Ode to a Radish
Dad explains the Corn Plow

My Dad's Banana Tree

I'm down in San Diego County visiting my Dad, who is a few months from his 100th birthday. He has a banana tree with 7 ripe fruits on it, and we ate one of them today. Pretty good little banana. He says they don't get as strongly flavored, that unpleasant too-much-banana oil taste that the standard grocery variety gets when it is too ripe.

Dad transplanted this banana tree about 4 years ago, from the back to the front yard, having decided that it was getting too battered by wind in the back. Mind you this was a big clump of banana stems, and on one of my visits, it had disappeared. Took me a couple of days to notice that he had moved one 4-foot tall stem to the front. At the time, Dad was walking with 2 canes, so I know it took him a while to get rid of the old plants and plant one stem. I had sent him a short-handled shovel, so he could dig sitting down, and that's how he dug the hole for the stem he moved.

These days, after 2 broken hips and 2 hip replacements, he is in a wheelchair mostly. During his recovery from one and then the other broken hip, the plants in his garden got somewhat sporatic watering, but most survived, and now my brother has put leaky hose all around plants so caregivers can water more easily. Dad has been anticipating these ripe bananas, saving them to eat during my visit.The banana plant now has as many stems as it once had in back, and they are a lot less wind-battered. There is a second inflorescense that has maybe 50 green fruits on it, They take 18 months from fruit set to ripe fruit, and he is looking forward to those bananas.

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C.C.

Best wishes to your Dad. It seems many gardeners live for many years. My Great-Grandfather was 98 years and his son was 101 years (very close to 102). And all of them gardened and farmed. Gardening, I believe, promotes longevity.

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