Going Bananas II

Back in January 2013 not long after I installed my greenhouse I had a go growing a banana tree. It was a Dwarf Cavendish from Diggers Club and although it is considered a cold zone 10 plant (we’re cold zone 9b here in Ballan) it was thought that inside a greenhouse it might do well. The morning our thermometre registered -6°C outside the greenhouse it also registered -4°C inside and my poor little banana froze itself solid, never to recover. 😦

13 months on and I’ve been gifted a banana pup so we’re giving it a second go. 😀 Thanks Pam. 🙂

Work has been done to help the greenhouse retain a little more warmth over the coming winter. With 2 large black water butts in there to absorb and distribute the heat they collect we are already seeing more stable summertime temperatures in there. The black barrels absorb the heat and help keep the greenhouse a little cooler on hot days and on cool days or cool evenings they release any stored heat back into the atmosphere. I’ve also got a bale of straw in there I’ve been pouring a little water over in an effort to begin it composting down. Compost generates heat which will also hep to maintain a warmer atmosphere when the temperatures get cooler. With 2 large buckets of water in there too, the temperatures have been quite balmy even on hot days. 🙂 If it looks like we’re due for a cool morning in town (-2°C in Ballan has resulted in -6°C or even colder as we’re in a little valley and hence have our own micro climate) I can cover my little banana tree with hessian or even light a large candle safely in the greenhouse to hep keep even just a little more warmth in the air. Time will tell I guess. 🙂

With the seasons now having flipped over into Autumn and with the first frost date now behind us it is simply a waiting game to see what tomatoes will ripen and whether my pumpkins will fatten up before the frost kills them off. It’s been a challenging summer with a cool start then a viciously hot few days in there. Extremes are not a gardeners friend. 😦 Still, I had a look today and I had have 13 12 pumpkins of varying sizes on vines that are beginning to fatten up. I’ve read a few times that you can pinch out the tips of the runners to encourage the plant to pour its resources into the existing fruit and so I decided to pull out any plants that won’t fruit in time and to prune my pumpkin vines back so that they are focusing everything they have into the existing fruit on each vine. I’ve nothing much to lose really as the largest of my pumpkins is still smaller than a tennis ball but if I can get them large enough I will have a store of pumpkins to enjoy over the winter. I’ll have to hit them up with blood and bone and seaweed solutions after the forecast rains on the weekend.

Yes, you read that right, rain! We had a little rain on Tuesday, enough to wet through the top 5-8mm of soil (I checked 😉 ) but not enough to really do too much good. Although I’m not complaining. Any rain is good rain when one has had none to speak of for months. Here’s hoping we get a good 10mm on the weekend. My garden and water tanks are in NEED!

Well, that’s another long weekend done and dusted. Not the productive 3 day weekend we’d planned for (flat tyres needing repairs on long weekends will do that to you) but none the less a good one.

For those of you who celebrated Labor Day last weekend (and how many of us truly adhere to the 8 hour day our ancestors fought so hard to obtain?) what did you do with your 3 days off. And if you still have your Labor Day to look forward to, what did you do over the weekend just gone?


19 thoughts on “Going Bananas II

  1. Good luck with your banana, I wish they grew here!

  2. Lynda says:

    Have you investigated an oil lamp using vegetable oil. Many fast food places now use veg oil perhaps you can recycle it through filter and give it a second life and they can get their green creds. Other than that you could insulate the green house with bubblewrap – i just might know a factory that uses it for packaging (Doh, i wonder who). I think your hay bales and water drums with black are a cool (oops sorry) warm idea. Come On people, think outside the square. No electricity (except passive solar) or gas. What about a steel/alum box painted black. It would take longer to heat up but would hold it longer as well. Ill throw this at the engineers tomorrow. They love a challenge.

  3. Linne says:

    Keep us posted on the bananas, eh? I didn’t know they could grow in post, either! If you are keeping the electric usage down, I guess you won’t want to use an electric bulb or two hanging low in the greenhouse. They do work, but I know in future we’ll have to figure out something else to do. You might want to read up on Helen and Scott Nearing, amazing pioneers (both gone now) from 1932 on. There’s some info here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/living-the-good-life-zmaz77mazbon.aspx#axzz2w5mMQf3j

    They had a greenhouse in Vermont that had stone walls on the back and sides and were able to grow some things all winter nearly every year, without any additional heat source. Vermont isn’t too different from here for winters, either.

    Loved the Pint-sized Permies post, too.

    Well, I’m off to read more of your posts. Can’t believe I’m so far behind with everyone. 😉

  4. a says:

    A guy in Preston has a lady finger, yea, fruiting to maturity. I strongly suspect not so much variety of banana but urban heat island effect. Looking to buy a nice block ourselves, away from this concrete block city, but I will try to replicate in a smaller measure. A north facing part of the block will have a stone retaining wall, creating an alcove facing north for banana to live in. south side will back onto L shaped greenhouse. Around this part of the garden will be other dark coloured, heavy thermal mass things, like rocks for succulents, certain natives, lizards etc, and body of water because also holds heat as well as provides humidity (bananas love humidity). So I will try to create a smaller heat island microclimate. The household water will go to reed bed also, and the pipes carrying the shower water certainly could also run under soil level for transference of heat energy that would otherwise kill reeds or be lost to environment.

    If cleverly designed, you could also try directing heat from compost heaps etc.

    Or we could give up and just grow things that grow in our climate. (My blueberries are stellar thanks.etc)

    • Growing bananas in Ballan is a long shot but it has to be done. My kids adore bananas and in a post peak oil world they will be to us in southern Australia as oranges were to 17th century Britain. A rare and special Christmas treat for the wealthy. I’ve been doing all of the above but my banana is looking yellow and that’s not the fruit. I’m not giving up quite yet though.

      I figure now is the time to play and experiment as we have the time and affordability to fail. When the crash comes it will be about growing the guaranteed food providers and anything that is a maybe will be forgotten.

  5. narf77 says:

    The possums did a good job of pinching out the ends for me but they proceeded to pinch out the pumpkins as well which was a bit of a bugger. We got rain too! It was lovely and now our mornings are getting colder and I have the very first of my tomatoes attempting to ripen in the garden…sigh…looks like I will need a few green tomato recipes (fermented green tomatoes anyone? 😉 )

  6. Kim says:

    Hey, how’d you go with this? Any success?

    • Hi Kim, The pumpkins did get some size on them and thankfully the frosts held off last year – 25th April for first frost – and the banana pup is alive and well in a large wicking bin on the back deck inside the greenhouse. I’ve since added another banana – red dacca – but both are still small. I need to repot them in better soil I think. 🙂

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