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Yes We Will Have Bananas ... and Raspberries Too! With Tromboncino on the Side ;-)

Just not to-day! But soon, soon ...

Tissue-culture Dwarf Ducasse; they are around 18months to 2 years old - lost the plot a bit with the timing. One over-wintered here surrounded by bubble-wrap with the expectation that it would really be ahead of the others. The other 3 survived Cyclone Yasi and yet they are all making bunches at almost the same time.

'Dwarf' - yes well I suppose 8ft rather than 15ft is a kind of 'dwarf'. Contemplating getting the mature bunch down, hmmm quite a challenge. The real dwarfs are the Williams/Cavendish variety which we are not allowed to grow here.

With clay under the topsoil and the backyard inclined to a quagmire when we get really heavy rain, the Bananas (and the PawPaws) are built up about a foot. Mostly I have fertilised them with Comfrey. There's a Comfrey plant growing in between both lots of plants (4 Bananas, 2 Comfrey). Every now and then I chop it down with a machete and leave it lie. Occasionally I give the Bananas a bit of extra fertilising but not that much. I chop down the suckers and leave them to add to the soil fertility. That's all I ever did minus the Comfrey, when I grew Lady Fingers way back when (when I could shinny up a ladder and wrestle a full bunch). Self-fertilising if that's the word (iso-fert?) using the plant to fertilise itself with this time, the addition of the Comfrey leaves.

We'll follow the development of the first bunch out. If all 4 bunches reach maturity we are going to have dried Bananas coming out of our ears. Mind you, dried home-grown Bananas are really something else!

3rd December: now finally I understand what a 'flag leaf' is ... I heard it was a 'half-sized leaf' and so it is - the length is half of the usual leaves. So here is the 'flag leaf':

Bit hard to see the first peeping of the bunch, limitations of physical access and photographic short-comings.

We can see it now!

First bracts starting to lift - the embryo Bananas are within each layer of bract.

The much-awaited embryo Bananas ...

Update 15th January 2013: The first bunch is almost ready, not sure exactly but within a week or two is my best guess. This is the bunch I've been following:

And one fruit to experiment with:

I've been wondering what to do with 3 bunches of ripe Bananas very close together in time. Apart from the drying them there's interesting recipes for variations on pickled Bananas to have as part of a salad. Sounds tempting. I twisted off this baby to see what happens when it is cooked. I'm planning a separate blog for a Banana bell salad and the pickled fruit.

And now to the Raspberries ... a couple of years ago I was fortunate to be given some cuttings of Willamette variety of exotic Raspberry (thank you Lissa!). They sat and sulked but this year they have decided to co-operate and are making their first fruit.

The flavour of the first one was superb! Juicy and sweet. The only other fresh Raspberries I have ever tasted are from a native Raspberry I bought at Yandina Permaculture. The flavour is more aromatic, not so juicy and a bit more seedy. But given some more nutrients and water and thinning out of the many stems, could be a good addition to the autumn garden since both plants fruit at very different times. I expect that the exotic varieties have been selectively bred where our native ones are just as they come with little or no selection for desirable qualities.

Update 15th January 2013: The Raspberries have been pruned and deserve a separate blog to chart their journery.

And now for the Tromboncino - thanks to Linda Woodrow for introducing me to these fruit. A more tropical-hardy version of Zucchini, less subject to moulds I hear. The two plants are now roaring up the 6ft trellis - they do have room to move sideways but not further up - are just beginning to think about fruiting.

The embryo Trom is around 2 inches long.

Update 15th January, 2013: And some on the vine - note that now the vine has quite a lot of powdery mildew (and attendant yellow ladybirds) although it seems to be growing strongly. And with all this dryness, mildew was the last thing I expected. And it's on a trellis and in full sun and wind. Anyway ... the fruit are just so worth growing, lightly fried they are slightly crunchy (no Zucch wateriness) sweetish and seriously delicious. And picked and ready to be chopped.

The thickest part is around 25cm in diameter and about as firm as I want it, it gets a tad tough to chop. This size is my ideal for eating. To get seeds, they will have to grow way larger than this if Zucchini are anything to go by.

Altogether a totally delightful plant, enthusiastic to a fault, keep the water up to them and enjoy the fruits of your pollination labour (plenty of ants but few bees) so hand-pollination is the go.

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Comment by Andrew Cumberland on January 10, 2013 at 0:38

I'm really glad you said that Elaine.  I was getting worried my vege patch was a failure!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on January 10, 2013 at 0:23

So far no plant has produced enough crop for jam - we're flat out getting an entree once a week from the Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries. The reality is that fruit is picked more or less daily and when added up would be an entree ...

I'd need many more plants and lots more water and nutrients to get a crop of any size close to making jam!

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on January 9, 2013 at 22:33

I'm tapping my fingers on the desk thinking - Mmmm... full of seeds hey?... seeds = pectin = jam! I added a blueberry this year and a goozeberry (actually, that was now last year!). The goozeberry fruited (just a little crop), but it was in for just a few months.

Comment by Florence on December 15, 2012 at 12:16

I haven't read up on pruning of blueberries (or that I remember), but from my observation, it appears to fruit on 2nd year wood, so I wouldn't be pruning it too much.... I've never pruned the one at my mum's place yet, I think you only prune older bushes or branches which declined in production.... 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 14, 2012 at 17:38

The cucurbits in general I suppose would be 'tender' in southern states - I've not gardened south of Brisbane so don't really know. But up here they love the summer and sulk over winter.

Found out that Blueberries need pruning. No one ever tells we beginners those vital pieces of information. Ditto with the Raspberries - more important even than the Blueberries since many stems do not equal much fruit.

Coconut water? To die for! I've not photographed the Tromboncino again Lissa but I hand-pollinated it yesterday and it's growing apace. Picked an immature one today, the flower had fallen off and it's only 4 inches long so it wasn't going to grow.

Tracy, you can bet after a couple of years of waiting, the emergence of the first bunch was an exciting day!

Comment by Lissa on December 14, 2012 at 17:08

Coconut water (or juice as we called it when Dad brought coconuts home for us as kids and showed us how to access the goody inside) is my favourite drink.

How is that Trombonchino fruit in the pic coming along Elaine? Is it getting any bigger?

Comment by Florence on December 14, 2012 at 16:23

I love coconut water !!

Envy of your bananas and raspberries ~ my new blueberry plant I bought last year is fruiting now too :)  Only a half handful of fruit, but a good start :)  The plant I bought my mum fruited over a month ago, and had a lot of fruits since it's now a few years old :) 

Comment by Tracy Arnold on December 13, 2012 at 7:09

Looking fabulous Elaine!  How exciting it must have been to see all those little bananas growing there!

I've always wanted banana's - maybe soon...  

Tromboncino? Oooh, looks interesting.  Diggers have some seed, they're listed as 'tender' annual, but obviously doing ok in your garden in this heat?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 10, 2012 at 19:47

Mmmm, fresh Coconut water! To die for! Ah well, officially down here in SE Qld, we are not permitted to grow Cavendish. They are the ideal size for little old ladies like us to handle but that's the way it is.

Comment by James Rosenlund on December 10, 2012 at 19:17

Very healthy looking banana plant. I grew 4 varieties when I lived in Cooktown Elaine, 3 varieties were very tall, but the dwarf cavandish was nice and low. I really miss not having any now and also the coconut trees. I use to open the green coconut for the water and mix it with lime juice and blended/strained fennel leaf -- refreshing.

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