Why is Metro Kheti here?

MetroKheti

Every time the southern neighbors impose a blockade in Nepal, there is a panic looming across the streets of metropolitan cities. A few days back when India decided to stop the export of onions I overheard a shopkeeper telling a customer, “I told you to take 3 kilograms yesterday but you did not listen to me. Today the price has tripled.” The customer sighed a “Really?” on response. This isn’t a new thing to people who completely depend upon local vendors and supermarkets for their daily vegetable requirement. The history has loudly spoken about how every time there is a blockade over Nepal, the price of fresh vegetables, pulses, and vegetable oils has increased in several folds. The food commodities in addition to other products have been out of grasp of common people and have severely tested people’s ability to cope; be it during the 1989 blockade, 2015 blockade or the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The frequent landslides in the major highways of Nepal during the monsoon haven’t spared people in the metropolitan areas too. In fact, the metro cities are the foremost affected areas whenever there is a crisis. A sane person is worried about his morning and evening meal rather than the petrol on his bike every time there’s an emergency, making food as our basic and the most important need.

When the lockdown kept extending and fears of Covid-19 played hide and seek on the streets of Kathmandu, people wore three masks over their face and kept choosing ripe and red tomatoes from crowded local shops taking all the time in the world. They kept running to local vendors for a handful of coriander to touch up their curry with a little ‘dhaniya garnish’. Despite the huge potentiality of Metro farms in cities like Kathmandu with almost 1.5 Ropani of empty rooftops, it is agriculturally sad to see people meeting their smallest need of vegetables through the local vendors and supermarkets. 

At these unprecedented times while there is a pandemic loose, every nation must opt for a sustainable food supply system to be resilient. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency are the first steps to sustainability. While everyone can celebrate this independence of being a Metro farmer by growing their own food then why not?

Soil Grubs

खुम्रे किराको नोक्सानी र रोकथामका उपायहरु 

परिचय 

स्काराबेइडी (Scarabidae) परिवार अन्तर्गत पर्ने खुम्रे माटोमा बस्ने एक विनाशकारी लार्भे किरा हो।बिषेशगरी अन्न तथा तरकारीबालीको जरा नस्ट पारी उत्पादनमा १०५ सम्म क्षति पुराउन सक्ने एक किसिमको किरा हो । हेर्दा बोसो जस्तै देखिने शरीरमा सेतो रंग रटाउकोमा खैरो वा रातो रंग, ३ जोर खुट्टा भएको र छुदा खुम्चिने खालको हुन्छ । यसको व्यस्कलाई खपटे भनिन्छ जुन रातको समयमा सक्रिय हुन्छ र सुख्खा माटो अथवा काचो गोबर अथवा मलमा अण्डा पार्न रुचाउछ ।

प्रभावित बाली

प्याज र लसुन बाहेक सम्पूर्ण तरकारी बाली र मकै 

रोकथामका उपायहरु 

 खेतबारीमा रहेका झारपात तथा अवशेषहरु नस्ट गरी सफा राख्ने ।

 गर्मि समयमा गहिरो खनजोत गर्ने ताकी हप्तादिनसम्म खाली राख्दा प्राकृतिकशत्रु चराहरुले माथि सतहमा आएका लार्भाहरु सेवन गरी लार्भाको संख्या घटाइदिन्छ ।

 पाकेको गोवर मल वा कम्पोस्ट मात्र प्रयोग गर्ने ।

 खुम्रे कीरालाई मन नपर्ने बाली जस्तै प्याज, लसुन, टमाटर र धनिया आदि मुख्य बाली संगै लगाउने ।

नियन्त्रणका बिधिहरु 

पूर्णरुपमा खुम्रे किराको नियन्त्रण गर्नका निमित्त व्यस्कखपटेलाई असार देखि श्रावण भित्र तथा खुम्रेलाई श्रावण देखि भाद्र भित्रमा नियन्त्रण गरीसक्नु पर्दछ। घरेलु बिधिबाट नियन्त्रण गर्ने केहि उपायहरु निम्न प्रकारहरु छन् स्

 जमिन खनजोत गर्दा देखिएका खुम्रेलाई तत्कालै नस्ट गर्नुपर्दछ ।

 माटोमा गहुत, असुरो र चिउरी मिसाउनु पर्दछ ।

 केतुको पात पिसेर त्यसको १ भाग ३ भाग पानीमा मिसाई जमिन भिज्ने गरी प्रयोग गर्नुपर्दछ र केतुले छालामा केहि मात्रामा असर गर्ने हुदा साबधानी अपनाउनु पर्दछ ।

 राम्रोसग पाकेको गोबर मलको प्रयोग गर्नुपर्दछ ।

 जेष्ठ देखि श्रावण महिना सम्म बिशेष गरी प्रजनन समय भएको हुदा खेतबारीमा रहेका घास, पराल र सोत्तरमुनिको जमिनमा अण्डा पार्ने हुदा यो समयमा खेतबारी सफा राख्नु पर्दछ ।

 पुनरनभा जातको घासमा खुम्रेले आश्रय लिने हुदा यस घासलाई नस्ट गर्नु पर्दछ ।

 बत्तिको पासोको प्रयोग गर्नेस् बत्तिको पासो बनाउनको लागि बारीको सकभर बीच भागमा मचान बनाई एउटा भाडामा पानी राख्ने र त्यसको अलिकति माथि भागमा ५(७ वटा वल्ब राख्ने र उक्त बत्ति रातभर बालेर छोडिदिने र यसो गर्दा जति पनि बयेस्क खपटे प्रकाशमा आकर्षित भएर पानीमा डुबेर मर्छन् । पानीमा तोरीको तेल मिसाउदा बडी उपयुक्त हुन्छ ।विद्युतको पहुच नहुने ठाउमा लाल्टिनको उपयोग गर्न सकिन्छ।

Crop rotation

Crop rotation refers to the cultivation of different crops successively, in line with changing seasons. The order and area of crops to be grown is accordingly patterned for optimizing soil nutrients and water, controlling pests and suppressing weeds. Crop rotation in rooftop farming comprises of simple rotation of two or three crops. An easy way by which crop rotation can be integrated in rooftop garden is dividing the garden into different areas and shifting a crop species from one area to another. It can also be exercised by rotating crops of different families or groups in a particular area. Crop families or groups that can be rotated are as following:

Alliums: Onion, Garlic, etc.,

Brassicas: Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Radish, Carrot, etc.,

Cucurbits: Bitter gourd, Pumpkins, Chayote Squash, Cucumbers, Sponge gourd, etc.,

Nightshades: Brinjal, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes, etc.,

Leguminous vegetables: Beans, peas, chickpea, etc.,

Leafy vegetables: Mustard, Basmati mustard, Green cress, spinach, coriander and lettuce, etc.

Principles of crop rotation

An effective crop rotation system requires right selection of crops that adjusts well with the space, sunlight and soil in rooftop garden. General principles that guide crop rotation are listed hereafter:

  • Leguminous crops should be followed by non-leguminous crops.
  • The crops with tap roots (dicots) should be grown after those which have fibrous root system (monocots). 
  • Slow-growing crops which are more vulnerable to weeds should be grown immediately after weed-suppressing crops in a rotation system.
  • Closely related species should not be grown successively as they act as alternate hosts for insects, pests and diseases.
  • Deep rooted crops should be succeeded by shallow rooted crops. 
  • Crops susceptible to soil borne pathogens and parasitic weeds should be followed by tolerant crops.
  • Diversely classified families and groups should be incorporated in the rotation.

Advantages of crop rotation

The advantages of integrating crop rotation system in rooftop farming are illustrated below:

  • Crop rotation furnishes soil with fertility. The root nodules of leguminous crops fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil and supply nitrogen for subsequent non-leguminous crops. Similarly, deep-rooted plants can uptake phosphorus and potassium from depth of the soil profile making the nutrients accessible to shallow rooted crops following.
  • Pests are specific to certain host species or families by nature. Growing non-host species in succession can control reproduction, growth and development of those insects having small range of crops to feed on which are immobile, whose larvae or eggs overwinter in the soil or crop residue.
  • Including cover crops in the rotation limits necessities of light, space and nutrient for weeds. Consequently, the weed population is suppressed.
  • Pathogens having small host range which need crop residue for survival during off-season can be controlled by cultivating non-host plants. This helps to cease the reproduction process of pathogen hence checking the spread of disease.
  • Crop rotation enhances soil organic matter adding up more crop residues and green manure to the soil. 
  • It promotes crop diversity as well as microbial activity causing minimal disturbance to the soil.
  • It favors optimum utilization of space which is prominent in rooftop farming.

Metro Kheti myth: I have no time.

Time

Every parent in this world is concerned about their children’s association with electronics. There are bizarre findings on the internet that says horn like bumps are growing on the bases of the skulls of younger people due to excessive phone use. Children in the states and European nations are said to have nature deficit syndrome where the major diagnosing factors are the myopic eyes, obese, Vitamin D deficiency with higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses and other maladies. This is where the third and the most solvable myth comes into play; the ‘I have no time to farm’ myth. Metro farms can be a recreational activity for the entire family where every member can run to the roofs in the evening, water plants, plant seeds, harvest fruits, pluck weeds turn by turn in less than an hour. To make it more interesting, the seeding, germination, flowering and fruiting can be duly noted in a separate Metro farm calendar where the leadership can be given to your children. Children who spend more time in the nature are found to be more creative, engaging and socially behaved. Metro farms can be a physical, mental and emotional exercise to the entire family. An hour off from our robotic lives is a must and spending it to grow our own vegetables will be the best way to make the most out of it. There are also some misconceptions where rooftop gardening is considered as a stay-at-home moms job or a time-pass activity for someone who has a plenty of time. Well, it can be but rooftop gardens can be maintained even with a regular job side by side. The plants won’t demand a lot of your time and attention; an hour a day will do. Plus they are cute, you would definitely make time for them.

Metro Kheti myth: Weight in rooftop

Weight on rooftop

Post 2072 earthquake in Nepal, a lot of news loomed across the city areas that houses which had a rooftop garden in them had collapsed in a larger number as compared to houses which had nothing on the roof. This is where the second myth comes into play ‘The concern about the weight of a rooftop garden in the house’. Some people have the misconception that putting weight on your roofs lead to the collapsing of houses. However, this being regarded as an honest concern can be conquered by consulting engineers and structural professionals. The distribution of weight over the rooftop sure might increase a little weight on the house but there are plenty of tips that can be followed to even and minimize it. First can be choosing light weight potting materials over soil like coco peat, perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, maize stubbles and well decomposed sawdust. The second approach can be distributing the weight over the pillars and beams of the house. It is very relevant arguments that you wouldn’t want anything happen to your beautiful house but in this era of urbanization when one has to run to jungles in search of nature, how about you create nature around yourself in your own rooftop or any open space available without being worried about the weight it puts on your house?

Metro Kheti myth: Lack of knowledge

Growing Plants

Due to a very little information, rooftop gardening in Nepal has not gained enough momentum yet. (TKP 2020) From the informal conversations with the people residing in the three major cities namely Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktpaur certain myths about rooftop farming has been mined out. The first and foremost is that people are scared about the notion of obtaining complete independence in vegetables because they lack the technical know-how. This is the major reason behind which they choose beautiful flowers and aesthetically pleasing plants over vegetable growing. Framing is an art and it gets good with practice. The stereotypical image of a man riding behind his bulls on a sunny winter day on the fields isn’t only the one who is a farmer. There’s a Chinese proverb that says we all are born as farmers. Every single individual living inside the four corners of a concrete house with an empty rooftop can be a farmer and there are plenty of technical minds ready to guide them through the process of rooftop farming.