks about Bathua farming and cultivation practices.

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