By Eunice Messner

GOING BANANAS You would "go bananas" too if you had 300 lbs. ripen in one month. It was the sturdy, redwood
sized trunk of "Gold Finger'" that produced five stalks, each with about 60 pounds . Luckily, my church lets me set up a small farmers market each Sunday. They are getting introduced and educated about the better taste of organic fruits and vegetables.

Another super producer from my garden is the beautiful, oriental "Ping Tung" eggplant. From three plants, I harvest approximately 18 a week. I shared a simple recipe for "Baked Eggplant" and they come back for more.

At the board meting, Steve Berger told me that, from his conversation with Frank James the "Gold Finger"' is another "take over" type of banana, meaning you wish you hadn't planted it. He said it could take two men two days to dig it out. Well, that's a lot shorter time than it took me to get rid of the floppy "Ice Cream" banana.
The "Ice Cream" may be easier to harvest, as it is so tall and pliable that it will flop wherever you want it to rest for harvesting. On the other hand, Gold Finger's 60 pound weight lowered down from 15 feet is risky and
unpredictable, especially so on my steep, hillside slope. On the plus side, it may be a solution for a windy area in your garden. Because of its low height, the "Dwarf Cavendish" is the most manageable of all bananas and a great producer, but I relish harvesting the "Lakatan" most of all for its wonderful flavor.

WHO NEEDS A DOCTOR? According to a few articles I've read, two tropical fruits are a cure-all for many of our physical problems. They are "Noni" (Morinda citrifolia) and Mangosteen. If our weather continues on its warming trend, maybe we too will be able to grow these fruits. Noni does grow in the Florida Keys. The mangosteen Kittie Rau grew from seed is getting sizable. There is also a yellow fruiting one from India at the Arboretum, but it is a different species from the one acclaimed "king of all fruits". The so-called "seeds" of Mangosteen are polyembryonic and have not had sexual fertilization, so there is little variation in the resulting trees. Seeds, however, will remain viable for only about 5 days; but, if left in the fruit, their viability is maintained for 3 to 5 weeks. They produce a long tap root, so tall containers are recommended. One has to be young or planting for a future generation as the trees may take 7 to 20 years to fruit.

SPRAY TIME If all the leaves have been blown off of your stone fruit trees, finish fine pruning (you did summer prune after your tree fruited didn't you?), then apply the first of your lime-sulfur sprays for brown rot, scab and peach leaf curl. I've never had to spray my apricot trees, but if you do, use a lime sulfur spray that includes copper.
Roots grow mostly in the winter time; so cover the soil with mulch or compost for a microbial food source and for a slow release of nitrogen. A heavy mulch also gives you more winter chill.