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Our first banana bud.  Keep your fingers crossed for some bananas!Well folks, here it is. Our first sign of potential bananas. This bud showed up around May 1, 2001 and in this picture is about the size of a fat ear of corn. This "bud" is made up of layers of leaves separating small, developing bunches of bananas, each with what appears to be a flower on its tip. (thereby blowing my theory of how bananas form, see 3rd picture below)

I'll keep taking pictures and posting regular updates on this page so check back often!

It has grown this much in just a few days.The bud is now growing nicely. I do believe it grew 3" in the last 24 hours. It looks like it has a good strong stalk (so it can hold a lot of bananas?) and seems very happy. I wonder if we will have to prop it up when it gets larger. Anyone with any experience with growing bananas who can give us some pointers, please e-mail me. I want to maximize the possibility of actually producing bananas.

The little bananas are beginning to showNow you can see the leaves on the bud starting to pull away to reveal the tiny bananas inside. Each little banana has what appears to be the start of a flower on its tip. I'll tell you, this is a real learning experience for me. I've never seen bananas develop, though I have seen ripe bunches on plants. It will be interesting to see what happens as it matures. I wonder if each individual banana and its apparent flower tip needs to be fertilized from another part of the plant (much like corn or tomatos)? I hope to find out soon!

The bananas are getting bigger.You can now see a good sized bunch of bananas starting to gain some size, pushing the covering leaf up and out of the way. Eventually the leaf will roll itself up and out of the way. The bananas still have what appears to be the beginnings of a flower on their tips. I'm not sure of its purpose and wonder if it will need pollinating from another part of the stalk (like corn) in order to ripen. I guess we'll find out.

Now we're talkin' bananas!Now we're talking Bananas!. We've got at least 4 good looking bunches of bananas and as the bananas get larger and push their way out from under the leaves the flowers at their tips get more pronounced. We've been watering faithfully and misting from time to time to keep the humidity up in the hopes they will feel more tropical (hard to do at 9000'). I'm getting more hopeful by the day but even if it doesn't work out, it is fun watching them develop.

Now the bird is getting interestedNow the bananas are getting big enough to get the bird interested. She's eagerly awaiting the first ripe one in the hopes that she'll get her share of it. She's probably right!

Living room view morning shower

May 31, 2001

On the left is a view past the developing bananas into our living room. Yes, they are really growing in the house. The 2-story greenhouse where they are growing is the focal point of the house and the happy banana plant is a sure sign that it works as intended, keeping a stable comfortable environment in the house all year 'round.

On the right is a picture of the bananas after their morning shower, they're getting pampered with a misting every other day and fresh rainwater on their roots whenever it's needed.

More bananas appearing! Banana flowers emerging!

June 11, 2001

Both of these pictures give you a good idea of how the bananas appear and develop. The first "hand" (which is what a bunch of bananas is called) or two came out with some well-developed bananas already evident. Subsequent "hands", however, are coming out as mostly flowers as they emerge from under the leaves. At the base of each flower is a tiny green banana that will take its time developing.

Maggie managed to find a guy in Hawaii who was a banana expert and he said to be patient, they will stay green for what seems like forever and then ripen in stages, beginning with the topmost "hand". Once the first couple of hands start to ripen he said to cut off the stalk and hang it to ripen, leaving it on the plant will make it ripen too fast. This way we'll have fresh organic bananas every day for quite a while.

I'm getting hungry, it's been six weeks already! But we'll probably have to wait at least another month before we can eat them.

It's getting longer with lots of flowers.Here's the latest picture as of the third week of July. As you can see they are taking their time ripening, which is what we were told would happen. For some reason there seems to be an abundance of flower growth along the stalk with very little development of bananas at the base of the flowers. So far the only developed "hands" we have are the ones we had originally. Some of the upper groups of flowers seem to be developing small bananas at their bases but not terribly fast. Ah well, time will be the determinant here. I keep telling myself "be patient, be patient" until it has become a mantra.

They are starting to grow again!Well we took the suggestion of a gardener we met in Hawaii and cut off the stalk of flowers that was growing below these bananas. They never seemed to be getting any bigger, just longer and with more flowers so it was probably taking energy from the rest of the plant. Now, as winter approaches and the sun in the greenhouse is getting stronger and shining on the banana for most of the day, the bananas are once again starting to grow. It really looks like they are getting not only bigger but plumper as well.

I'm starting to feel hope again that we might actually have bananas to eat with our friends.

They're getting bigger and more banana-like all the time.The bananas are starting to get some definition, smaller ends and fatter middles, and getting fatter and fatter all the time. I have hopes that we'll have Christmas bananas this year. I promise I plan on putting lights and tinsel on them in a couple of weeks (unless they are starting to look edible).

Our Banana Christmas Tree!Here is our Christmas Banana! All decorated for the holiday and feeling quite cheerful and merry. The bananas are getting fatter, albeit slowly, and they may also be getting a teensy bit lighter shade of green (not yellow...yet) and we thought they deserved to be the centerpiece of our holiday decorations. Here's hoping that in keeping with the giving spirit of the season they decide to give of themselves and ripen up in January. Now that would be a nice New Year's present for the household.

May you all experience the joy of the holidays and work together to bring Peace and common sense into a world that sorely needs it.

They're starting to ripen!The bananas are starting to ripen. Maggie and I promised ourselves that we'd leave the decorations on the banana until it ripened and it has rewarded us! As of January 5th this one banana started to ripen. It is getting noticeably riper each day. This picture was taken the morning of the 7th since that was when it was bright enough yellow to actually show up (it started as a small spot of yellow, too hard to see in a picture at first).

Needless to say, both parents are pleased as punch and can't wait for the little devils to get nice and ripe so we can eat 'em up! We're planning a banana party as soon as they are edible.

The ripening is spreading!They're getting riper by the day! This picture was taken on January 10th and as you can see more of the bananas are ripening. The first one isn't to the eating stage yet but I suspect it won't be long now. Once bananas start to ripen they all ripen pretty fast (which will be perfect for the party). This is getting to be fun and every morning we come downstairs to check out how many more are starting to turn yellow and how much closer they are to being ready to eat!

Once the bananas are ripe and we devour them the stalk of the plant will be cut down. We will, of course, use the appropriate amount of ceremony and profound thanks for a plant that has given us so much entertainment and pleasure over the last couple of years. Once that plant is removed (it can only produce bananas once and then it dies anyway, we just don't want that much rotting plant matter in the greenhouse so we'll cut it instead) the other, smaller, plants now growing up around the base will be able to mature and do their thing, which hopefully means producing lots of juicy bananas!

They're ripening fast now!This picture was taken on January 12th and you can see how rapidly they are now ripening. We may even get to eat the first ripe one before we leave tomorrow. I suspect there will be some ready to eat when we get back on Tuesday (if our housesitter doesn't eat any...). Looks like a banana party may be in order next weekend!

We ate our first banana today, the one that started ripening first. Man, was it delicious! Super sweet and warm from the sun. It made me realize that the saga of the bananas is almost over. They are ripening so fast that we may have to cut off the stalk (which slows the ripening process) just to get them to last until the weekend. It has been a lot of fun growing bananas during a Colorado winter in our greenhouse space and I hope that the next plants that grow up to take the place of this one will produce equally delicious bananas in the future. I'll post more pictures of our harvesting process and the ceremonial cutting of the main stalk when it happens, most likely within the next few days when we get back from New Mexico.

They're ripening fast now!As you can see the ripening is coming along quite nicely now. We've been eating bananas every day, fresh and warm from the tree. It is a rather nice treat. This picture was taken on January 19th and as you can tell by the empty spaces we've eaten about a dozen bananas by now. (you are counting, right?) At this rate I suspect we have about a week of banana eating left before they become just another fond memory.

It's been peeled!Here's what they look like peeled. They are so sweet and juicy I'll never be able to eat a store bought banana again, even organic ones, there's just no comparison. The skin is so thin and tender that it just falls off the fruit and if you hold the peel up to the sunlight it shines with a wonderful translucence. The skin is as thin as paper. This is a banana we shared with some friends who are visiting. Even though we don't have a whole lot of bananas it is good karma to share them and the pleasure of seeing someone's face light up when they bite into one is worth it.

I will be interested to see if the bananas on the bottom of the stalk ever really ripen and what they might be like. The bottom couple of "hands" never really developed as fully as the top ones but it looks like they may also be trying to ripen. I look forward to giving them a taste test as well.

I suspect the next picture I post here will be of the ceremonial cutting of the stalk and the dedication of the new plants now growing up from the base to replace this one. May they be as productive and pleasurable to have around as this one has been.

The last hands are ripening.Well, it's coming down to the end. I couldn't resist posting another picture. We've eaten about a dozen and a half bananas so far, sharing about half of them with friends. (bananas are for sharing) It will be sad to cut down the plant once we've finished the bananas, it has been such a part of our lives for the last year that it will leave quite a big hole when it is gone. It will also leave a big hole in the greenhouse space since it has been the dominant plant there for quite awhile. I've gotten used to walking around and through it to get to the living room and it will seem strange not to duck on the way through the greenhouse.

But the younger plants now growing up around the base of this one will soon get big enough that we'll need to duck again...and hopefully they will follow in their older sibling's "footsteps" and give us delicious bananas in their time.

A delicious crop of bananas!These last few were all eaten up by January 29th. The last 3 or 4 were pretty small, very cute little things, and incredibly sweet. I'm sure going to miss our bananas.

This one started opening on the tree.This is one of the aforementioned cute bananas. I noticed that this one was getting so fat on the tree that it was splitting its skin. So, naturally, I had to pick it immediately. It lasted until about 10 seconds after this picture was taken.

The last two bananasHere's a shot of the last two bananas. Not long after this picture was taken we ate them, savoring every bite, knowing it would be quite a while before we got fresh homegrown bananas again.

The cutting of the treeHere I am cutting down the tree, with much sadness but tons of gratitude as well. I placed some of the cut leaves and stalks around the smaller plants that were coming up so the old tree could supply some of its energy to the new ones. This would happen naturally as the depleted plant rotted and became compost for the newer growth. Banana trees only produce one crop and then die back. The base of this particular plant has become quite large and robust and is producing "suckers" or new growth all the time. To increase our chances of getting bananas I actually have to remove suckers fairly regularly so they don't take energy from the main plant.

When I removed this depleted tree I also removed some of the other trees as well, keeping only the largest and strongest along with a couple of very small ones. I have transplanted one of the better suckers to another part of the greenhouse and it is now growing slowly as it establishes its "corm" (root ball) and gets it roots deep into the soil of our greenhouse. If we're lucky we will be able to have two producing banana plants at the same time. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Thanks to everyone who has visited here and who has sent me e-mails of encouragement for the banana project. I'll leave this page active in the hopes that soon I'll be able to report a new growth of fruit on our trees and begin again the saga of growing bananas in the Colorado High Country!

a bumper crop of bananasWell, I thought I'd put up this shot of the bananas growing in the front of the greenhouse. This is our third crop of bananas and the first from this location. Very sweet, very delicious and much more prolific than the ones to the rear of the greenhouse. Since the house has been on the market we've it has been empty for more than a year, no one to keep the woodstove going, yet the house itself is so efficient that the bananas have survived on just occasional watering and the solar gain from the greenhouse. Considering that the outdoor temperature got down to -20F last winter I'd say that's a pretty good endorsement of the house design.

Here's a good website to find out more about growing bananas! Orient Bananas!

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Wagonmaker Press
Thomas W. Elliot