Although a slow-growing fruiting crop by veggie standards, sugarcane is also hassle-free and will add foliage, privacy and considerable sensation value to your little urban farm! This page is about black sugarcane – a variety of cane that is sweeter, juicier, thicker at stem and more easily eaten than the other varieties.
Black sugarcane is an annual plant. It thrives in hot and humid climates. Since it takes nearly a year to grow to fullness, plant in early spring/January for a winter harvest by December.
This plant is very easily propagated from shoots/rooting branches. Choose branch segments of a freshly cut sugarcane that has intact, undamaged nodes or buds at its branch intersections.
Place branch segments in water for a couple of days, to tenderize the buds for growth. When nodes are tender they are ready for planting out.
Choose manure-rich soil in direct and strong sunlight. Sugarcane is not fussy about soil and will do well in acidic, neutral or alkaline soil. Similarly, it can grow well in clayey, clay loam or sandy soil – as long as the soil is rich in manure and organic nutrients. Dig long troughs in the soil about 8 inches deep. Plant your sugarcane branch segments laterally (sleeping position) with their nodes oriented upwards, into these troughs. Cover with earth, and water deeply. The first shoots will emerge from your sugarcane buds in about 2 weeks. Sugarcane will grow well on open plots or in deep, rectangular containers with enough length for its segments to be planted.
This is a very easy plant to grow and requires little nurturing besides deep, regular watering, and occasional pruning of dead leaves. It does not get preyed on by insects or other pests. Keep adding compost and manure, as it will absorb all the nutrients you add to the mix. Given nutrient-rich soil, plenty of water and strong sunshine, your sugarcane will grow steadily, and in a couple of months you will see black cane emerge from ground level. After about 8 months of growth, the mother plant will give out feeder plants or “pups”.
Harvest mature mother plants, or sugar canes after 10-12 months of growth, or when they grow to about 5 feet in height, and develop a sturdy roundness to their girth. Using a sharp sickle, cut the mature canes close to ground level where sweetness is most intense, taking care not to harm the cane “pups” around them. Keep watering and adding nutrients to the mix, as your cane “pups” will grow into your next season for harvest. Keep adding quality nutrients, growing cane, and enjoying it year after year.
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