Since the community garden at Serangoon North was started two years ago, I have spotted a couple of occasions that people have helped themselves to the leaves of the banana plants that were planted in the garden. The banana plants are planted in a narrow strip of land that is located just next to the seating area of the basketbal court and that provided easy access to people who want to take a leaf or two for their own use.
Banana leaves are not cheaply sold in the local wet market. A short section costs a dollar plus and people use them as receptacles for their nasi lemak and other cooking uses as well as to serve as a base for ironing their clothes. It is generally alright if people harvest a leaf on their own but I would definitely prefer them to ask for permission before taking. My fellow community gardeners and I would glady cut one leaf down for them to take home.
However, one of the bad habits that these people has is that they only harvest the newly unfurled leaves and what’s more, whenever they snip a leaf, they do so by cutting them into half and leave the other half attached via its petiole to the plant. This is extremely unsightly and has pissed me off many times. Why can’t they just cut the entire leaf???
One of the bananas grown in front of the garden that suffered a bad hair cut. Luckily, it regenerated a new leaf quickly enough.
What horrified me recently was that someone discriminately and greedily harvested quite a lot of leaves from a few of my banana plants that have been planted right in front of the garden. I intended to grow them up as specimen plants to front the entrance of the community garden and this thief simply ruined the look. This happened on Deepavali and the person took a large number leaves from three of the four plants grown at the entrance.
A banana plant that had half of its leaves trimmed off. It looked worse earlier because I have tidied the plant abit before taking this picture.
I thought that would be the last time for now. Just yesterday when I was doing some planting in the garden, a fellow resident pointed to me that the banana plants grown along the long narrow strip were also not spared. The thief did the same thing and what was worse this time was that all the leaves were taken from one side, leaving my plants looking really wierd.
Filled with anger and frustration, I pondered whether I should just exterminate the entire banana plantation in my community garden. My garden is one that is open to the public and there is nothing really I can do to prevent such incidents. Such actions really destroy the look of my community garden’s landscape and the overharvesting of leaves from banana plants can actually weaken them in the long term.
When would Singaporeans learn to ask for permission before taking something from someone’s garden?