Breaking myths around farming, towards sustainability
Wall Pepper: A new method in Pepper cultivation.
Wall pepper is a method of cultivating pepper as a mono-crop in a compact area.
Every crop in the plantation has its own characteristics in terms of its water needs, nutrient levels, shade patterns and requires different cultivation techniques.
Though a mixed crop system is a good concept, maintenance becomes a challenge. The cohabitation of the crops gets disturbed as the least tolerant crops get destroyed and the stronger one becomes sustainable and becomes the mono-crop in the long run.
Usually, pepper vines are planted to the shade trees which act as supporting standards and can grow up to 40 feet tall. As the vines grow taller, harvesting becomes difficult and also the quality of the peppercorn will be compromised as the farmers tend to harvest in one lot.
To overcome these challenges, we explored a method of growing pepper at a lesser height. The upward-growing apical tip also called "terminal shoot" is chosen for this method. Typically, the vines grow during the monsoon season and the tender tips harden during spring. We cut the top which has 5 to 8 nodes and then turn them into further cuttings with 1 to 2 nodes each and plant them in a growing bag. It is then raised as done in the regular pepper nursery pots in which the best-rooted plants are selected and transferred to the ground. Gliricidia sticks or poles can be used as supporting standards. This method is already being followed successfully in a few plantations in Kodagu. We call it "Crops from Scraps" as we use discarded plant parts or material for cultivation.
Pepper plants raised through the conventional method are unsuitable for wall pepper cultivation. Wall Pepper can also be called a hedgerow method of cultivation as it requires less spacing between the plants as compared to the conventional method.
The advantages of this method are as follows:
Starts yielding from the first year of planting.
Harvesting can be done as and when corns are matured.
Pruning can be done when plants grow old and get crowded. It is successfully trialed out.
Mrs. Saraswathi Aiyappa with her 5-year-old wall pepper garden at School Estate, Ammathi, Kodagu district, Karnataka.
One-year-old terminal shoot plant in the nursery.