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Archive for the ‘The Banana Files’ Category

Winter Greens

 

Plantation Friends Jason & Jane visited in October, indicating that they wanted to experiment with doing a Fall planting of some collard greens and brussel sprouts. I admit I was a bit incredulous at first… I have never planted anything so late in the season. But, something new is learned every day:  it seems the scheme has been going well, their plants have been thriving, and even now, on January 2nd, we have still yet to have our first frost of the year! Temperatures are scheduled to dip into the 20′s later this week, and I certainly will keep my hopes high for their plants…

 

Catching up…

 

Well, folks, it has been about five months since I have posted to The Banana Plantation blog. A lot of things have happened since then, and in the next few days, as a prelude to the end of 2011, I’ll be posting some of those sordid yet interesting details.

Some of you more savvy readers may have noticed that The Banana Plantation Facebook page has taken a hiatus, also. This was not an accident, but rather a carefully devised scheme to distance the Plantation’s activities from the Facebook crowd. On a side note, you may want to try taking a vacation from Facebook, yourself… and if you need some good reasons, read this.

Anyway, stay tuned during the next 2 weeks for a flurry of updates!

 

Purple power!

Riddle:  What is purple, about a foot long, and a treat to behold?

If you said “Barney the Dinosaur’s manhood”, you would unfortunately not be correct. No, I’m talking about the beautiful Japanese eggplants which have been nicely growing at The Plantation! I’ve already picked two, and there are at least another 4 or so which are likewise almost to full size.

Unlike the more traditional bulb-shaped eggplant fruit, this Japanese variety is long and narrow, and a much deeper purple color. Now, I should note that I also planted some of the usual kind, but they are taking a little longer to grow.

Eggplants were totally a random afterthought which came to my mind, after the sweet basil in that particular bed was savagely overtaken by weeds. I’m glad it happened this way, though… and I won’t be responsible for Barney’s jealousy.

 

Sure fooled me!

In March of 2010, I posted to this very blog that I had obtained a few palmetto trees from an area near the railroad, just down the street from the Plantation. Read that blog entry here. Well, this week I noticed a funny-looking blossom atop one of these supposed “palmetto trees” which I planted last year. And, conseqently, a little research revealed that no palmetto tree in existence can create a blossom of this type.

So… what are these trees which I planted?

Believe it or not, they are yuccas! I never assumed that they grew outside of the Southwest, but sure enough, the blossom is unmistakable. Have a look at the Wikipedia page for yuccas, and you’ll see. Yuccas! Can you believe it? The State Tree of New Mexico?! I still don’t know what they are doing along the railroad tracks in North Charleston, but you have to admit, this is pretty damn funny.

 

Ever upward

The great thing about maintaining a garden space like The Banana Plantation from year to year is the ability to attempt projects of ever-increasing sophistication. You try something one year, it is moderately successful, and then you improve on the design the following year, making it shine with majesty. This is something other so-called “urban gardens” with high volunteer turnover just can’t rival.

My cucumber plot is the perfect example of this. Last year, I had several cucumber plants which grew in every direction along the ground, and were often plagued by weeds and dry soil. This year, I planted more plants, covered them with mulch, and then trained them to grow upwards along a trellis of jute twine and wood posts.

I think the results speak for themselves. The leaves are greener, larger, and more healthy – and the vines a lot more prolific. It’s still early in the season, and I have already seen a few large cucumbers.

 

Eggplantation

After the raised bed containing sweet basil was overtaken by weeds, and after much deliberation and soul-searching, I finally decided to till up the ground, and plant 6 eggplants.

There are two varieties:  the more common type, and an elongated Japanese variety… and I alternated them in the bed, hopefully to cause an entertaining cross-pollination or visual effect when they start growing. A healthy dose of mulch was placed over top of them, so we’ll see what this brings about.

 

Tomato harvest

In the last few days, I’ve pulled more than a dozen good sized tomatoes off my vines. Despite the drought conditions here in Charleston, and the need to water on almost a daily basis, we can consider this year’s tomato harvest efforts to be a resounding success… and it isn’t even over yet! The largest four vines have a good number of tomatoes left on them, and the more recently planted six additional vines will be bearing fruit within the next few weeks.

I’m sorry… what was that? Pardon? I just cannot hear you, over the sound of how awesome I am.

 

Tomato takeoff

 

You mark my words, this is going to be an excellent year for tomatoes. Of the 10 tomato plants at The Plantation, 4 already have golf-ball sized tomatoes growing, with the others blossoming and not far behind.

You may recall my tomato-related lament from late October of last year (the fact that my plants refused to grow all Summer, and then produced tiny, emaciated tomatoes in October – read about it again)… but it seems that whatever the problem had been, it’s just a memory now.

 

Mulch makes magic happen

With the assistance of my new truck, and some very generous folks who were nice enough to give me a bunch of mulch which they over-ordered, I was able to perpetrate some serious business at The Plantation this weekend. I had enough mulch to cover both the bananas and all of the garden beds. This makes a huge difference when it comes to weeding, and the dark cypress also sets the green of the plants off nicely (not to mention supposedly conserves water, although I admit I sleep pretty well at night when I contemplate my current water usage).

 

First flowers!

 
 

First flowers of 2011 - purple zinnias