Initially we used to plant climbers in our Miyawaki forests. But not anymore. Our present stand is that we will have climbers if they sprout a couple of years after the plants have grown really well. The reason for avoiding them is that in the conditions prevailing in Kerala, with so much water and manure, they flourish, and twine themselves tight around the plants. This happened in all the forests we set up. In Kanakakkunu too. Even the Asian pigeonwings or shankhupushpam, which we considered harmless, colonized the area. Some people call climbers ‘forest killers’. This opinion is shared among scientists too. That may be true. But climbers are hard to avoid in Kerala forests because all the forests here have this species. So what is to be done?
It is impossible to have climbers when we create Miyawaki forests in one or one-and-a-half cents or smaller patches of land. The solution lies in putting up a wire fence, instead of a wall, around our property. We usually spend a lot of money on stones and cement to put up walls because we feel it gives us security. That is a false notion because even tall walls can easily be jumped over or breached. But something is needed to prevent trespassers or straying animals, and we suggest putting up fences. The added advantage is that it helps maintain biodiversity. If we can train a lot of climbers on the fence, butterflies will appear, deposit eggs, pupae will form, and new birth will happen. Other insects and creatures too will come. We can grow climbers like yardlong bean, ivy gourd, purple moonflower, passion fruit, grapes and medicinal plants. Flowering creepers and climbers, like jasmine, can also be trained on the fence. Once the fence gets completely covered, it forms a good bio-fencing. This gives protection and is very useful too.
That is because a fence gives us more surface area, vertically. However, if we opt for an arched trellis, plants will not grow below it. But bio-fencing helps in optimization of space. Please try it out. We have experimented with it at several places and found it useful and economical. At the very least, fences are a better substitute for walls. Walls don’t appeal to my aesthetic sense but your tastes may differ. But I feel if we replaced compound walls with bio-fences, we may perhaps be able to recapture the old natural beauty of Kerala.