Bananas – nature and nurture

Six years ago I rescued some suckers from a neglected South Townsville garden and planted them in my own. Two years ago I rescued some more when we moved house, to plant them in my new garden. This week I found myself with a bunch from the original (still neglected) patch and a bunch from my new patch, and here they are, side by side.

large and small bananas
Genetically identical

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Burdekin Plum Jam

Having collected and ripened enough Burdekin Plums to make some jam, as described in my previous post, I began experimenting. My results after many hours of simmering were mixed – but that’s what experimenting is all about, isn’t it?

Burdekin Plum Jam Recipe 1 – Del Turnbull

Big panful of ripe plums
Water
Sugar
Jamsetta [pectin]

Cover plums with water and boil gently for 1 ½ hours.
Strain and measure juice. (Put fruit out for wallabies, they love them.)
To every 5 cups of juice add 4 ½ cups sugar and ½ pkt of jamsetta.
Boil for 10 mins, try on a saucer in the fridge. If the surface doesn’t crinkle, boil another 5 mins and try again.
When it crinkles pour into preheated sterilised jars (in oven at 50 deg for 10 mins).
And that’s it.

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Burdekin Plum

I was introduced to the Burdekin Plum fairly soon after arriving in Townsville so I’ve known the fruit for twenty-five years or more, but somehow without getting around to eating one or knowing much about them.

A bucket of Burdekin Plums, many of them quite under-ripe

That looked like it would change when we moved into a house that had a big tree in the neighbour’s yard, overhanging our roof, and the time has come: we had the tree trimmed last week and picked up a couple of buckets of fruit afterwards, too many to ignore.

History and botany

The Burdekin Plum, Pleiogynium timoriense, is native to coastal Queensland and its range extends through New Guinea, the Pacific Islands and Indonesia to Malaysia. It has been here, with surprisingly little change to the fruit, for at least thirty million years according to Andrew Rozefelds and Ngaire Kane whose article gives the best introduction to the species I have found.

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Backyard bananas – an update

Anyone searching Green Path for “banana” will get a lot of results but none which give any sense of what has been happening in my garden recently. A reader sent me a compliment, a request and an offer (all in one email), so I thought I could reply here, via a general update on my backyard banana growing.

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