The Propagator once again invites gardeners from around the wide world to the table for Six on Saturday. You, too, can join in!
1. Bananas. Was it the improbable height, the generous, ribbed, jewel- bright leaves whose glamor survives wind tatter, the prehistoric flowers? Or perhaps nostalgia for a childhood partially spent in Hawaii? Or was it the delightful discovery that Musa basjoo could grow outside year round in our climate and resultant fantasies of a secluded courtyard, rustling with tropical foliage? Regardless of the contributing factors, I could not and did not resist the opportunity to buy 4 bananas this fall. After much deliberation, they were planted in a barrel and rusted wheel derived I believe from some form of defunct mining equipment. In anticipation of frost, they were shrouded in horticultural fabric. And then, as I imagined that they peacefully slept in their beds, picture my horror and self disgust when I discovered that 2 of my lovely bananas, which had been entrusted to a newly acquired barrell, were drowning in a pool of rainwater! Of course, this disaster had been entirely preventable. Fool that I am, I neglected to consider that wine barrels are designed and constructed to hold liquids. Or perhaps I imagined that the nursery where I had purchased these planters would have drilled drainage holes on my behalf. Folly and foolishness. J was summoned, along with large drill bits, to add drainage holes to the barrell’s base. The putrid water gushed forth. The shroud removed, the 2 bananas that had the misfortune to be planted in a barrell were duly inspected. Their color – not wholly devoid of green. Their texture – rather like the central rib of a bok choi leaf – not without crispness. Two weeks later, the top of one banana was lopped off and a lovely green color greeted the eye. We are cautiously optimistic.
2. Further revisions. I have an unfortunate tendency to acquire plants on impulse and “fit them in” following their arrival home, without adequate planning. The result is that transplants are a frequent occurrance as the unsuitability of the original site becomes evident. Or as the vision develops. In this case, both practical and aesthetic considerations have contributed to a redesign of the area around the house. Currently occupied by a palette of plants fairly similar to that found throughout the perennial beds, concerns about tender specimens that would benefit from the heat of the house in winter have led to a reconceptualization of this area as home to the front garden’s collection of exotic plants. In particular, the Giant Cape Restio, tea tree, and bananas will be moved to the perimeter of the house. This will necessitate moving several plants elsewhere to create space, but it shall be done.
3. Asparagus. Last weekend found me tackling the project of editing the asparagus bed. The bed was originally constructed in spring 2020, based on an embarrassing misunderstanding of instructions found online. It was absurdly lumpy, the crowns were exposed, the plants by and large failed to thrive. So, after further instructions had been duly studied, the strawberries planted alongside the asparagus were moved to new locations underneath the Goji and gooseberry bushes. The asparagus roots were dug up, the many mummified roots were removed. Six new bare root asparagus were obtained. The bed’s questionable soil was tempered with compost. Now they are all planted, with hope and firm resolutions regarding organic fertilizer. We shall see.
4. Garden tools. I inherited classics including the shovel and rakes from a friend. A couple of trowels and a cultivator were acquired from a thrift store. An action hoe was added later. Most recent additions have included the hori hori knife and – best of all – the homi, a gift from my Korean in laws. After conducting initial research into the proper use and handling of this tool, I allowed imagination and necessity to guide me. So far, it has proven invaluable in removing weeds, as it has the capacity to hook and pull roots as well as to cut them. I have also been using the homi to refine shovel-dug holes, as the shape is ideal for carving away hard soil to widen or deepen a planting hole. Plus the priceless assurance from the manufacturer that, “With Youngju homi, you are already the best gardener.”
5. Apple tree. The newest addition to the home orchard. Part of my ongoing campaign to woo J into the garden. In general not a gardening enthusiast, J has a weakness for fruit. I don’t honestly believe that the many fruit trees, vines, and bushes I have planted will spark a new interest in horticulture, but it’s worth a try.
6. Pollination question. So, I featured this fascinating and rather dangerous looking plant (aptly named the Crucifixion Thorn) on a previous Six, remarking on its white winter blossoms. I have recently noted that said blossoms are receiving frequent visits from the local fly population. Are they pollinated by flies?