Here we are, 2 days away from August and Miami is hellish, although it may not look that way in pictures. I’d say from 6:30am to about 9:30am it is pleasant enough to work in the garden, but after that the sun begins to pierce through your skin and the humidity will have you breaking a blinding sweat.
Our bananas, which were planted between 2010 and 2011, are almost all flowering this summer. Some of them were gifts from fellow gardeners and others were purchased at the banana nursery, Going Bananas, in Redland, FL. I love this place and their website is a great resource for banana and plantain research. We have a few prized varieties in the garden, including Dwarf Namwa, Gold Finger, Saba, Praying Hands, Hua Moa, Mysore and a few other varieties including a red fruit type which were given to me without identification. Our plants grow into huge green towers thanks to all the manure they receive and the companion plants they coexist with. Sweet potatoes cover the grown around the base of the trunks and papayas, sugar cane and roselle share the sub-canopy, while mango branches welcome the newest, biggest and highest leaves of the ever growing bananas.
A banana flower is one of the most amazing things to watch as it begins to emerge from the center of the plant and gradually elongates unfolding one huge purple petal at a time. The tiny banana hands inside each petal are so fresh and perfect when they first appear, each individual banana with a showy flower at it’s end, dripping nectar for the bees who visit regularly. They exude a very distinct smell which is now permeating the garden; it’s not particularly sweet, but more musty, sappy and green, like the smell of a jungle or rainforest.
The best part is the promise of future homegrown bananas ripening into fat golden fruit, which are much more flavorful and have a rich, creamy texture compared to commercially produced bananas. Like with many homegrown things, there is no comparison.