What’s the best way to get sugar cane started in your yard or home garden? I tried 3 different methods to find out which works best: The video is fairly long–about 15 minutes–but is a step-by-step process filmed over 5 months. The three methods I used to start the cane after cutting it into pieces with two joints each were:
- Plant the seed pieces directly into the ground, horizontally.
- Plant the seed pieces in potting soil in a large pot.
- Place the seed piece in a bucket of water.
I did this experiment from mid December through the following June. Had I started the rooting process in April or May, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten quicker results with warmer weather. As it was, we did have an unusually warm winter, with January and February being the warmest months, and March being the coldest.
Results: I found that by simply cutting the cane into two foot lengths, then placing them vertically in a 5 gallon bucket filled 3/4 with water, I got the quickest development of roots and cane sprouts. Once the sprouts were a few inches long and showed some small root development, I cut the cane into sections with two joints per piece and planted them in large pots with potting soil to allow them to develop sturdy roots before setting out in the garden. I found that sprinkling half a cup of blood meal on the potted cane plants every few weeks greatly improved their health and rate of growth. Finally, choosing a location in full sun for planting them out in the yard is probably best for maximum growth.
For those of you interested in finding out more about growing and using sugar cane, below are some resources that I’ve enjoyed reading and watching:
Here’s an article about a Florida family that has grown cane and made syrup on their farm for generations.
Here’s an article from a family in Costa Rica showing them using their hand roller-press to extract juice from purple sugar cane. Very beautiful photos of the cane.
Below are some videos showing various methods of extracting juice from sugar cane for drinking. Syrup makers would use much heavier equipment to handle larger quantities of cane quickly.