As if “everything na double, double…” has become so hackneyed, these two plantain suckers resort to dispensing with that clichéd phrase in preference for “triple, triple…” Don’t ask me if plantain suckers or any plant for that matter do have feelings. But, one thing I do know is that the Lord God Almighty can move plants and animals, yes, even the whole of nature (and men, willingly or unwittingly) to the service of His children. Most certainly, I am one of His.
Three such plantain suckers decided to bear fruit at about the same time. I agree with you, there is nothing extraordinary about plantain suckers bearing fruits at their appointed times and seasons. What is special this time around is that, instead of yielding three normal size bunches, these suckers brought eight hefty bunches of plantain. Listen, I mean eight bunches where I should normally harvest three bunches. And that, all at once. Or almost.
The first set of “3-in-1 bunch” was harvested the other day. The second 3-in-1 bunch was harvested yesterday. Then, the sweet lady of the house has just driven in from her outing.
“Darling, will you please cut the second bunch of plantains? It is ripening up and if you don’t cut it now, the birds will feast on the best part of it.”
To which I concurred in reply.
“Yes madam. Well, I was thinking of leaving the second bunch until your son come home from his school-holidays excursion trip.”
“I thought so too, but if you don’t cut it down now, most of it will ripen & get picked off by the birds. Just be careful when you are going to cut it down so it doesn’t crash to the ground under the weight of the bunches and get damaged. And do take care, tread softly because some parts of the pavement could be slippery because of the recent heavy downpour.”
“Yes. I will take care. Thank you. ”
Two of the plantain suckers started bearing fruit about 3 months ago. This is the first time I ever witness plantain suckers bearing 3 set of bunches at a time, all at once. My mama has been here with us since last March. I asked her,
“Mama have you ever seen a plantain sucker bearing three bunches at once?”
To my inquiry, mama replied,
“This is my first time of seeing a plantain sucker bearing 3 big bunches at once. Back in the village, I have seen a 2-in-1 bunch, but I have never seen a 3-in-1 bunch coming out at once.”
Mama has more than five decades of active peasant farming experience. Mama advised me on how to add mulch and all those household sweep-off and ashes to the bases of the plantain and banana suckers. She also advised us to desist from trimming the leaves. Instead, we are to simply bend a few of them over when they become inconveniencing – too tall and too long.
Altogether, I counted over 140 single (big and medium sized) plantains on the two sets of 3-in-1 bunches I harvested. No, these are not genetically modified plantains. I don’t use chemical fertilizers either. In the past, these same suckers have yielded 2-in-1 bunches over and again (though not with every harvest.) Anybody who has ever had sapling suckers of plantains or bananas in any patch of land (narrow or spacious) will attest to how these imperious plants do overbearingly grow to dominate their spots while also menacing the neighbors across the fence without provocation. So, what I always do is to relentlessly and unsparingly, trim them down before they overstep their allotted boundaries. The good woman of the house and the two teenagers always consider my trimming and pruning sessions at the plantain grove wasteful.
“Daddy, why are you cutting down the up-coming suckers? You should have let them grow like those tall big ones. Then, we will have plenty of plantains & bananas at harvest time.”
To their inexperienced solicitations, I repeatedly answer.
“You people don’t understand. Back in the old days, that is exactly what I used to retort, whenever I see my dad trimming several of them down in our farms. That was back in my pre-teen years. If we don’t trim them down, these patch of ground will become a forest of unfruitful or poor yielding plantain suckers. And we must not inconvenience ourselves or grow our plantains at the expense of our neighbors. If you don’t trim them down, their leaves and suckers rapidly spread across the fence.”
The youngsters prefer their plantains ripe and fried. The older folks prefer their plantains green and boiled. So, in the morning, I had boiled green plantains plus fresh onions gravy and “tea” (Milo chocolate) for breakfast. In the evening, I had fried ripe plantain plus gravy and a cup of Java. Well, since you will insist on knowing what I had for lunch, I will tell you – cucumbers and fried groundnuts. Nigeria style. Yes, Port Harcourt not-so Garden City style.
A few more weeks to go for the third sucker. The 2-in-1 bunch is still growing.
Amazing is an understatement when heaven smiles on you. It doesn’t matter how hard or harder the times are or becoming.