Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Whys of Gardening - Banana Trees

Banana Trees June of 2009 - Below, Banana Trees in June of 2008

I was sitting in my living roof cabana, this morning having a cup and jo and praising the Lord for an incredible cool, sunny, low humidity morning. As my toes nestled into the carpet of thyme beneath my feet, the scent wafted up and I got to philosophying (don’t worry I made that up) and wondering about phenomenas in the garden.

The sun was coming up in the east like it is suppose to but I naturally put my hand up to shield my eyes because I hadn’t thought to bring my sunglasses.
That got me thinking, hey wait a minute, last year on the 2nd day of June I didn’t have this problem.

I planted two hardy banana trees, Musu basjoo last April (I can remember the exact date because my daughter called as I was digging the holes to tell me her water just broke and I might want to speed it up if I was going to make it in time for the arrival of my grand daughter) on either side of the cabana to block the morning and afternoon sun.

They (banana trees) were beautiful and worked perfectly plus they added something I hadn’t counted on, sound. The incredible large leaves make a lot of noise as the summer breezes knock them about. Not annoying white noise like air conditioners but a soothing rhythmic tune that one would expect to hear on a tropical island.

Sitting in the Adirondack chairs under the cool space of the living roof gazing a the movement and reflections in the water of the pool, listening to the beat of the banana tree leaves is not the best place for a gardener to sit for very long. If you are not careful you can catch a laid-back island attitude where all you want to do is nap, snack, read and drink fruity drinks with the cute little umbrellas.

This year my hardy banana trees are a bit too short to catch the wind currents and look more like a shrub. So, why is it those same banana trees are only half the height of last year? I followed manufacturer’s instructions and cut them back to about 6” after the first hard, killing frost and tucked them in for a long winters nap with a thick cover of soil conditioner.

I was thrilled when they sprouted up in the spring like they are suppose to. (They really are hardy) They grew quickly to about 3 feet or so and quit. I put a pile of compost around them for fertilizer this spring so the spring rains could wash it down to the roots. I keep them watered when it doesn’t rain, so why aren’t they doing their job and providing shade from the east and especially west sun?

And, I was driving in a nearby neighborhood this past spring and noticed that some folks had planted banana trees at the end of their drive and it looked to me like they had either never cut them back or they cut them at the point where the leaves formed. Well, they apparently don’t know anything about banana tree maintenance I thought.

Okay, so maybe I’m not as smart as I thought (I hate that) because while I thought I was doing everything correctly my trees are puny while their trees are tall and lush (yes, I drove back by recently to check it out). I think I’m going to hit them hard with Monty’s Joy Juice and see if they will shoot up before the dog days of summer set in…and you can bet I’m not cutting them to the ground this fall, I’ll take my chances and see if that will work better for next year. Feel free to lend advice.

1 comment:

Ron S. said...

I love those bananna trees!!! I hope the "Joy Juice" (love that name) works!!! Everyone should plant Bannana's just like going to the islands without the written in a song years ago; you can "take a trip and never leave the farm"!!!!