Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fruit and Roots In The Garden! Bananas, Horseradish, Ginger and Turmeric

Dear Folks,

ROOTS

My horseradish has come up!

On November 19th, I got some nice fat organic roots at Whole Foods, broken them into 3 pieces and planted in 3 different locations, 2 near my ginger and turmeric and 1 in a shade spot where I have an Arabian Jasmine and a Gardenia (I think I found that Gardenia's happy spot but that will be a different post :-).

I've been growing horseradish for quite a while but the bed did not sprout this year the way it usually had, so I figured it was time to get some fresh roots and try some new areas.

Horseradish is one of those root crops which is not supposed to do well here in the desert.  Partial shade has been the key and they usually grow opposite (that was the other key point I figured out some years ago).  The plant usually starts to die back in late Spring/early Summer when the weather gets too warm, and I harvest then, putting some roots back in the ground.  I do not harvest the first year I plant, but I may just have to take a peek this spring to see how the roots are doing.

When horseradish is growing lushly - harvest some of the greens for a nice sharp addition to salads and soups.


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Other roots that "should not grow in the desert" are Ginger and Turmeric.  Like the Horseradish, they need a shady spot but with some filtered sunlight.

All of these root foods have found the "northeast" under canopy areas of my gardens their happy spots.  While horseradish does not need frost protection, the tropicals Ginger and Turmeric do.

Pictures are two "green" ginger plants book-ending a yellowing turmeric.  This is my first year growing turmeric so I'm curious as to how the roots perform.  I will let you know when I decide to harvest.

All of these root crops are so good for us, if you can grow them -- do so.

Something you cannot see - yet - on either side of the turmeric I sowed "Ramp" seeds in one of my grand experiments.  It remains to be seen if and when they sprout as the information available indicates it can be a year or more for the Ramp Seeds to sprout.  I chose this spot and one other (near another horseradish) for the same reason - filtered shade.

FRUIT

I've been growing the "Ice Cream/Blue Java Banana" for many years.  We have not had fruit often because 1) the spots where I have stuck the plants in are not the best, and 2) the fruit often has come out at a less-than-optimal time for maturing before frost.

So is the story of this fruit.  Pictures is a bunch we spotted on November 15th.  Because it looked like potential frost I harvested the bunch on November 29th and hung it inside over the sink for light and humidity.  Banana fruit takes approximately 4 months to go from flower appearance to mature fruit.  I have to say the fruit took its time and was looking sad when it suddenly turned yellow almost overnight and appeared ready collapse so I peeled and readied for a bowl of cereal.  A few of  looked like they were more seed than fruit, so I split them and have planted them in a pot - now in my greenhouse.

The last part of the collage is - surprise - a new bunch of bananas spotted January 9, 2017.  Because there are leaves over the fruit, partially sheltering from frost, I will leave these on the plant until they are ready to harvest :-)

So "ice cream"?  This refers to the taste of the banana which is supposed to be like vanilla ice cream.  In the past the fruit has had a creamy vanilla flavor - most of us tasting them agreed.  This time I could not detect any vanilla, but the bananas were creamier than a standard Cavendish (the type you buy in the store).

So is it worth while growing bananas?  Sure. Among other things I love the tropical look of the plants and the leaves are wonderful for steaming/grilling food in, they impart a fruity flavor to foods like fish.

I hope this inspires you to try growing more of these kinds of roots and fruit.

Have a great time in the garden and kitchen with your bounty!



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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