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Member Introductions This is the `tell us about yourself` category. Please make an introductory post here, let us know a little about yourself. A perfect place to break the ice.


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Old 01-07-2009, 06:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Greetings to all

I am new to the forum. I live in Calabria, which is the land at the southern toe of Italy in the middle of Mediterranean. Basically my land is the last piece of continental Italy before the island of Sicily to the West and Africa to the South.

Italy is a country which extends in lenght from north to south, experiencing much different climates depending on latitude, altitude, proximity to the sea and to which sea. My area is the one just at one drop from the African shores. Thus, the climate in my area is not at all what one would expect as an average European climate. Instead it is very similar to the climate of Sicily itself, which means that it is in turn similar to areas like California, Greece, Malta and certain areas of North Africa.

As has been already said by other members from Sicily, we have here a peculiar variety of banana, which is referred to by the name of Sicily common Musa. This plant is accustomed to grow and bear fruit in the region, for it was brought here at least 1000 years ago by Arabs. But some oral traditions connect it to the times of ancient Greece. In general this bears testimony to the antiquity of the diffusion of the Musa in the area. It is believed by some Italian experts that this variety of Musa should be considered very close to the Orinoco, and thus, I would add, to California Gold, also given that as I said our climate can be much similar to that of California at least in certain areas.

I am new in the field of cultivating bananas, so at the moment I only have small plants which are not yet in the age to bear fruit. But I will try to add photos of plants taken in my area.

While as I said there is no problem to grow this Musa here on the coast, one could experience some problems while the altitude increases. In fact, while the coast is basically a frost-free area, on the hills it is possible to experience some light frost for around 15 nights every year. This adds some troubles to my work with bananas since my farm is just at 550 metres of altitude. But even here winter is not harsh indeed, in fact prickly pears grow wild up to 600 metres of altitude and up to the same altitude is possible to cultivate citrus in open field (with possible occasional damages only for the lemon or citron). Thus I am trying to cultivate bananas also on the hills, confident that latitude will be helpful and that the pure hair of the hills will contribute. At the same time, I have a small garden on the seaside, and there I planted some bananas because as I said there is no problem to their growth there.

Sorry for the many words, and best wishes to all
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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welcome to the nana org!!!!
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Welcome Kalabrian - your area sounds very interesting and I am sure some members will be interested in your local musa. Great to add another member in another area!
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Very informative, I really enjoyed your introduction. Please tell me more about your Sicilian Common Musa. If you have some photos of them that you can post, even better.

I am always looking for new and rarer forms of bananas from around the world. I believe that by introducing them to our climates, we may find additional ranges for fruiting bananas.

Is the banana seedless, does it produce good tasting fruit, does it produce many pups? These and several other questions come to mind.

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Old 01-07-2009, 09:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hello Kalabrian and welcome to the board

Thanks alot for giving us a detailed run down of your homeland. It is always nice to get an understanding of the different areas as we have members from all over the place. Please keep us on tab about your 'endemic' cultivar. It sounds very interesting with such a history. Hope to hear from you soon.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes, the long introduction was great!

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Old 01-08-2009, 09:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Welcome to the org. Kalabrian. What an interesting introduction, my neighbors grew up on farms in Sicily and garden a lot like me, I'll have to ask them about bananas there.
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Old 01-08-2009, 03:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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welcome to the Org and thank you i enjoyed reading your intro as for your altitude i don't think thats a problem there are many variates that simply must be grown at higher elevation they do poorly at sea level i would love to hear more as see more of your Variety it sounds grate! there are also quite a few bananas that don't mind a bit of frost keep us posted i grown in a Mediterranean type of climate my self here in souther Nevada USA its hot and dry and my elevations are 2500ft to 4000ft here and we defiantly get at least 10 frost a year


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Old 01-09-2009, 05:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Greetings to all,

I thank all of you for the warm welcome and the kind interest.

I am also glad that you appreciated the introduction in spite of its lenght and of my questionable English.

Unfortunately in these days I have been so busy that I did not even have the time to upload few photographs.

The Sicily Musa is very similar to the Orinoco as I said. Thus I think that right now it would be unuseful for any of you to afford the expenses to import one in your area. That's the same reason why I did not buy a Orinoco until now, considering the shipping costs. I would buy it if sure that it's a different variety, I do not want to find myself with the same plant after ordering it from across the ocean. So, what we could try to do is to follow the process of growth (I can upload photos in the future) and then, if we see that there is a significant difference between it and the Orinoco, we can reason about exchanging them.

Bob, can you recall which parts of Sicily they come from?

Damaclese, I am sure that I will not have problems with altitude. It is funny that in a region where there is an endemic variety of Musa on the coast, people have not attempted the cultivation of it in the inner land. This is much more funny when knowing that, if you consider the morphology of the land, you discover that there is not an inner land which is far from the coast more than 30-35 kilometres! In the past, this was due to difficulties in communication. But for the present, the reason is that there is not a general interest for the plant, not even on the coast. Because of the history of the land, which is reach in resources but has always been poor in economy, people now are very pragmatic in managing their recently-won economic facilities. Thus people focus on important crops. Also if on the coast people can have a plant that make fruit, it is not safe and it has never been tried to initiate a commercial venture with bananas, because a business production would need safer conditions and it would be impossible to compete with the over-production of tropical countries. Thus, since agriculture is the main resource on the land, in general very few people are interested in the growth of this plant. Much more this is true for people living on the hills. People (rightly in part) focus on their true activities of growing citrus and olives which make them getting their daily bread.
Anyway I will glad to know which varieties bore you fruit at your altitude.

Have a nice day!
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Apart from all these considerations,

yesterday I went for a quick visit to my banana plant on the coast (30 km from where I live on the hills), also because I still had to pick lemons in the same garden.

Just to give you an idea of the climate there, we are in January and the plant did not have any damage, is very comfortable in the middle of a flowering bouganvillea.

Banano a Gennaio!

It's a young plant, and unfortunately there it only has a slice of soil, so the trunk is quite thin.
But not bad for winter time, yes?

From a single lemon tree I picked around 35 kg of lemons, like here:

Limone, gennaio 09, 35 kg di limoni una sola pianta

Blessings
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:13 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Beautiful picture Kalabrian,thanks for posting. I wish my bananas looked so good outside in the middle of winter. I have one M. Basjoo outdoors tied in hay bales and covered with a tarp. I'll ask my neighbors what part of Sicily they were from when I see them again.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:30 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Hello Kalabrian
Regards from Dalmatia, Croatia.
I live in Makarska and many Italians visits us in the sommer.
Hope to grow some bananas here!
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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love the pics!
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:53 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Welcome, Kalabrian!

I enjoyed your introduction and your photographs!

I happen to grow a prickly pear which came from Sicily (many decades ago) in the suitcase of the old many which owns one of the farms I rent here in California. Here, we grow many different varieties of prickly pear and frost does not seem to harm them every, even down to -8C or so. They seem very hardy. These are just a hobby for me.

I also grow a chestnut from southern Italy (I believe), Marroni di Gavignano. This is a commercial enterprise for me.

And please forget about any apologies for your English. I assure you that it's better than many of us here in the U.S. and certainly better than my Italian!

Ciao,

Harvey
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:25 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Greetings to all dear friends, sorry I did not answered until now, but I have been quite busy in the last days.

Harvey, in response to your friendly comments:
As you said, prickly pear is relatively hardy, in fact here it grows WILDLY even up to 600 m of altitude, and I think in Sicily it can grows wildly even higher. These areas at such altitude, however, do not experience frosts as -8, for rarely they see a -4. On the other hand, even here it can grow beyond these altitudes when cultivated with proper care, especially if positioned near a wall. In any case, it still surprises me to know that they can resist that frosts because I know that they do not grow very easily in north Italy in areas where in fact that same kind of frosts are usual. What's the colour of the fruit, purple or orange?

Since we are in the subject of cactus fruits, let me say that here also apple cactus bear fruit succesfully.

I do not think Gavignano is in the south of Italy, but I am not sure. I think it should be in the centre near Rome.

Let me say that I am particularly interested to know about the kind of Musa which do successfully bear fruits in California, and it is one of the reasons why I joined the forum (not the only one though!). This because, even if your specific area seems to be (from what you said) quite colder than mine during winter, I think in general there is a certain climatic affinity, and from what I realized my region should have a climate very similar to southern California around LA, while the San Diego area could maybe be compared to Sicily. For example in the south of Calabria and in Sicily they are now cultivating mangoes and avocadoes as commercial enterprises, and I know the same happens in Calif. between LA and San Diego.

So I would be glad to know as much information as possible about successful and unsuccessful attempts with bananas in California. For example Cali Gold is a species I would like to try here, but I have not been able to find it until now.

The same kind of interest I have it for Israel, even if in a different sense. But this I will try to explain it in a specific post, because there are things on this matter I would like to discuss with you all.

Blessings
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:40 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Hello again, Kalabrian.

The fruits on my pricky pear are orange and very productive. I only acquired it last in 2007 but the mother plants are ancient and overgrown with most of the fruits out of reach. While on the subject of prickly pear, I saw your mention of an interest in Israel and I have an acquaintance from another discussion group who has grown, among other things, prickly pear on a commercial basis. What other interests do you have with Israel? I've only been there once and it was for religious purposes.

Unfortunately, it seems that many of my bananas have been mislabeled so I am not positive of what I've had that has fruited here. The California Gold is similar in most respects to Dwarf Orinoco though it seems to bear more quickly/earlier. Ice Cream (Blue Java), Raja Puri, Belle, and some others are said to have fruited in our climate and I am experimenting with these as well. Our member "microfarmer" is not far from me and you might send him a message to inquire if he has had others which have fruited. Our member "pitangadiego" is from near San Diego and has grown nearly 100 different varieties.

Best wishes,

Harvey
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:50 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Hey guys, prickly pear must be much hardier than you think. They grow wild along the shoreline in southern NJ and I have a few that receive no care or protection whatsoever and they bear and multiply fairly rapidly. Is there more than one type? it gets down to about 5F (-15 C) at least once a year here. This year colder.
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:27 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Greetings

Maybe I expressed myself in a wrong way: mentioning that I have interests in Israel I did not mean that I have commercial activities there. I only meant that I would be very interested in getting information about success with bananas and other tropical plants in that land, just as I am interested in getting similar information concerning California. This because Israel has a big production of bananas, and so:

1) Even if in general Israel is warmer (and in some areas, as the Negev, even quite warmer) than my region, there are areas which present a climate similar to mine, as for example the hills in Galilea. In the end of the day we are in the same Mediterranean climate and seasonal variations are very similar. Thus, for example, a variety of banana which is used in Israel for commercial purposes must be a variety accustomed to face a winter time, even if a very mild one, and in this it would be different from a strictly tropical variety which sees no winter at all. Moreover, I do not have to grow bananas for commercial reasons, and thus a variety which in Israel satisfies commercial standards, in my region should at least work for personal use.

2) Another reason is that I heard that in Israel they have been able to cultivate bananas in areas which should be even cooler than mine. This I read it in a article of which I am going to attach the link, in order that you all can give me your opinion. The article refers to a farmer in New Zealand but the man says he got his idea of cultivating bananas in NZ after going to Israel and seeing in a kibbutz where bananas were cultivated "on the snow line". Since I read that article, I am still trying to get in contact with some Israeli farmer who could provide me more information on the matter.

That's the link:
Tropical passion rewarded with gardener-of-year title

This was just to explain my reference about "interests in Israel". Of course the religious charisma of that land makes everything more interesting too.

Bob, prickly pears are you usually classified as a 8b-zone plant. Maybe they can grow in a 8a zone if they are near the sea or if they face south or are in some way protected by harsh winds. These conditions happen sometimes on coastal areas. I also know for sure there are different varieties, but I do not think -I could be wrong- hardiness varies so much among them. Here we have, apart from the plants bearing orange fruit, others bearing white ones and other yet bearing purple ones.

Blessings

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Old 01-21-2009, 01:38 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Kalabrian, I'll send you a PM with contact information for Ariel Shai who is a member here. His e-mail address has changed since he registered here so I'll send you his new address. He hasn't grown bananas but says Gran Nain is the primary cultivar of banana grown in Israel.

When I went on pilgrimage to Israel in December 2005 I did not know Ariel but wish I had so that I could have had the time to see more of the agriculture there.
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