Go Bananas

Of the 1,000 banana varieties in the world, only one tends to show up in supermarkets. Luckily these handsome broad-leafed plants thrive here in frost-free areas, giving San Diego gardeners a chance to savor homegrown fruit, some with tasty overtones of apple, mango or papaya. Master Gardener Carol Graham, a banana expert, suggests "cold-hardy” ‘Orinoco’ grown in California for decades, Honduran-bred ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Cardaba’ ideal for cooking, and ‘Cuban Red’, one of the exotic red-skinned varieties. Plant them in full-sun and provide regular water in well-draining soil. Wind damage to leaves- think of it as fringe, Graham says - won’t inhibit fruiting which generally occurs within two years after planting. For more information and retail sources, visit the web site of the California Rare Fruit Growers, www.crfg.org, or their booth at the San Diego County Fair.

 

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