Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gardening Four: Apples and Bananas

Gardening in Africa, continued...
We are lucky to have a number of fruit trees in our yard: lemon, mango, plum, avocado, pomegranate, a strange African fruit called machange that has yet to ripen, and peach, which our gardener calls "apple." (Last week he told me the mint growing beside our house is a special herb called "apple," and the week before that, the plum tree was a sweet fruit named "apple," so....)   In addition, we have our own mini banana grove near our cottage:

The bananas are a little different than what we find in the US; they have more strings just inside the peel, and are much sweeter- almost too sweet to eat alone!  

They always ripen in one large bunch at the same time. So, though Jonas insists that getting a monkey would help, we have resorted to making large quantities of banana bread.

Banana plants are some of the oldest cultivated plants.  They are often mistaken for trees, but really each trunk-like shoot is a pseudo stem of a larger plant.  Each pseudo stem can be 20-25 feet tall and holds one bunch of bananas, which grows above a dangling flower.

(Not my picture.) The flowers are beautiful and are eaten (cooked) in Indian cuisine.  After the bunch ripens and is cut off, the pseudo stem dies and is then cut down, to be replaced by new growth.

Here is a banana bunch with a dried flower underneath.  The flowers finished blooming about a month before the bananas were ready to pick. 
Random fact: Bananas are slightly radioactive because of their potassium content!