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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.


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Old 10-25-2008, 12:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Student farm

Last year, a group of students (of which I was one) helped to start a student run farm. Its called SOFT, Student Organic Farm Training, with its goal being to give us hands on farm experience before we graduate. We have a deal with a local market who agreed to buy produce from us when its available, and made our first sale recently, 30lbs of lettuce, not much, but you got to start somewhere!

We have quite a bit of land to work with still, I've put in 5 different bananas so far (Lakatan, Pisang Jari Buaya, Obino l'Ewai, Tango and Pama). I have a bunch more that will hopefully go in soon, and I'm currently growing out about 50 or so Senorita that we can hopefully plant before January.

In addition to bananas, we have lettuce, tomatoes, starfruit, loquat, mountain apple, and papaya on the farm. However, around the edge of the farm, there is a giant row of lychee trees, a giant row of mango trees, about 25 or so different citrus and a bunch of other trees mixed in (jakfruit, longan, chico, miracle berry and many more), which if we want to, can begin to manage and sell the fruit, but so far they have just been the equivalent of a snack bar.

Over the summer, our adviser planted out all these 'Dwarf Brazilian' plants next to our farm, and told they are ours to manage, harvest and sell. I didn't count them, but I think its about 40-50 plants.
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Yo Gabe, great project! Wish I was young enough to be in school to do stuff like this. I guess there's no better way than to learn things hands on. Very nice pix. All the best.
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Old 10-25-2008, 01:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Makes me want to go back to school - in Hawaii!!!!
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Old 10-25-2008, 01:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Gabe, I would think you could do well selling the miracle fruit berries their in Honolulu. Someone sells then in NYC for something like $2/each with a large minimum, focusing on people that host miracle fruit parties with different foods tasted.

I'm hoping to try Senorita also. Have you tasted the fruit? If so, how do you rank it?

Sounds like a nice project - good luck!

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Old 10-25-2008, 02:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Gabe, I would think you could do well selling the miracle fruit berries their in Honolulu. Someone sells then in NYC for something like $2/each with a large minimum, focusing on people that host miracle fruit parties with different foods tasted.

I'm hoping to try Senorita also. Have you tasted the fruit? If so, how do you rank it?
Wow, $2 a piece? We got a whole tree loaded with fruit, and nothing to do with them. I should start trying them with different foods...now that I think about it, I haven't even tried it with any of the 10 or so different sour citrus's right next to it, maybe next time!

I have not tried Senorita yet, but having spoken with a few Filipinos about them around here, I think it would be a welcomed introduction.
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

A book that came out this spring called The Fruit Hunters helped fuel the craze this spring.

See
FlavorTripping with Miracle Fruit - San Francisco, Aug 4th 2008 « Flavor Tripping
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/dining/28flavor.html

Plants that are 3' tall that would sell for $65 a year ago went for over $200 this year and I'm one of those who was crazy enough to buy one, figuring that there wouldn't be large ones like that available again for a few years.
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Old 10-25-2008, 04:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Student farm

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A book that came out this spring called The Fruit Hunters helped fuel the craze this spring.

See
FlavorTripping with Miracle Fruit - San Francisco, Aug 4th 2008 « Flavor Tripping
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/dining/28flavor.html

Plants that are 3' tall that would sell for $65 a year ago went for over $200 this year and I'm one of those who was crazy enough to buy one, figuring that there wouldn't be large ones like that available again for a few years.
What do you feed you Miracle fruit? I have a seedling with two little leafs on it. It has not grown any bigger for a month. The leafs are a dark green and seem thick / stiff. I was told wait until the little pot is filled with roots, then move up to the next size pot. I was told it might take 3 years before I move up to a three gallon pot and a 3 gallon pot will hold a 6+ Miracle fruit tree. I have given the tree Root Ehancer and did not notice any change in plant. I tryied my Favor ArgoFlash 6-6-6 Organic non-burning fert and nothing. I have tried Worm tea and no change. Any advice on Miracle Fruit would be great, it seems to be a big screte.

And yes I seen Miracle fruit berrys sell for 2.50 - 2.65 a berry. You get the cheaper price when you buy more then one package of 10.

Have you ever had this sour candy call War Head's? I want to try a Miracle fruit and a war head!! I was intruduced to this plant when I was visiting a friend at the hospital. I was talking to someone there who was visiting a friend that had kemo done and he said they give her a berry and then she eats like crazy, but with out the berrys she never wanted to eat.
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Old 10-25-2008, 05:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

I've killed two tiny ones and my big one I bought had a setback when I followed the advice of someone to give it full sun. I feed it with Miracid as a friend in Florida reported good results with that for his. Mine is in a greenhouse where humidity is higher as I've been told that is very important. Some people suggest well-drained soil but a nursery in Hawaii (Pahoa) discovered by accident that they do okay even when in standing water.

I've never heard of War Head's. But I have heard of the berry's help with chemo patients and, if my plant every does well, I would plan on talking to a friend who is a hospice nurse to see if she would like to offer it to patients (for free). That in itself would make it worth the $200+ I paid for my plant!
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Old 10-25-2008, 06:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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I've killed two tiny ones and my big one I bought had a setback when I followed the advice of someone to give it full sun. I feed it with Miracid as a friend in Florida reported good results with that for his. Mine is in a greenhouse where humidity is higher as I've been told that is very important. Some people suggest well-drained soil but a nursery in Hawaii (Pahoa) discovered by accident that they do okay even when in standing water.

I've never heard of War Head's. But I have heard of the berry's help with chemo patients and, if my plant every does well, I would plan on talking to a friend who is a hospice nurse to see if she would like to offer it to patients (for free). That in itself would make it worth the $200+ I paid for my plant!

Well I know one person that had chemo and she would say it worked for her. If you can get into a hospital and give these out to people in need, then my friend you are a true saint!
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Old 10-25-2008, 07:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Not yet, but I am work in progress!
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Old 10-25-2008, 10:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

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What do you feed you Miracle fruit? Miracle fruit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Miracle fruit plants are a member of the true Sapote family. They like a nutrient balance similar to Citrus; e.g., an N-P-K of 15-5-10 or some multiple thereof. They also require more Calcium and Magnesium as trace elements in comparison to fruits of northern climates. Since it is a bush, it only needs about 1/8 to 1/4 of what you would feed a tree. If you are not growing it in zone 10 or higher, consider a winterizing fertilizer for the period Oct. through February, and a then a standard subtropical fruit formula for the other months. You'll find standard products found at many stores listed in this growing guide: Subtropicals; and the products I use for sale here: Fertilizers for Subtropical Fruit.

Some interesting background on Miracle Fruit and interference by the Sugar Industry can be found here: Miracle fruit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 10-25-2008, 10:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Wow, this is all pretty neat about Miracle Berry! I knew a little bit about it before, but all these articles are really intriguing.

We have at least one mature plant at our farm, it's got to be around 20-30 years old and as I remember it, beyond the bush stage and more like a tree. And then we have one on campus that we (Horticulture Society) planted last semester...maybe I should go check out that one right now for fruit...
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Old 10-25-2008, 11:01 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Gabe, at a very minimum you should consider growing some plants from the seeds of the berries. I have friends in Hawaii that have never heard of them and I think it could do well at a plant sale some time. Or you could do a farmer's market even where you sell some berries along with some fruits and then offer plants for sale. I would not be surprised if people went wild. Even just selling the berries at a farmer's market there could create quite a draw. Since they are perishable the shipping of them can be a problem so individual sales at a farmer's market could be a great way to expose more people to them. I also wonder what kind of fun I could have had them at parties in my college days.

Richard, I've read that article about the conspiracy of the sugar industry before and it seems contrived. We like our sweets in convenient and cheap forms way too much for the miracle fruit berry to ever become big competition. It's very fun to read, though!
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Old 10-25-2008, 11:38 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Great picture Gabe and great project, sounds like a good time.

RE: miracle fruit - I grow it as well and whenever I have a guest come over and I have fruits, I don't let them leave without trying it out!
My favorite combination so far is a fruit with a glass or two of pineapple juice!
Worm_Farmer you have a long wait ahead of you! I have heard this plant takes 7 years to set fruit.
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:17 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Gabe,

Just a question, as you are more advanced in this than I.....

Why did you plant in tradition rows, rather than what might have been better use of the bananas rooting strength and plant in a hexagonal pattern and allow for unform root growth around each plant. I would imagine that any pups produced would be stronger and less crowded from the neighboring plants?

Thanks,
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Old 10-26-2008, 03:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Jarred, I've heard from other friends in FLorida have had it fruit in 3-4 years. Mine produced a single fruit a couplle of months ago and I brought it inside and set it on the counter, joking that it was a $200 fruit. I came back to try it about an hour later and it was gone and nobody knew what it was. I think my dog must have ate it! LOL
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Old 10-26-2008, 04:24 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Gabe,

Just a question, as you are more advanced in this than I.....

Why did you plant in tradition rows, rather than what might have been better use of the bananas rooting strength and plant in a hexagonal pattern and allow for unform root growth around each plant. I would imagine that any pups produced would be stronger and less crowded from the neighboring plants?
I'm glad you brought this up, because plant spacing is actually a rather complex issue and not commonly a subject on our forum.

First off, I didn't plant these. They were planted by our adviser over the summer and given to the student group to manage. However, if I had planted them (and I am planting more at our farm), I would still have done the traditional rows. There are many advantages to having them in a row, especially in a commercial situation (which also takes into consideration some economic issues which are not issues for us). For us, we can easily run the irrigation lines on all the plants, allow easy access for vehicles to go between them (such as the large field mowers or other equipment), and as is inherent of using rows we have easy access to all of the plants. A hexagonal system might be useful somewhere, but for us, since we really aren't even growing that many plants, normal rows are easier. Also, we are not a banana farm, we are a farm with bananas, so we don't want to take up a huge area of our farm with a more complex planting system.

What your describing to me seems to basically be an aspect of any field planting, which is the spacing between each plant. This can vary from almost 20ft apart in some systems to 4ft apart in others. Spacing however is dependent on a few different things, such as the variety grown (some varieties take up more room than others), soil fertility, water availability and the need for access to the plants (on commercial farms they also allow for more room to prevent the fruit from being bruised by neighboring leaves and workers, so it is generally a little bit wider than is needed for healthy plants). The closer the plants are together, the more they are competing for the same nutrients, this could be an issue and affect how close you want your plants in a commercial setting, but since we have access to all of the water and fertilizer we need, competition between each plant shouldn't be an issue and they will have plenty of strength and not interfere with each other. If maximizing the space between each plant was needed, I would first opt for a square grid planting (such as 10ft between each plant in a row with rows 10ft apart). Also, the closer you plant them together, the more dense of a canopy you will develop to suppress weeds, which is a great benefit if your goal is to reduce nutrient competition in your field.

And as for crowding, this is a farm, not plants growing out in the wild, and we manage them. We will remove pups as needed and make sure they don't form huge mats that encroach on each other. If we were to let them grow out fully, we may see a loss in gross yield, but then again, we don't really care because we are just a student farm, not a commercial grower trying to maximize production with every trick in the book. Each grower has a specific need for their plants, if you need them to produce huge bunches you will adjust your planting system accordingly, but if you need them to be easy to manage and require little work to be put into them then you will too adjust your planting system according.
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Gabe, you might want to consider a "diamond" pattern when you plant your additional bananas, a common practice in commercia orchards. The plants in the adjoining rows are at the midpoint between plants the beginning row and so forth. You can still go 10 x 10 if you want or you can have plants slightly altered to get the desired spacing you want. Planting in a square pattern is not ideal for weed supression or light utilization.

Good luck,

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Old 10-26-2008, 08:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Student farm

Harvey,
thanks for providing the correct terminology for spacing. the 'diamond' pattern is what I was referring to and some of the issues that Gabe broght up are either supportive of it or do not interfere, such as irrigation.

A study to compare productivity of different spacing might be of some benefit, I would think....

(gosh, I love stats!)
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