Seed Swaps

Perennial Edibles update: Bananas!, Ripening strawberry, Blueberry ridge completed, Keiffer pear planted

09 Mar 2012
Cloudy 22°C / 72°F

Photo #1: DH and I sawed down our banana trees in December, just before the first frost, and hauled them into the back yard to hold down the edges of the mulch-covered cardboard set in place to (try to) kill the grass beneath. Last weekend, I re-purposed the banana tree trunks into blueberry bed edging, and this weekend I noticed while mixing the last of the peat moss into the bed that two clusters of bananas had appeared at the top of one of the (rootless for 3+ months) banana trees! A miraculous last effort by this tree…

Photos #2-3: When I planted the blueberry bushes earlier this spring I turned the soil in a continuous 30 foot row and created a raised mound for each bush. This weekend, I finished creating a 30 foot raised ridge to connect all of the plants, and to give them all a safely drained spot in which to establish roots. I did a bunch of reading before planting, and a recurring point that was emphasized by most sources is that blueberries are often found nearby but slightly above standing water, and that their roots cannot survive saturated soil conditions for long. Most parts of my yard get squishy for a few days after heavy rainfall, which meant that action was required to protect my financial and time investments in the blueberries. The raised ridge is composed of topsoil from the 3 cubic yards delivered to my driveway (the pile is now gone!), 12 cubic feet of bagged Majestic Earth peat moss (to add acidic organic matter to the soil), 100 pounds (1 cubic foot) of washed play sand, and 4 pounds of sulfur powder (to acidify the soil), all turned with a shovel to mix with the native soil below. I mulched the surface of the ridge with 3 bales of long needle pine straw.

Photo #4: The first ripening strawberry of the year! Many thanks to my sister-in-law for weeding this bed this weekend.

Photo #5: I finally planted the Keiffer pear that I bought from Lowe’s! I removed sod, turned the soil, planted the tree with the potted soil line slightly above ground level, then mounded topsoil around the tree, and added mulch atop that, being careful not to let the soil or mulch come in contact with the trunk of the tree.




wow 3 cubic yards is a lot of soi to move!

Posted on 12 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

Yeah, soil is heavy stuff, and it took a few weekends to make that pile disappear! The soil is now distributed across the yard, in the pomegranate bed, the blueberry ridge, the blackberry ridge, in mounds around a bunch of freshly planted trees, and in the soon-to-be-completed (I hope) asparagus bed.

Posted on 12 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

Will you eat those bananas?

Posted on 12 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

The bananas didn’t get a chance to mature – the one I tasted did NOT have a pleasant flavor! But I had to try. :)

Posted on 12 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

No plans to grow bananas?

Posted on 19 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

The frost-free season’s a bit too short here to get fruit, but I do love the look of the plants, and they’re growing beautifully again (especially in our front flower bed).

Posted on 21 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

Wow, the front garden looks terrific! Pity about the short season, fresh bananas are much nicer and a good reward for suffering the hot sticky summer. If the winters here get any warmer I will be able to fruit bananas, but at the moment there is no place in this yard that is enough of a heat trap. I still want to keep a plant or two just for the leaves to wrap tamales.

Posted on 22 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

Thanks! I’ve been putting a lot of effort into that set of beds lately, and after fertilizing and mulching them tomorrow I’m looking forward to just sitting back and enjoying for a little while…
I remember buying the most delicious tiny bananas at farmers’ markets in QLD when I was there as a student! Along with passion fruit, and pineapples, and star fruit, oh my! :)
I just looked at the website of the local extension service hoping to find a recommendation for a quicker-fruiting miniature banana variety that could reliably product fruit here, but alas, not in South Carolina. I read that not only are our winters a problem (growth stops when temperatures dip below 53’F/12’C which is a frequent occurrence in December-February), but our hot summers are a problem (growth slows when temperatures exceed 80’F/27’C which is common in May-September).
I’ve wrapped tamales in corn husks before, but never in banana leaves! Does it change the flavor?

Posted on 22 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

Those tiny bananas would be Lady Finger. They are one of the more cold tolerant, and the one I have trapped in a tub in the garden. Poor thing, it was supposed to be planted out three years ago!!! Now I think it may have a disease, but will wait until my NQ friend comes to visit as I’m sure he can tell me. I can’t see how your high temps would be worse than what bananas put up with in NQ? Maybe after your garden is more established you will find the right microclimate.

Yes, the banana leaf gives a quite different flavour to a tamale. However, they are used in Yucatan, so I just used a recipe from there that was intended for banana leaf. Actually, I think the flavour would be fine with most tamale seasonings. And so much easier to wrap! You cut the mid vein out, cut to size and flame briefly over a gas burner, both sides until it becomes pliable. Wrap and tie with a strand of the leaf fibre. My next experiment will be with using taro leaf, but I suspect it will not work as well, probably too wet, but still worth trying one or two next batch.

Posted on 25 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

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