My mother is a farmer. So was her mother before her. I grew up understanding the basic concepts of sowing and harvesting. I understood early in life that before sowing, you need seeds, a hoe/cutlass (don’t tell anyone I’m that old) cleared piece of land and rain is.
My grandmother cleared out her farmland in January. Ridges were done and ready for seeds to be sown in February. She planted yams in February. Yams weren’t harvested until September. She planted different types of crops like tomatoes, garden eggs, and maize between the yam ridges. I loved how fast maize went from seed to corn. Maize was planted around March or April. Although, harvest isn’t for another ninety days, you see sprouts as early as weeks after planting. If you planted in March, you’d harvest in June. You could plant again in July (the second planting season) and have another harvest around the same time you’d be harvesting your yams.
My mother on the other hand is what you’d consider a cash crop farmer. My mother is a cocoa farmer. On her cocoa farm, she grows cocoa trees alongside banana and plantain trees. You see, banana and plantain trees contain about ninety-three percent water. They are planted to help water the soil for cocoa to flourish.
Planting of banana seed till harvest is a rough twelve-month journey with little care. On average, depending on soil, banana and plantain trees live between three to six years but its stem which produces the fruit only lives long enough to produce fruit. After cutting to get the fruit, the stem dies, and a new one will grow from the rhizome to give you your next round of fruits. After about six years, fresh seeds have to be planted.
Cocoa seed require the right amount of watering, fertilization, hand pollination, and pruning. All these done for approximately three to four years before they flower and first harvest gotten. The tree will live for about a hundred years. Sixty of those years are classified as its most productive years.
I’ve been doing a lot of thikning about legacy and generational wealth lately and here are some things that being the daughter of a farmer has taught me.
1) Planting: There’s always time to plant. Find what you want to plant. Determine when you want to plant. Plant at the right time if you want a double harvest. If a single harvest is what you want, that’s okay too.
2) Water and keep watering – Sometimes rain will come. Othertimes, other trees like my mother’s banana trees will water your dry land. If or when the drought comes, you might have to manually water your plant. Learn the process, find what works for you, and be consistent. Have things or people that’ll nourish you while you’re growing.
3) Trust a little bit more – Corn takes at least ninety days to grow for a quarterly harvest. Banana will continue yielding fruits after twelve months for another six years. Cocoa trees can become a heritage to be inherited by your children. Know what you planted. Did you plant for a season? Did you plan for generations? Growth takes time, trust in what you planted.
4) Everything has a lifecycle – Something has to die for new things to come. Some plants die early, other’s grow old. When the time of a plant is over, clear your land for new seeds. Appreciate your harvests but always keep space to make room for new things.
5) Be a little patient – Cocoa tree planted the same time maize was planted will not produce a single pod for another five years. Those you started with might have a shorter journey, let them run their course. One could have a double harvest of corn while yam was still buried and growing. Just because we couldn’t see the yams’ growth didn’t mean they weren’t growing. My grandmother’s sowing and harvesting were done yearly. Her efforts fed her family throughout the year. Gains from my mother’s farms put me from school through school – Primary to University.
6) Know when to start – Corn harvest can be done twice if you plant earlier than others. If you plant your maize late, you’d have just one maize harvest season in the year. Yams you only plant just once. If you plant late, you’d have to wait till the next planting season.
7) All you have to do is start – Decide you want to sow. Decide what you want to sow. But whenever you get a chance to sow a seed, sow! Sow even if it means you get just one harvest season.