The banana is one of the most widely consumed fruits globally. Every part of this plant is either edible or usable, whether it be fruit, flower, leaves, or the flower stalk that masquerades as a stem. The inner part of the so-called banana stem has a crisp texture and mild taste. These stems are loaded with fibre which can prevent various health issues in the long run and have a huge water-retention capacity.
The latter property makes it a sustainable alternative to plastic or ceramic planters for urban farming. Indonesians use it as a planter for growing short-root plants. This is done by carving medium sized pits in the stem, followed by filling them preferably with loamy soil (equal parts clay, silt, and sand) and placing the saplings or the seeds at a distance of 30-40 cm. This is done to ensure aeration and to avoid clustering in the pit. Due to the stem’s huge water-retention capacity, this method makes the whole task of urban farming a lot easier and less time-consuming.
Moreover, they also make for beautiful vertical gardens in limited-space balconies. One can plant fresh herbs such as coriander, mint, curry leaves, and dill in separate pits on one log, and vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, and brinjals, on another, and fix these logs horizontally on one’s balcony walls. Also, once the stem starts decomposing, it can be added to the compost bin to get nutrient-rich manure for the next cycle of seed planting.
This idea, if adopted in India—the largest banana producer in the world—can help boost agriculture in arid regions or those facing critical water shortage. This method is quite economical as the stems are easily available and do not require big-budget irrigation methods. This method can pioneer a revolution in the world of urban farming, which will definitely facilitate the production of sufficient food on every rooftop.
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