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Sugar Cane in Kentucky

October 24, 2015

 Brought a couple of these 6 foot tall babies back from my biz trip to Florida last week. Bought them at a farmer’s market in Homestead. I had driven through at least one hundred miles of sugar cane fields, watching the trailers hauling chopped sugar cane to the processing plant in Belle Glade, FL and was totally mesmerized by the whole process. This is a half a billion dollar a year industry. Man, we go through a LOT of sugar!

On the way home,  I pulled into a Taco Bell drive thru and a nice young teen asked excitedly, “Is that sugar cane?” (Due to their length, I had to cram the cane in on top of luggage sideways, smashed up against the windows.) When I said yes, his eyes sparkled and then teared up. He said that as a child, he used to chew/eat/suck on it on his grandfather’s farm but hadn’t seen sugar cane since. I offered to cut him off a chunk if he had a sharp knive. Alas, Taco Bell did not keep any sharp knives laying around, so I had to drive off, feeling his wash of memories as though they were my own

.I decided to create sugar cane memories for MY kids so I threw a pizza party- first firing of my WFO this year and introduced sugar cane to my gang. I think I was more excited about it than they, but they did demolish every bit I had prepped. asked a lot of questions, and we went another two rounds. The flavor is a light, crystal sweet and very refreshing.Since I did not have a sugar cane juicer handy, we had to chew or suck on the cane to break the cell walls to release the juice. Fun but I found myself mentally rummaging through my basement storage of old juicers, grinders, etc… to do the job more efficiently. Not worth it for this small amount which led me to my next challenge- raising sugar cane in Kentucky!

I cut 6″ chunks of cane and planted them horizontally in several pots with a mix of dirt and sand and have all in my unheated sun room.  According to the Internet, these will sprout in the spring. I also placed a piece in a vase of water where I am rooting a vine cutting. In less than a week, the darned thing is already rooting and a bud swelling up. I have no illusions about farming a tropical plant in a temperate zone- these will all be potted plants on my deck or in my home and with luck, will shoot upwards of 8-12 ft in the summer. I can cut them down in the fall, bring the pots into my sun room to overwinter and have sugar cane to juice and experiment with.

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