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Managing the Bananas

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I learn by mistakes, usually after the second or third one! A year and a half ago my banana plant produced a stalk of bananas and I had no clue why. 

I also learn via research. The internet said, if I take care of the plants they may produce by design rather than by accident. It is 10-15 month cycle for the plant to bear, they won’t produce well if crowded and they like to be fed.  I am using fish emulsion and regular doses of my compost. 

The results for this season, have been two full stalks of the Burro banana and three of the Manzano. The dead or damaged leaves are now used for a layer of mulch/weed barrier. In some parts of Mexico the leaves are used to wrap tamales rather than using corn husks. 

Just change the topic and slide into more about bananas….,,

I recieved a call about some “free” bees in a TALL pine tree and my Goo friend John and I checked them out. They are 30 plus feet up in a the tree with multiple openings in a long split in the trunk. It will be a real challenge. Not sure I am the man for the job. 

 While looking over the yard I noticed a banana plant, a Burro banana plant, with a very nice stalk of nature bananas. Located behind that plant is what looks like a Manzano plant with a stalk developing. Wow!

So, I gave a lesson and cut a nice big hand of bananas for the home owners. I will definitely have to follow up. Here is a photo of a recently cut hand from my plant that is identical to the one I cut at the homeowner’s house.

From the photo you can definitely see where the term “chunky banana” comes from. 

Earlier in the day we went by one of my hives in the backyard of a friend. This is an 8 frame garden hive, two deeps and two medium supers, started from a package during the second week of April. This colony just exploded. Must be a great Queen and on top of that, a great location. The plan for the visit was the remove excess  frames, consolidate and ready the hive for the remainder of the summer. Well, the hive was over flowing and chock full. The result was 40 pounds of honey and we still left them with plenty. Added some hive beetle traps and closed them up. 


One of my garden hives pictured above from earlier in the spring. Just two deep boxes and no supers. Top bar hive in the background. 

Now, a day later, FYI, this is taking me three days to jot down, I need to visit my top bar hives and another set of garden hives before I run off on my Californua adventure. I was just reminded that I need to organize and clean up my hive work site – yes dear

TTFN

Bishop

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Banana Bonanza

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2016 – the banana plants have been going bananas! Literally. Yes Plants not trees. The past two winters here in Houston have been mild resulting in the banana bonanza. I pulled up some info from the Texas A&M Horticulture website;

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/fact-sheets/banana/

Here is the intro to growing the bananas;

“Banana

Julian W. Sauls Extension Horticulturist

Broad, long, graceful leaves and rapid growth-commonly reaching full size in just a few weeks-make banana a favorite plant for providing a tropical look to pool and patio areas. The development of bananas following a frost-free winter is a source of both pride and amazement to those unfamiliar with banana culture.

Banana is a tropical herbaceous plant consisting of an underground corm and a trunk (pseudostem) comprised of concentric layers of leaf sheaths. At 10 to 15 months after the emergence of a new plant, its true stem rapidly grows up through the center and emerges as a terminal inflorescence which bears fruit.

The flowers appear in groups (hands) along the stem and are covered by purplish bracts which roll back and shed as the fruit stem develops. The first hands to appear contain female flowers which will develop into bananas (usually seedless in edible types). The number of hands of female flowers varies from a few to more than 10, after which numerous hands of sterile flowers appear and shed in succession, followed by numerous hands of male flowers which also shed. Generally, a bract rolls up and sheds to expose a new hand of flowers almost daily.”

Ok – enough of the technical talk. The bonanza is a bit like your neighbor that is overwhelmed with zucchini – you hide when you see them coming. Yes, I gave away a lot of bananas. Once you cut the stalk off the ripening process speeds up. They are great in smoothies but one smoothie a day doesn’t take much of a bite out of the bounty. Eating fresh is a good idea too, but………you get the idea. The freezer is well stocked with both the Burro and Manzano bananas so now what?

Jam, yeah jam! Never heard of banana jam…..Google it! Yes Virginia, people do make banana jam!

Food.com, Yee Haw!

Banana  Jam by Chef GreanEyes on April 2nd 2009

4 cups of ripe bananas……no problem here!

6 ½ tbsp.  of lemon juice

6 cups of sugar – again no problem, I buy 25 pound bags to feed to the bees during lean times

3 ounces of pectin –

¾ cup of unsalted butter – I cut that back to a little less than ½ cup

Now the tough part…..it takes time and multiple steps to make the jam.

  1. Combine bananas, 3 cups sugar, lemon juice and let stand for an hour
  2. Add remaining sugar and cook over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved
  3. Bring to a boil for two minutes
  4. Remove from heat and skim foam
  5. Bring back to a boil – boil 1 minute
  6. Remove from heat and skim foam, yes, again
  7. Add butter and bring to boil AGAIN
  8. Add pectin and stir constantly
  9. Boil for  1 minute
  10. Remove from heat and skim once again.
  11. Allow to cool for 7 minutes
  12. Add to sterilized canning jars
  13. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes
  14. Let sit for 24 hours

Then enjoy!

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On the stalk and very ripe.

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Boil and skim 1, 2 or 3…..

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Some of the skimmed foam, no, it didn’t go to waste.

 

Based on what is on the “plant” in my garden, I have more neighbors to overwhelm, more freezer space to occupy and maybe a few more batches of this jam. The first batch was with the Burro bananas, the next will be with the Manazano…..taste test comparisons sometime soon!

 

TTFN

Bishop

Bee Adventures

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Yesterday morning, yes too early for the bees  (mistake one), I went to check on and maybe harvest some honey from my original top bar hive. It has been intolerably hot lately, hot enough to make the wax comb very soft. This topbar hive is my gentle hive. See photo below;


I normally just smoke them a little and wear my veil as seen in the photo! Today I decided to gear up and wear my white overalls, gloves and the above veil.

Mistake two; The bees were agitated from the “git go!” No problem, I had smoke and protective gear. It was 8:45 in the morning and the top bar hive was still in the shade. Probably a thousand or more clustered on the outside and little evidence of foraging…..

The veil has long strings and the trick is to make sure that my collar is flipped up and the veil secured without gaps. Mistake number three, I failed to check the collar and the fit. All of a sudden I feel air from beating wings on my face.

“John, are the bees inside my veil?”  I ask.

“Yes, quite a few”, he responds.

I start heading out of the area and I have company both inside and out. They seem to be pissed at me and ignoring John. I took 6-7 or more in the back of my head and a few more on my forehead.

I wander back to my Suburban, licking my wounds and suit up. John is putting the bars back in place and the top back on. I return to take a peek at the other topbar hive and the two Langstroth hives.

The 8 frame is healthy but growing slower than my other three 8-frame hives. The 10 frame hive is doing nicely with a queen hatched from my original top bar hive. FYI,  my top bars sized to fit in my Langstroth hives. The second top bar hive was also cloned from a queen cell and a few  bars of brood, pollen and honey from the original hive.

Ok, I have orders from the sales manager (my wife for some cut comb and I know where to go. I have two 8 frame hives nearby and I have been anxious to harvest them. I pulled 11 frames, 3 beautiful ones for cut comb and we extracted the others.


I wound up with 12 – eight ounce squares and I also boxed up all the trimmings. I let them drain a bit on the rack before boxing them up. I love cut comb! I also wound up with over 30 pounds of liquid honey. Two more hives to visit in the next day or two to  on the honey production.

TTFN

Bishop

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