The population is concentrated in urban centers, where space is scarce and increasingly contested. As backyards and land shrink, there is a tendency to revert to the healthy old habit of growing food at home.
Windows and balconies can be used for specific crops. And, for those who want to plant potatoes and other tubers, one option is sow in towers that take advantage of dry leaves and organic matter.
With the method taught by the Indian farmer CV Varghese, it is possible to harvest potatoes in abundance and without the need for large areas.
Among the organic materials used by Varghese are dried manure and natural fertilizers, such as those produced by different composting methods.
The technique is called vertical stitch tower. See below the step by step for this culture!
Step 1: Buy a metal fence about 1.5 meters high with openings of about 5 cm.
2nd step: Cut a piece 5 feet wide to make each round. Each tower will use a fence square and you can paint them if you want.
Step 3: Wrap the fence to form a circle and secure the ends with pieces of wire or strong joints.
Before you start adding planting materials, such as dry leaves, cut a PVC pipe 2 cm in diameter and 1.5 meters long. Drill holes in this tube at 8 cm intervals to release the water. Put it inside the tower then start assembling the layers to plant.
Step 4: Add 10 or 12 cm of dry hay. This layer will prevent the soil from flowing.
Step 5: Then add 50 cm of dry leaves. Use a long stick or tube to string the leaves together to accommodate this layer.
Step 6: Add a layer of damp cow manure or other compost
Step 7: Put a layer of soil, which can be mixed with a little fertilizer or organic compost, but as long as the mixture is dry.
Step 8: Place a few sprouted potato plants, evenly spaced, in a circular order.
Step 9: Add the dry potting soil to cover the potatoes.
Step 10: Repeat the process adding more layers of dry leaves, cow manure or compost, dry mix and potato sprouts, in that order.
Potato tower maintenance
In November 2020, Varghese planted potatoes and some vegetables in more than 10 rounds. “In some towers I planted potatoes at the bottom and tomatoes or peppers at the top,” he says, adding that it didn’t affect plant growth or production.
After planting the shoots, Varghese watered them regularly, but without flooding them. Within a month, leaves had started growing out of the mesh tower, and she added organic fertilizers to replenish the potting soil.
At the end of January, the vegetables were ready to be harvested. Although Varghese did not calculate how many kilograms he grew, he says that from 10 rounds he managed to grow 120 potatoes.
Varghese’s son, Akhil Varghese, 28, says there were so many vegetables they couldn’t eat them all on their own. “Once we take what we need, we share the rest with our neighbors Akhill said.