Garden Diary - November 2011

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Saturday, 5 November 2011
Winterizing Banana Plants

Last month's nor'easter with its accompanying snow and cold knocked back
tender plants such as cannas. And Musa basjoo, my hardy Japanese fiber banana.
Hardy is a relative term. Warmth seeping through the house foundation surely helps.
So does some assistance. Usually I fill plastic garbage cans with pine needles or
leaves. That's awkward. This year I went for the ne plus ultra of protection, short of
an electric blanket (which someone did once try but it shorted out, fried the banana.)

. . .

I bought a water tank insulation blanket. Vinyl film on one side of the insulation. Used scissors to cut insulation to fit inside tub and over the top.
Or bottom, depending on your point of view. There was sufficient material to make three sets.

I used a small pruning saw to cut down the banana culms to the height of tub minus insulation. In order
to keep the insulation dry (air insulates, mositure conducts) I placed a large garbage bag over
the cut back culm, wrapped insulation around and over. Then brought remainder of garbage bag
over the insulation and taped it closed. The tub would protect bag and insulation from damage.

. . .

One problem I discovered the first winter of protecting my banana was voles. Warmth seeping through foundation,
deep leafy mulch, and a wonderful food supply in the way of banana corms. Yummy! Reluctantly, I now use
mothballs, the smelly kind. I tuck them around the culms and scatter them on the ground between the culms.

Tubbed and ready for the winter.

Update: Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Paul called me over to a pile of leaves near the log splitter. Look - Ice!
We had that wet snow on 29 October and the leaves were insulation,
good enough that 10 days later there was still some frozen, not melted.
Image of bright light bulb over my head. This gives me an idea.

I took a partial roll of some leftover fencing wire and set it up around the tubs of bananas.
Next I raked up tarp after tarp filled with oak leaves and dumped them over and between
the tubs. Didn't pack them down. It's the small air pockets that insulate. Not thermal mass.

Put a tarp over the top of the leaves, working it down a little way
between fencing and leaves. Used twine to tie grommets to fencing.

Arranged some bamboo canes over the tarp to hold it down against the wind. Where canes cross
each other I tied them together. Embellishment for next winter: lash tarp to cane along back wall,
work down between house foundation and piled leaves. Also get shorter fencing. Think this will work.

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