Friday, May 30, 2008

G[r]o[w]ing Bananas

It's Friday morning.  The sun is beginning to paint the power lines, the trees, and the high parts of the Curry Mansion across Ann Street.  I'm half-listening to Scott McClellan (link shows the near-instantaneous ability of Wikipedia to capture new information on a topic) being interviewed on C-SPAN.  Rommel is on his rug just outside the door, waiting for his morning walk with Chris.  

Maggie is just inside the doors to the living/dining room, waiting for Rommel to leave so she can go outside and "use" the yard for a few minutes.  Rommel rules over the outside, jealously protecting his territory.  Maggie sneaks around while Rommel is away, or behind a gate, but she gets free run (not that she runs much anymore) of the inside spaces of the house and the gallery.

Across the street, guests at the Curry Mansion are straggling onto the porch for breakfast, a sure sign of possible bad weather since breakfast is normally on the outside decks in back by the pool.

Doug Bennett enlightened me this week about bananas and banana "trees", about which previously I knew very little, in fact, next to nothing.  For example, we had two plants that bore fruit last year, smallish bananas that weren't as flavorful as the ones from Chiquita at the markets.  An Hispanic woman, however, asked for and received a large stalk of them.  She said that her family prized them as things to be cooked and served at meals.  Now before anyone goes saying, "Oh, they're plantains.", I'll tell you, I don't think so.  They look like bananas, taste a little like bananas, and they don't look like the plantains that I've seen.

Anyway, we've been waiting for this year's crop to begin growing on the broad-leafed stems of the still-standing plants, meanwhile noticing that new "trees" are coming up from the ground alongside the old one.  After reading Doug's posting from last week, I now know that banana plants aren't trees, but what are called pseudo-stems; that they only flower and bear fruit once and should be cut down so new ones can grow; that the fruit, stems and leaves have a variety of uses and are a staple of food and commerce in many places around the world; and that the sap of the plant is a very good adhesive.

After we have someone cut the old stems, we're going to take a look at removing the dead growth on the big palm tree next to the front driveway.  Then propagating a nice stand of night-blooming jasmine.

Tropiculture can be interesting.  And thanks to Doug for the tip.


Anonymous said...

LOVE this town... LOVE it.

Here's my take on Robert the Doll:

Thanks !! Feel free to link me.

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

I want to plant some banana trees, but the wife is not so keen on the subject, for someone told her that there are huge spiders that are attracted to them. Have you found this to be true or not?

Robert Kelly said...

We haven't found spiders to be a problem. In fact, we've never seen a "huge" spider at all here in Key West.

We do get ants on the trunk of the "tree" and inside the stalk when it is cut off. We can take care of them with a liberal dusting with borax (boric acid) or diatomaceous earth on and around the plant.

Webmaster AKC 1 said...

More people should plant fruit trees! (OK, a banana isn't technically a tree, but...) Most people don't know how much better tree-ripened bananas are than the store-bought variety. The best ones we had (before it got too shady to grow them around us) were from Joe Bilbrey who lived on Riviera Dr. They had a huge stand that eventually took over their yard. They came from Margaret Braisted at the Garden Club. Another guy that knows his bananas is Steve Hodges at the Botanical Center on Stock Island: . Now there IS the problem of your neighbors taking them before you get to them...
Regards, John M

Use OpenDNS