Garden Diary -November 2014

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Winterizing My Banana

Musa basjoo, fiber banana, is native to southern Japan. It has lush tropical leaves, occasionally flowers, even makes some little bananas (but they are not good to eat.) Yes, my banana is winter hardy. It lives outdoors, planted in the ground, year-round. But it needs some help to do so. "Hardy" is a relative term.

Firstly, it is planted adjacent to the house, where a modicum of warmth filters through the foundation to keep the ground from freezing as hard and as deeply as a more exposed situation. This picture was taken at the very end of October and my banana is looking a little tired.

Just a few days later, 4 November to be precise, strong winds have somewhat shredded the leaves. Time to winterize.

First step is to cut down the culms, to about knee high.

Easy enough to do with a little hand saw. Bananas are, after all, herbaceous.

. . . . .

Moth balls are next. Voles will enthusiastically tunnel in the well mulched, barely frozen soil. And eat the thickened underground rhizomes. Th moth balls keep them away. Next, tub the cut back culms and stuff the tubs full of dry oak leaves. Wet leaves will freeze, not good. Don't pack them down - air is a good insulator, caught between the leaves.

Something new this year - Paul made a shed style roof for the area from a sheet of outdoor plywood. It is cut into three pieces, each 48 inches by 32 inches. A fourth piece of scrap plywood fills the small gap at the deck end of the area. Each section is attached to the house with a pair of hinges. He drilled out the hinge pins and replaced them with large nails, bent to 90 degrees at the head end. This way, in Spring we can pull the nails and easily remove the plywood sections. There's an astragal between each pair, to cover the small gap between them. For looks, mostly (after all, this is outdoor plywood), I first primed and then painted the plywood with outdoor house paint.

Then the space unter the roof must also be stuffed with leaves. I quickly discovered a revision for next Spring. Cut the plywood in half, parallel to the house, using a piano hinge to join the sections. It will make it much easier to fill the space with leaves.

UPDATE: Friday, 14 November

Good timing! Just two days after I finished winterizing the banana, pounding in posts, attaching fencing and lining the perimeter with plastic sheeting - it snowed! Just see how nicely my banana is snugged up for the winter. Good job!

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