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Old 05-03-2012, 05:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Hi all, from Alberta, Canada.

My wife and I recently bought a house with an atrium - semi circular - 18' diameter - 16' high and about 75% glass (windows) and part of the house, with in-floor heat, so warm year 'round.

There are a variety of plants on shelving by the windows, but i'd like a focal point plant in the center. I can't imagine anything better than a banana plant and as a bonus - if I can manually pollinate - in a few years, our grandchildren (we have lots) would go bananas over the fruit.

I've been bouncing around for a few days - agristarts - going bananas - and a few others and I suspect you know where that's led me. :

I did a search here, but I'm getting overwhelming results and I was hoping someone here could help me get this moving forward. From my reading on agristarts, it sounds like a blue java would fit the room nicely and has (is it true?) the tastiest fruit.

Really appreciate any guidance you can offer - as well as the opportunity to share your community.

Rob!
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Here's some good news for you: no need to pollinate, edible bananas are self-fertile.

Welcome aboard
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Thanks. You are the second to point that out. :-) Seems I need to separate the wheat from the the chaff so to speak. Even my wife says I am trainable. :-)
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

As for the choice of banana, I haven't tried Blue Java (aka Ice Cream), but many folks think it's one of the contenders for best flavor.

Here's a list of some of the contenders:

Blue Java/Ice Cream
Manzano/Apple
Dwarf Namwah
SH3640
Gros Michel
Mysore


If you're looking for a centerpiece, then perhaps the Gros Michel would serve two purposes in that regard: not only would it physically make a great centerpiece, but it would be a conversational centerpiece, too, due to its backstory. [It was the standard commercial banana up till the early 60's, when it almost went extinct and had to be replaced by the comparatively lower quality Cavendish bananas that have dominated grocery store shelves ever since.]
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

You can tell people you're helping to prevent the extinction of Gros Michel and share an interesting story with them. Here's an excerpt from a good article in Popular Science:

Quote:
After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

A wild scenario? Not when you consider that there's already been one banana apocalypse. Until the early 1960s, American cereal bowls and ice cream dishes were filled with the Gros Michel, a banana that was larger and, by all accounts, tastier than the fruit we now eat. Like the Cavendish, the Gros Michel, or "Big Mike," accounted for nearly all the sales of sweet bananas in the Americas and Europe. But starting in the early part of the last century, a fungus called Panama disease began infecting the Big Mike harvest. The malady, which attacks the leaves, is in the same category as Dutch Elm disease. It appeared first in Suriname, then plowed through the Car- ibbean, finally reaching Honduras in the 1920s. (The country was then the world's largest banana producer; today it ranks third, behind Ecuador and Costa Rica.)

Growers adopted a frenzied strategy of shifting crops to unused land, maintaining the supply of bananas to the public but at great financial and environmental expense-the tactic destroyed millions of acres of rainforest. By 1960, the major importers were nearly bankrupt, and the future of the fruit was in jeopardy. (Some of the shortages during that time entered the fabric of popular culture; the 1923 musical hit "Yes! We Have No Bananas" is said to have been written after songwriters Frank Silver and Irving Cohn were denied in an attempt to purchase their favorite fruit by a syntactically colorful, out-of-stock neighborhood grocer.) U.S. banana executives were hesitant to recognize the crisis facing the Gros Michel, according to John Soluri, a history professor at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Banana Cultures, an upcoming book on the fruit. "Many of them waited until the last minute."

Once a little-known species, the Cavendish was eventually accepted as Big Mike's replacement after billions of dollars in infrastructure changes were made to accommodate different growing and ripening needs. Its advantage was its resistance to Panama disease. But in 1992, a new strain of the fungus-one that can affect the Cavendish-was discovered in Asia. Since then, Panama disease Race 4 has wiped out plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan, and it is now spreading through much of Southeast Asia. It has yet to hit Africa or Latin America, but most experts agree that it is coming. "Given today's modes of travel, there's almost no doubt that it will hit the major Cavendish crops," says Randy Ploetz, the University of Florida plant pathologist who identified the first Sumatran samples of the fungus.
Gros Michel is also probably the most beautiful edible banana I've seen so far.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Wow! Any idea where I can get me one of those?

I could build that up with a dark fog of destruction that would have the grandkids twitchin'!

(followed by banana splits)

Rob!

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Old 05-03-2012, 11:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Quote:
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Wow! Any idea where I can get me one of those?
They've been virtually impossible for anyone in the US/Canada to get for many years....until just a couple of months ago when a wholesale supplier named AgriStarts started making clones of them from a plant they got from the US Department of Agriculture. It has been verified as actual Gros Michel by our online banana identification expert (Gabe) as well as by the USDA itself.

A member of this forum named Chance1945 has bought some trays of baby Gros Michel plants from AgriStarts and is selling them at a great price to members. He has a thread about it here: TC Gros Michel

If you want to order one from him, just click on the "SendPM" button in the bottom-right of any of his posts, and send him a private message about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbertaRob View Post
I could build that up with a dark fog of destruction that would have the grandkids twitchin'!

(followed by banana splits)

Rob!
That would be awesome!
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

You can get them from some of the members here, or there are plenty of good online nurseries to choose from. Whatever you do, STAY AWAY from TyTy and Willis Orchards...

Also, I have a Mysore, and it's a beautiful plant with nice bronze and red coloration. Also makes very tasty fruit I can't wait for a bloom!
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Thanks Caliboy 1994

I suspect the atrium will only hold one big plant, so I'll have to choose carefully, though I may start with two to mitigate risks. We have lots of single story space for others, but anything really tall will have to be a single. Sounds like you have a very cool treasure there.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

A word of caution about Gros Michel: it's a relatively tall plant. I think it fruits at around 12' (meaning that the pseudo-stem, i.e. the trunk, would be about 12' but the leaves could reach up to 20' tall).

One alternative would be to find a dwarf form of Gros Michel. There are varieties of Dwarf Gros Michel that only get about 2/3 that tall but that are reported to taste the same. Unfortunately, I don't know where you can get one.

Another alternative would be to get the Gros Michel, but to whack it down to a 2' stub when its p-stem gets up to 8 feet or so. If you're lucky, you'll time it so that it will have time to put out at least 8 or 10 more leaves before it fruits (once a banana plant fruits, it won't push out any new leaves, and it's recommended that a plant should have 8-10 leaves on it when it flowers so that it can generate enough energy to make good bananas). Even if you're lucky with the timing you should still expect smaller bunches with smaller individual bananas using this method. If you're not lucky in your timing, the plant will fruit too soon after the whacking and won't produce worthwhile fruit.

A third alternative would be to get a different type of banana plant that is a bit smaller. Of the contenders listed above, most are pretty tall, but the Dwarf Namwah would probably fit perfectly. It should fruit when its p-stem is in the 7-9' range, so its leaves shouldn't quite reach to your 16' ceiling (maybe 2' of leeway between leaves and ceiling?). I think I've read that its fruit is similar to that of Blue Java.

Will you be growing in a potting container on a finished floor, or is the floor bare earth with heating elements under the dirt?
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Last edited by GreenFin : 05-03-2012 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Floor is finished and carpeted - so in a potting container. Recommendations? Can't believe the support offered here. Incredible.

Thanks
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:04 AM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Before I head to bed, here's a helpful reference list of p-stem heights at maturity that was originally posted by a knowledgeable member named Richard (I highlighted some of the relevant notables; btw, Cocos is one of the dwarf varieties of Gros Michel):

Quote:
NAME SUBTROPIC_HEIGHT_FEET
Truly Tiny 1.5
Red Jewel 3.0
Super Dwarf Cavendish 3.0
High Color Mini 4.0
Mauritius 4.0
Dwarf Cavendish 5.0
Dwarf French 5.0
California Gold 6.0
Dwarf Orinoco 6.5
Dwarf Gros Michel 7.0
Dwarf Namwa 7.0
Dwarf Nino 7.0
Dwarf Puerto Rican 7.0
Dwarf Red 7.0
Dwarf White Iholena 7.0
Gran Nain 7.0
Misi Luki of Samoa 7.0
Mona Lisa 7.0
Rajapuri 7.0
Rose 7.0
Sumatrana X Gran Nain 7.0
Texas Star 7.0
Walha 7.0
Zan Moreno 7.0
Kofi 7.5
1000 Fingers 8.0
Berangan 8.0
Double 8.0
Dwarf Brazilian 8.0
Dwarf Colorado Blanco 8.0
Enano Gigante 8.0
Kalela 8.0
Latundan 8.0
Mahoi 8.0
Masak 8.0
Nangka 8.0
Safet Velchi 8.0
Tango 8.0
Sweetheart 8.5
Banane Corne 9.0
Cavendish (banana) 9.0
Kumunaba 9.0
San Jose 9.0
Williams Hybrid 9.0
African Rhino Horn 9.5
Pisang Klutuk 9.5
Black French 10.0
Cardaba 10.0
Chini Champa 10.0
Cocos 10.0
Lacatan, Jamaican 10.0
Nino 10.0
SH-3640 10.0
Tuu Gia 10.0
Viente Cohol 10.0
1780 hybrid 11.0
Ebun Musak 11.0
French Horn 11.0
Golden Aromatic 11.0
Golden Pillow 11.0
Goldfinger 11.0
Hua Moa 11.0
Kru 11.0
Monthan 11.0
Nehumbahoka 11.0
Pitogo 11.0
Popoulu kaia 11.0
Sarttra 11.0
Balongkaue 12.0
Enano Nautia 12.0
FHIA-21 Plantain 12.0
FHIA-23 12.0
Giant Cavendish 12.0
Golden Beauty 12.0
Ice Cream 12.0
Ma'ia Maoli 12.0
Manzano 12.0
Maqueno 12.0
Namwa 12.0
Rasthali 12.0
Super Plantain 12.0
Valery 12.0
FHIA-17 13.0
Gros Michel 13.0
Pelipita 13.0
Praying Hands 13.0
Red Iholene 13.0
Cuban Red 14.0
Green Red 14.0
Pace 14.0
Lady Finger 14.5
Iholena 15.0
Jamaican Red 15.0
Lakatan, Philippine 15.0
Mysore 15.0
Pisang Ceylon 15.0
Pisang Masak Hijau 15.0
White Iholena 15.0
Belle 16.0
Giant Plantain 16.0
Kaulau 16.0
Orinoco 16.0
Ele Ele 17.0
Kandrian 17.0
Tall Red 17.0
Ae Ae 18.0
Brazilian 18.0
Manaiula 19.0
Monkey Fingers 19.0
Colorado Blanco 20.0
Saba 21.0
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Also, remember since that you're growing them in pots, they will be a lot shorter. It's also more difficult to get them to fruit in pots, and the fruit will be much smaller, but I'd say it's worth it
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:24 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

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Originally Posted by AlbertaRob View Post
Floor is finished and carpeted - so in a potting container. Recommendations? Can't believe the support offered here. Incredible.

Thanks
On the bright side, banana plants don't get as big when grown in containers. The down side is threefold: they're up off the ground so you automatically lose one or two feet of available vertical grow space, the plant will take longer to reach the fruiting stage, and the fruit bunch will tend to be smaller with lower quality fruit. (I've never grown one in a container, I'm just recounting what I've read.)

Regarding the container, note that horizontal space is even more important than depth, since bananas have grass-like roots that run pretty shallow. I think people often recommend the 30-40 gallon sized containers, or if possible, something like 3' diameter and maybe 1.5' deep (which, if my math's right, would be around 80 gallons). Basically the bigger the container, the bigger and better your fruit bunch will be.

There are a number of threads on here discussing container growing, recommended sizing, and ideas for what things would make good containers. If you click on the "Search" button in the blue bar near the top of the page and do a search for the word container, it should call up a list of good threads on the subject. (It's amazing how much great info is archived in this forum. That search function has been a gold mine for me.)



Oh yeah, and I forgot there's a sub-forum for growing bananas in containers. Lots of good threads in there.
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

As an aside - in grade 10 - (about 45 years ago) - our geography class was studying the effects of geography on commerce. Our group's assignment was to identify challenges associated with producing bananas commercially on the mattahorn. One of only a few of my high school teachers that managed to make dull material iinteresting. :-)

Climate - photoperiodicity - energy supply - transportation to market - soil quality.....

While it isn't commercial, this exercise isn't all that different. Hope I can pull off and "A"
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:38 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbertaRob View Post
Thanks Caliboy 1994

I suspect the atrium will only hold one big plant, so I'll have to choose carefully, though I may start with two to mitigate risks. We have lots of single story space for others, but anything really tall will have to be a single. Sounds like you have a very cool treasure there.
If you can only grow 1, I recommend Dwarf Namwa. By the way, any of the bananas you're considering will need a 36-inch tree box for good fruit results.

Alberta is one of my vacation grounds. Where abouts are you located?
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:13 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Quote:
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If you can only grow 1, I recommend Dwarf Namwa. By the way, any of the bananas you're considering will need a 36-inch tree box for good fruit results.

Alberta is one of my vacation grounds. Where abouts are you located?
Thanks Richard

That's the second vote for dwarf Namwa I think. I hope I don't regret it, but I've ordered a tissue culture Gros Michel - in large part because I love the history - and in part because I remember bananas on my cereal tasting better when I was a kid - and it would be cool to share that with my kids and grandkids.

Hopefully, with reduced height growing in a container, I won't have to add a third story to the atrium. I'm planning on starting with a whiskey barrel planter and upsizing from that when I find whatever calls to me.

We're about 1 1/2 hrs NW of Calgary if that works as a reference point. I should go back and try that map pin again. Thanks for the reminder.

Rob!
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Old 05-05-2012, 12:05 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

Will you be adding any other types of tropical or subtropical fruit? Maybe some condo mangoes or figs?
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:18 PM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

My own bananas don't grow very well until the temperature reaches about 90F, and they don't seem to grow at all below 80. I'm assuming this atrium won't be incredibly warm. Do some bananas grow better at moderate temperatures?

Good luck with the atrium; it sounds spectacular!


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Old 05-05-2012, 04:38 PM   #20 (permalink)
<div style="font-style: italic;">&lt;div style=&quot;font-style: italic;&quot;&gt;&amp;lt;div style=&amp;quot;font-style: italic;&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt; div style=&amp;amp;quot;font-style: italic;&amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt; Plant alchemist&amp;
 
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Default Re: 10 months of winter - 2 months poor sleddin'

My bananas grow in the 70s and 80s just fine here in California.
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