The Saga of the Unruly Banana

The other day I noticed a small green leaf on my window sash. I thought it was just a piece of banana leaf torn off during a thunderstorm, but it didn't dry up and die, it got BIGGER!

Upon further inspection, it turns out that a pup from one of the large banana plant had grown up between the siding and the concrete block wall. YIKES!

I had to do something about it, so I looked at the situation, and found I would have to take out it's mother plant to get it out of there. Not a problem. I was thinking of taking the bananas out anyway.

After taking out the basket hanger and moving a lot of containers to clear the way for it to fall, I pulled it out of the ground by LITERALLY hanging on it until it pulled itself out of the ground. Then I chopped the roots still holding it, chopped the baby away from it, and guided it to fall in the empty space I'd created.

My courtyard is 11 ft. wide, and it was equally as tall, so I angled it so it didn't take out my tomatoes. 

Banana Corm Pieces
Once it was out, I went in and dug around the pup and tried to figure out how to get it out. My first chore was to cut through the trunk to separate the corm from the top, so the top would die. That wasn't much fun, since the trunk was right up against the concrete wall, and I didn't want to damage my saw. I finally managed to do that, then I had to figure out how to get the corm out. I ended up chopping it up and pulling it out one piece at a time. (pic #2- pieces)

So now I had a very large hole and had taken out one of the only things creating any shade in that area. If you've read my blog, you'll know that my courtyard has very little shade, so I'm always trying to create it with something. The bananas were pretty good for that, but now one is gone, so I'll have to bring some plants indoors until I can create more shade. 

Mother Plant in Two Pieces
I also had a very large banana plant that needed to be chopped up and disposed of. By the way, if anybody tells you that a large banana trunk is easy to saw through, they're lying.

I had to cut away the dead leaves before I could even start to saw it into pieces. At first, I cut the bottom half to about four feet, planning to plant it elsewhere. HA! The joke was on me! Just so you'll know, a four-foot section of mature banana with the corm is heavy as hell! 

So, since that wasn't happening, I set about cutting the entire thing into smaller sections that I'll turn into compost. That took  a lot longer than I expected it too, and made me realize I really need a power jigsaw.

Mess in the Yard
This morning, I topped the other large banana in an attempt to create some shade for that area with the leaves that will come out lower to the ground. In the end, I had a pile of leaves and trunk logs along with a big banana top making a mess in the courtyard. (Yes, that's a pencil cactus in the background).

Banana is Planted Here
I wasn't up to any more sawing, so I planted the other corm out in the front yard next to the fence between my and my neighbor's yard. It will probably annoy the neighbors, but TOUGH! There are baby taro plants behind it, and I may need to move those to I can harvest them this winter. 

I'm not quite done yet, but that's it for today. I'm not sure if I should take the other big banana out, or just keep an eye on any pups it sends out so I don't have that problem again. It probably won't get bananas this year, and may die back anyway, so I'm going to just wait and see for now.

At any rate, it's 11 a.m. and I haven't had breakfast yet, so I'm off to cook up some bacon and eggs. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Diary - April 5, 2018 - Creating a Pollinator Paradise

I'm determined to attract more pollinators to my garden this year. I had planned to plant a bunch of annuals, but missed my chance in the fall, and now I'm just changing gears on that.

I cut back all my milkweeds during the freeze, but most survived and are growing strong with many more branches. I rooted about 25 cuttings in water over the winter. I planted those out into the butterfly bed, so I now have about 38 branches of milkweed. I just pinched them all back to get more branches. I don't even know if they'll bloom in this bed, because it gets only morning sun, but I'm growing them for the monarchs, not for me. I had all my milkweed in different places, but had to move the larvae around from one to another, so I just put them all in one bed so they can get to them all by themselves.

I've also dug up about 18 volunteer vinca seedlings to grow out and plant all around for nectar for the bees and butterflies, and more are coming up in the gardens. These are mostly pink and white, so I may buy some other colors when they get into the stores. Native bees seem to like them a lot. Have a ton of marigold seeds from last year to plant out too. I was going to plant zinnias, but I don't know if it may be too late for those, since they are so susceptible to fungus. I may wait until fall to plant those.

Planted morning glory seeds and am planting cypress vine seeds also, hoping to attract more hummingbirds. Of course, I have my brugmansias and daturas for the night flying moths. I grew some brugs from seed last year, so I'm planting those, all 9 of them, out along the fence, so they can grow with abandon and not have to worry about interfering with the sidewalks. The soil isn't too good up there, but I'm sure they'll do fine if I pile mulch around them and fertilize.

All of my tropical hibiscus died back in the freeze, and while one is coming back strong, the red and peach colored ones only have one little shoot each, so I planted the morning glories so they'll grow up and over the dead branches to provide shade for the gingers and wandering jews underneath. I'm going to miss my pretty hibiscus flowers smiling up over the courtyard wall, but maybe some morning glories will grow up and spill over that wall this year.

In the meantime, I have several Texas Star hibiscus to plant out, one Cranberry hibiscus, and am babying a couple of volunteers of H. radiatus (huge burgundy flowers). I don't think I'm going to grow any H. sabdariffa (sorrel) this year. I need much more than I had to get a decent amount of sepals, and I don't have the room. I may seed some more cranberry hibiscus, but it all depends on how well this one does. It's about a foot tall, and I got most of mine last year by getting cuttings from one plant, so I'll see about that. 

That's all for now. I have a lot of flower seeds I purchased last year that I'll either plant or give away, so stay tuned.

Happy Gardening!

Month-by-Month in North Florida: What to Plant in April (UPDATED for 2018)

April is the last planting month for many vegetables in North Florida before the heat of summer comes. There are actually very few vegetables you can still start from seed, but you can still use starter plants for some, and there are oh so many