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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 01-25-2019, 10:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Hello everyone,
I am new to this group but have had a couple of bananas for a number of years as attractions for the school kids who come here on field trips. We are in the process of turning the entire operation over to a perpetual charitable organization as there is no educational facility here in Washington, D.C. to educate children about the importance of plants to our life here on earth. (We are in suburban Northern Virginia, surrounded by housing – the last large piece of undeveloped land near Dulles International Airport – some 400 odd acres of family farm). Education is critical for future leaders – too many current ones appear to have detached themselves from their roots in the land – and we believe that by providing fun, challenging and, at times, astonishing experiences in nature that these kids will view nature and the environment they live in differently. Bananas are plants which get big “Wows”, along with the various Colocasia/Alocasia/xanthosomas and their huge leaves. Last year we had almost 40,000 children visit, feeding bamboo to the goats and sheep we let them interact with, taking hay rides, wandering trough a large bamboo maze (we also provide spring shoots to the pandas at the National Zoo) and generally having a fun time in the open air.
With so much competition from TV and the smart phone, we are hoping that the WOW! Factor of bananas and the Colocasia/Alocasia will help kids focus on something real. The U.S. Botanic Garden and the National Arboretum have been generous contributors of plant material, but bananas and the Aroids are not part of their focus, so we are always on the lookout for additional donations. The South Riding Community Garden Club is part of the education program and is a 501(c)3 charitable organization (and is a part of the Amazon Smile program where Amazon donates a percentage of what they sell to our supporters) and we are applying for 501(c)3 status for the gardens which we are building for the children’s educational facility. The garden club has been very successful in getting parents with their kids into growing things with some 250 people participating.
We have lots of Colocasia esculenta (Elephant ears), (with hopefully other varieties this year if weather cooperates) and many cacti for trade or donation to other charitable organizations. And as newbies in the banana world, I am sure we will have lots of questions. Luckily a neighbor comes from Mexico where he had a banana plantation, so knows something about growing them – in fact brought us our first one! What we are looking for are plants that make kids go Wow1 – size, color, leaf size, etc. The bigger or more unusual the better for our purposes, with taste (or even no fruit) not relevant – kids look for color and size, though if we could get some to flower that would be great – and with a greenhouse for farm crops, we might be able to do that with some practice – at least for one or two as we do not have a lot of spare space. We have one Musa basjoo which has done well, but not sure of what variety it might be as we have seen others called basjoo which look different. We have a very good root cellar where we store the one banana we have (or better say, its corms). Temp gets to low 40’s but the corms have done well for a number of years – and now have maybe 15, some of which we pot up in March, the rest we simply put out in May and let them do their thing – at end of season we will have 8-12 foot plants with plenty of great leaves.
Any suggestions as to names we should be getting would be welcome, and of course any “pups”. We are also curious as to how best to over winter plants other than in a root cellar as corms. As we have limited room in the greenhouse, is there a way of keeping them without lots of room? Just saw a picture relating to choking re Orinoco – and it showed leafless stems which had just been planted – they were pretty tall, like 4 to 6 feet, so wonder where they had been stored or how they had been stored. As an educational facility doing a good deal of research on various plants (we were the first commercial grower in the USA of the plant which now provides the main Malaria drug worldwide -Artemisia annua), we should be able to get germplasm from GRIN and other facilities – but generally that is very small, not to mention we have no idea of what would be best for our purposes (stimulate an interest in plants and the environment).
Long post, but hopefully we can learn something – and get help as we grow more.
Peter
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Many thanks! Looking forward to learning LOTS!
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Still learning how to post and say Thank you to all who have welcomed us. Forgive the newbie :-)
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to the banana gang!......
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Old 01-29-2019, 07:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Smile Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Welcome to the jungle....

Sounds like some wonderful things are happening in Virginia

Have fun here.

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Old 01-29-2019, 12:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Just saw a picture relating to choking re Orinoco – and it showed leafless stems which had just been planted – they were pretty tall, like 4 to 6 feet, so wonder where they had been stored or how they had been stored.

If you mean this pic they are stored bare root in a leaned over pile in my basement. Not all make it through the winter, I usually lose a few smaller pup's.



I also grow some Elephant Ears

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Old 01-29-2019, 05:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Mike,
Fascinating! We let frost knock them down or simply cut them down to the corm (6" handle generally) and store that in our root cellar (46 degrees and very high - 60-80% humidity), pot up some around now, rest go in ground when warm up. None flower, but grow wonderfully.
Do yours flower? Do they continue to grow normally once you plant them out? How many roots do you leave on them (size of root ball (if any)?
The Colocasia is great - do you have a name? The leaf is much wider than ours which is an esculenta (we also have a fontenesii which has a purplish leaf and a bit smaller than the esculenta at about 5 feet. And trying out a Thai giant, hopefuulyn to really grow big, but even those leaves seem to be narrow like the esculenta.
Many thanks,
Peter
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Old 01-29-2019, 06:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Here's what the Banana Plants look like before going to the low light 60º F basement for the winter, the rest of the leaves will be cut off.



The leaf is from a Thai Giant, I started my Thai Giant's from seed. I see bulbs for sale but the Thai Giant does not have bulbs like other Colocasia's. Here's a pic of a Thai Giant tuber, seeds and flowers.





Last edited by Iowa : 01-31-2019 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 01-29-2019, 06:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

how well do your thai giants like water? can they near float in it? looking for something that really likes water.
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Old 01-29-2019, 07:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by beam2050 View Post
how well do your thai giants like water? can they near float in it? looking for something that really likes water.
They love water, they get watered morning and evening.
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Old 01-29-2019, 07:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

How long to get a plant to flower from seed? And how to know the seed is really Thai Giant? We have had many flowers on the esculenta (hundreds in fact), but never a seed we have been able to identify.

All of our colocasias and Alocasias love water, but also good drainage - I say that based on planting them in a bog garden where they have constant water. The bog garden plants did not do as well as those planted in a raised bed, watered daily, or in another raised bed (16" or so) above a swampy area.
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Old 01-29-2019, 08:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

I think they started flowering mid summer, The flowers on my Esculenta's are yellow the Thai Giant flowers are white, they look like a Peace Lily. The flower drops the pollen into the section below, it then seals shut and grows. Mine have never burst open as they should when ripe, probably do to my short season for it. Sometimes I get viable seeds and sometimes not.




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Old 01-31-2019, 07:03 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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All,
We are in the process of putting together our collection for this year which we will be working with as an exhibit for school children and their education. We are looking for advice on what you all think might be the best from an interest point of view.
We want to have as tall a plant as possible, names??
the most colorful leaves, names?
anything "funky" or unusual, names?
earliest to bear? names
suggestion for anything else worthy - names?
Strange fruit - names (e.g. rhino horn) - (even if long to bear, we will grow on in a greenhouse)
We are looking at the following,
African Rhino Musa hybr.
Common - Dwarf Musa hybr.
Tall Superplantain Musa hybr.
Antigua Finger Rose
Dwarf Orinoco
French-type Dominican Red
Many thanks!
Peter
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Welcome aboard the Banana Express.
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Old 02-19-2019, 01:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: New banana garden for children (and adults :-)

Great article on metasequoia - we have a few hundred of that family, bald cypress, metasequoia, both west coast sequoias (not happy in Virginia) and kids love to touch the knees for good luck - We can have a banana stand next to them - eating a banana I bet brings more luck than the knees!
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