The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.

Taro and similar vegetables are planted by women in August and September among the yams, at distances of 2 or 3 feet apart.  For this purpose they take the young secondary growths which crop up round the main central plants during the year. [89] They are ready for eating in, say, May or June of the following year.  They are dug up by women from day to day as wanted, as they, like the sweet potato, cannot be kept, as the yams are, after being taken up.  There is, however, a method when the taro is ripe and needs digging up, but is not then required for eating, of making a large hole in the ground, filling it with grass, digging up the taro, putting it on the grass in the hole, covering and surrounding it with more grass, and then filling up with soil, and so preserving the taro for future use by a sort of ensilage system.  I was told that this was not done on the plains.

Bananas are planted by men, this being done every year, and off and on all through the year, generally in old potato gardens.  In this case they take the young offshoots, which break out near the bases of the stems.  The closeness of planting varies considerably.  The fruit is gathered all through the year by men.  A banana will generally begin to bear fruit about twelve months after planting, though some sorts of banana take as long as two years.

Sugar-cane is planted by men off and on during the whole year, generally in old potato gardens, the growing points at the tops of the canes being put into the ground at distances of 5 or 6 feet apart.  Each plant produces a number of canes, and these begin to be edible after six or eight months.  They are then cut for eating by both men and women.

As regards both banana and sugar-cane, the people, after planting them in the potato gardens, allow the potatoes to still go on growing and spreading; but these potatoes are merely used for the pigs, the people only eating those grown in their open patches.

Beans of a big coarse-growing sort, with large pods from 8 to 18 inches long, are planted by women about September by the garden fences of the potato and yam gardens, and allowed to creep up these fences.  They furnish edible fruit in about three or four months from the time of planting, and are then gathered by the women.  Only the inside seeds are eaten (not the pod); and even these are so hard that twenty—­four hours’ boiling does not soften them—­indeed, they are usually roasted.

Pandanus trees are grown in the bush and not in the gardens.  The ine which is a large form (Plate 80), is always grown at a height of not less than 5,000 feet; but there is a smaller one which is grown by a river or stream.  The malage is always grown in the valleys near brooks and rivers.

As regards the gardens generally, they may be roughly divided into sweet potato gardens and yam gardens.  In the former are also grown bananas, sugar-cane, beans, pumpkin, cucumber and maize; and in the latter taro and beans, and the reed plant with the asparagus flavour to which I have already referred.  The general tending of the bananas and sugar-canes, and to a certain extent the yams, is done by men; but in other respects the garden produce is looked after by women, who also attend to the weeding and keeping of the gardens clean, the men looking after the fences.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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