Yes, we have no bananas

September 2013

My banana plants have melancholy.  I worked on them all last spring and summer and brought them up to a level of excellence unparalleled in the history of the neighborhood.  Now they’re crap.  A cold spell and high coastal winds badly damaged the leaves and who knows if the plants themselves will survive.  One already toppled over and I doubt it was collateral damage from the dissipating Squirrel War.

February 2014

Well, a gardener’s work is never done. I’ll get them up to snuff again.  Contrary to popular opinion, banana plants are not trees.  Actually, the banana plant is an herb– the largest herb on the planet, of which we have knowledge.  i suppose there could be a larger herb somewhere in the jungles of Indonesia.  Or, perhaps, tucked away in the Amazon?The leaves of the plant grow from the trunk called a corm. In the next set of photos you can see the “cigar” .  It will unwrap to form the new leaf. A banana plant clones itself by forming “pups” which grow from the main roots of the parent. A parent plant can have several pups at one time, but since the pups feed through the parent’s root system, this can put stress on the parent. It’s also a problem if the pup is too close to the parent. Typically, once the pup has grown a bit, you should dig it up, cut it from the parent and transplant it.

Cigars beginning to unfold

Pup and parent

Banana plants that produce fruit are only good for about 8-10 years. Then the plant has to be cut down. Unfortunately, the plants in my yard, not counting the pups, have been around many years. They won’t be producing fruit.  Once all the pups are fully grown I can cut down the old parent plants.

Bananas are good for you. Think of a banana as being a good sized nutritional package.  It even comes in its own envelope. It’s loaded with potassium which is an essential electrolyte mineral. I think the banana acquired a good reputation due to Carmen Miranda. The Chiquita Banana story?  No, don’t know who Carmen Miranda was? I’ll give you a brief history.

Carmen Miranda was a famous samba singer in Brazil. She moved to the States and gained more fame.  She was known for her headdresses of fruit. Her connection with Chiquita Banana Company was in a commercial, singing the Chiquita Banana song. The song (jingle) came out in 1944 and the blue sticker put on every banana had a banana wearing a hat of fruit.  This sticker is still on every banana sold under that label, though Chiquita Banana is now “Miss Chiquita” and portrayed by a real woman with a fruit headdress.

CARMEN MIRANDA

CARMEN MIRANDA

Image

Image

Carmen Miranda was in 14 movies. She was so popular in the ’30s and ’40s that at one point she was the highest paid woman in America. She died from a heart attack in 1955 at the age of 46. I’ve included some photos of her for your enjoyment. Her costumes were spectacular. She was first in full regalia with the fruit headdress in the Elizabeth Taylor movie, “A date with Judy”, 1948.
CARMEN MIRANDA

CARMEN MIRANDA

CARMEN MIRANDA

CARMEN MIRANDA

CARMEN MIRANDA

CARMEN MIRANDA

 

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8 thoughts on “Yes, we have no bananas

    • These are only a bit taller than me. I’ve seen them in the Amazon jungle and some are extremely tall. It’s really cool to be able to grow tropical plants outside. Lucy

  1. The main crop where I live is potatoes. Last night, a friend was telling me how common it is for people to be unaware that potatoes are the root of the plant. Many are shocked to learn that they don’t grow in bushes above the ground. Now I’ve read your post, and discovered how distorted my own image of bananas was. Thanks for clearing things up. I hope your plants recover.

    • I never thought about bananas until I moved to Florida last year. It is so cool to grow tropical plants outside, You’re not living in the Bronx anymore?

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