Column Method or vertical farming method can be applied if you are not having enough support trees to grow black pepper. Using these methods you can actually grow black pepper without a tree. Here we use a PVC/Concrete wrapped with wire mesh instead of a trees.
Vertical farming uses carefully controlled growth conditions to give high yields than normal farming. It mainly aims to optimise plant growth and soilless farming techniques (hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics). The main advantage of vertical farming is that it doesn’t need acres of land instead we can choose structures like buildings, tunnels, shipping containers, gardens or a particular area that we wish to cultivate. Black pepper farming in this way is also known as intensifying black pepper using column method. It mainly suits for large scale production of quality black pepper. This method ensured the production of top shoots, lateral shoots and normal cuttings within a short period.
Establishment of column method involves the following steps.
- Selection of site
The main advantage of column method is that we can choose the site according to our convenience. Gardens, buildings, tunnels, or any space which we wish to cultivate can be taken as the site. For traditional black pepper farming method it is not possible. For column method black pepper farming at first we need to dig a pit of about 1 meter depth in the selected site (if the site is land or garden if its a building we can use appropriate support).
- Preparation of vertical column mesh
Insert a PVC pipe of 2.5 m length into the pit. This method involves growing the cuttings on a vertical wire mesh column of 2m height and 30 cm diameter. The column is filled with partially decomposed coir pith and vermicompost in the ratio 3:1 fortified with Trichoderma harzianum (bio control agent). Around 8-10 black pepper plants can e wrapped around each vertical column. It is better to place these columns in poly houses if the site taken is of heavy rainfall.
- Planting and medium preparation
These vertical columns with black pepper vines are maintained in well maintained hi-tech poly house in a controlled temperature and humidity. Cuttings are allowed to tail on the column ensuring that each node comes in contact with the medium. Compost can be filled accordingly as soon as the vine reaches the top of the column. When it reaches the top the vines can taken for rapid multiplication (It takes around 5-6 months to reach the top of the column). Wines should be fixed in to the column by tying or using small coconut stems as the vines grows up. In a year three harvesting cycles can be made and around 200 columns can be made in a poly house. It starts fruiting from fifth or sixth month on words(bush pepper other varieties take 1 to 3 years for fruiting) we can easily harvest the pepper corns easily hand picking so there is no need for man support for plucking black pepper corns. We can choose any varity of black pepper cuttings for farming (Pepper Thekkan, Pepper Panniyur, Pepper Kuthiravalan, Pepper Karimunda, Bush Pepper Panniyur etc). Apart from the normal way column method gives five times more growth and yield