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Overwintering Musa Basjoo

Even a hardy banana tree like a musa basjoo isn’t going to fair too well over a New Jersey winter. So once the weather starts getting cool, I grab my favorite shovel and I start digging up banana trees.

The roots aren’t very deep so it’s not a tough chore. I usually cut all the leaves off first too. Some people like to leave the leader leaf on the plant to help kick start it's growth in the spring but I rarely bother. They grow just fine without it.

A few years back I bought a tiny little basjoo from Plant Delights and it’s done really well in my yard. These banana plants like to have babies or "pups" as they’re called in the banana world. So every year I have more and more plants. I’m up to 10 decent sized plants at this point and I’ve given a few away too. They look great in my yard during the warm months but they’re completely taking over my garage during the winter.

My garage, which on a good day looks like a disaster zone gets this nice tropical disaster zone feel to it when it’s stuffed with 10 giant banana stalks. But I’m fine with that as long as my trees are nice and toasty warm for the winter.

Happy Thanksgiving

ornamental grass

Composting Your Cell Phone

Leaf BinSomewhere in this gigantic pile of leaves is my wife's cell phone.

We've tried calling it in hopes of hearing the ringer but it goes directly into voicemail.

I guess this will be the last time she helps me rake leaves.

Update: About a week later we got a call from the mother of a one of my son's friends. Apparently, my wife dropped her phone on their lawn while picking up my son from a play date. So it wasn't in the compost pile but it was sitting on their lawn for over a week.

I guess I still have a leaf raking partner after all. :)

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard Frost DamageWell, that'll do it. That fat lady has sung. Here lies the last of my Swiss Chard.

After about a week of nighttime temperatures dropping below freezing, the garden is finally closed for the season. The plan was to build some mini hoops houses over my raised beds and try to continue gardening through December but I didn't have enough free time to make that happen.

The other casualties beside this Swiss Chard include a few different kinds of salad greens, bok choy, arugala and brocolli rabe. They were in such bad shape that I didn't even want to take pictures of them. Let's keep this a closed casket funeral.

I really wanted to follow the advice of Elliot Coleman in his book Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long and build little hoops houses or maybe even some cold frames and garden through the winter. But I'm still happy that I had fresh greens almost all the way through November. Next year, maybe I'll make it to Thanksgiving. Hmmm, that AeroGarden is looking better and better.

Composting Leaves

leaf bin
I'm got so many leaves, you'd think they were falling from the sky or something.

Composting Christmas

This morning, Amazon made me very happy by announcing, Amazon's Frustration-Free Packaging. In their own words, they are "working with leading manufacturers to deliver products inside smaller easy-to-open recyclable cardboard boxes with less packaging material (and no frustrating plastic clamshells or wire ties)."

Now you're probably saying, what could this possible have to do with composting or gardening? Well, actually it's quite relevant but you'll have to bear with me for a moment.

One of my pet peeves on Christmas morning is all of the garbage that's left over. Have you tried to open up an action figure or really just about any toy lately? If you don't have wire cutters and a box knife, it takes literally 15 minutes to liberate a toy from it's package. Or how about batteries or small electronics? Those things could take a voyage to the bottom of the sea and return completely dry because of those crazy plastic clamshells. Now thanks to Amazon, all of that packaging can be composted.

These non-frustrating packages that Amazon is going to start using are recyclable. That means, that I'll be able to flatten the boxes and use them in the garden. Cardboard is great for stopping weeds. Just place it in between your raised garden beds and cover with mulch and you've got a weed free path. And if I'm all out of weeds (yeah right), I can just compost the boxes.

Here's a trick that I use for pizza boxes that would work great for regular cardboard boxes too. I fill a 5 gallon pail up with water and stuff the box in there. Then just leave it in there for a while or even overnight. The next day, the cardboard is mush and ready for the bin. No need to cut it into strips or anything, mush breaks down much faster than strips anyway.

So thanks for making my day Amazon. Since there's only a few products that come in frustration free packaging so far, my dream of composting Christmas is still a ways off. But that day is coming and that's great news.

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