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Banana, Papaya and Frankincense Trees, Among Other Things


I inherited some young banana and papaya trees on my property. Dwarf banana trees, as a rule, never grow too tall and are long leafy plants. The “trunk” of the tree reminds me of a leek, not because of its color or scent but its overall construction, as best I understand it right now. (I intend to take one apart, layer by layer once I find rubber gloves. I understand they are pretty slimy!)

The papaya tree I refer to as a “wannabe palm tree”. They can get to a nice height, about 20 feet, with good looking trunks but the leaves remain short in length, failing to impress palm enthusiasts. Never the less, they can be a good looking tree even without the great length of a palm frond.

Some men came into the garden to enlighten me on these trees and so I thought I’d share the information with GoY subscribers in case anyone is new to these trees like I am.

Khalil took a look at the papaya trees and took notice that roots were exposed and that the tortoises were feeding on them. I had also noticed the roots were showing but there are a good number of trees where the roots are exposed in this town so I didn’t realize that for this particular tree exposed roots was not a good thing. Naturally, we will fix that. (I now wonder how many other trees should not have their roots exposed!)

From another source I have learned that I must pay attention to the flowers on each tree as this will tell me the gender of the tree (and yes, we even have bisexual to worry about!)

The dwarf banana tree proved very interesting. My banana trees look a wreck. It’s hot here, very hot, so I wondered how much more water they were needing as no amount (more or less) seemed to be correct. It was very perplexing as we’ve witnessed their demise. As we stood around sharing verbal notes of what we could see, which included the discovery of three baby banana trees surrounding this particular tree, Michael disclosed his knowledge about banana trees.

We had bananas for the first time this year. The year before the trees were nice and green so it was surprising that after fruit production, they browned up as badly as they did. Michael explained that once the stalk produces bananas, it has to be uprooted; completely torn out of the ground. If we don’t, worms will arrive and then we have a whole new problem as well as an ugly plant.

So the stalk is pulled and in its place are the three babies. We can move two of the babies to new spots in the garden and, as this plant did, as they grow they will spread their seeds so by the time they produce their own fruit, there will be more babies to take their place.

What a great annual! Then again, it might be a biennial. More on that next year!

Of course, this makes me even more curious about our date trees. We have three and the first year they produced dates we had to bring someone in to pollinate them. This year, the dates appeared without us taking any action. Either Mother Nature got it all figured out on her own or we unnecessarily pollinated the year before. We’ll be bringing someone soon to cut the big palm leaves off and then we’ll save them to protect our roses. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

Great news about our frankincense tree; it’s going to be okay. While the tree is native to Oman, it is from southern Oman and the weather there is not as harsh and much more wet than it is here (in the north). So as long as we can nurse it through the summer with plenty of water, it will spring back to life when this heat moves out. We did witness this last year but when it happened again this year, the dormancy, I couldn’t help but grow nervous.

About our roses, we have hybrid tea roses, or at least I think that’s what they were called. It’s what I recalled my mother and grandmother growing in their gardens so I was happy to get them here (with difficulty, of course!)

Life got busy so they’ve been a bit neglected and grew beyond anything desirable. But they had also appeared to die out which saddened me. And so I asked Khalil about the roses and he said they’d spring back, like the frankincense tree, once the heat moves on. He suggested we cut them short and then suggested that next summer when the heat moves in, camaflouge each bush using the palm fronds and they will experience a less brutal summer. Wow, what a great idea!

I looked up on the internet about using the banana tree trunks as compost and it turns out not to be such a great idea. Quite a few posted that it took as long as 2 and 3 years to break down, with extensive help being given along the way. That was disappointing but it’s always good to get the “heads up” on something before we get too committed.

On the other hand, the tortoises seem to enjoy the nibble!

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Theres a lot to know re growing in your heat. Are the tortoise wild or pets?

29 Jul, 2012


Looks like a redfoot tortoise?

29 Jul, 2012


Drc726 - I replied once but it didn't post so I hope it works this time. The answer is yes; the tortoises are from the wild and are now pets.

We didn't know when we bought them from where they came and have since learned it is most likely from the wild. However, our vet has explained that we have done a good thing in buying them as it has served as a rescue. She has actually encouraged us to get more if we can; and we intend to. Just a few more! We were sorry to hear they were taken from the wild but relieved to hear that by bringing them home we would be offering them a better life than if we had not bought them (odds are.)

Thanks for asking. :)

31 Jul, 2012


Lauram - you're wonderful! I looked up the species and I think you got it exactly right! The character of the tortoise as described on the site I looked at is our tortoise exactly. Where the tortoise is from, how it looks, the behavior...again and again, that's our girl! So thank you from my entire family for sharing your thoughts. What a thrill to know this!!!!

Thank you so much!

31 Jul, 2012

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