Although temperatures still don't have me concerned -- it's just been so mild, just barely getting below freezing a few nights -- I figured that it was time to get the Musa basjoo banana ready for winter.
I've just left it alone so far, except for the effort I went through to save the leaves that will insulate it.
My back has been sore since Halloween when I hoisted too-heavy a load of leaves over my shoulder so I haven't been doing much in the garden, and I'm lucky that the weather has cooperated and let me procrastinate on many tasks. (My back is feeling normal now, finally)
I usually get the bananas ready for winter in mid-November, so the extra five weeks have been a luxury!
So let's take a look at what's going on here. The tops are all frozen and dead...
...but the lower parts of each pseudostem are still solid -- temperatures that dip into the upper 20's F for a night or two don't cause much damage on these thick parts:
The best thing about this task is that I get to do what might be the most fun and dangerous gardening chore that I have:
I get to chop down the stems with my machete!
A good hard swing and the blade slices through even the thickest "trunk". So satisfying!
Then it's just load up the cut stems and all of the leaves and cart them to the compost pile. That was a heavy load, as those stems hold so much water!
Next I needed to move the fence from the temporary leaf corral to around the bananas:
The "grove" (is that the right word?) is getting so large, I might need to start removing pups next year to keep things a manageable size. It's not like I have an endless supply of leaves -- or yards and yards of fencing.
Here's what the plant looked like in November 2013:
So much larger now!
The leaves were all quite dry, so I'm glad I went to the trouble of gathering and covering them this way, even though moving them again had me questioning the double effort.
I left the stems longer than I really should have, but we'll see how things go. I expect the tops to freeze, but maybe I'll be surprised. It seems like it will never get cold enough, but we still have the two coldest months to get through...
This is the first year that I've tried covering the leaves to keep them dry. This should help minimize the rotting of stems -- dry and cold is almost always better than wet and cold!
So that's one job done for this winter -- even though based on the forecast I could probably have waited until after Christmas before doing this. Imagine waiting until January... crazy!