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The banana plant, Musa acuminata

One of the most particular nights in my garden is when the first frost arrive, usually in mid October. Although the air at head height did fall below 1C, the tops of Dahlia, yacon and oca was killed by freezing. Oca only partly, as I have placed a box on top of the plants. Only leaves out of the box is dead. First frost typically happens in my garden in mid-October, after a day of sunshine, in a windless night. The bone-dry air lets the earth’s heat radiate out into the universe. The cooling then hits all the most frost tender plants.

Does that sound bad? It is not. It is another step into our future. Both tops of Dahlia and of yacon is fine to get frozen, because it reminds me that it’s time to dig them up. It will probably be a long time yet, before the frost reaches the tubers down the ground. But if I wait to dig them up, I’m likely to forget about them.

Other plants tolerate no frost at all. F.ex. geranium, lemon grass and banana plants must be completely protected from frost. I potted them up last week-end. Now they just have to get the best out of the warm, low light winter quarter in too dry air.

The banana plant, which stood in the kitchen garden, I had planned to overwinter outdoors under a thick cover, but as far as I can understand the good advice on the internet, it has no real chance to get through. So this winter I’ll take it indoors. In the photo it is just placed in the pot, waiting for more recycled potting soil. But maybe I will leave it outdoor next year. Maybe it just need a huge compost pile and a tarpaulin on top of it?

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Lemon grass, Cymbopogon citratus

Lemon grass I have grown in the garden for several seasons, and taken it indoors every winter. It works fine, and some of the stems are nice thick. The thick ones we can eat, the rest can overwinter in a clump, be divided in spring and planted in the vegetable garden again.

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Some of the lemon grass stalks are nice and thick


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Lemon-grass Cymbopogon citratus grown outdoor

Some years ago I brought a piece of lemon-grass home from Thailand. It was grown in pots, inside our house during winter, on the terrace in summer. Size was bearable, and I was really pleased. But then I heard that pot is crucial to how large lemon-grass grows. The biggest pot I can get is my garden, so this year they were planted out in June. They grew well out in the garden, and my tender loving care could be reserved for other crops. The yield was higher because I had planted more plants.
Before frost, I took one of the plants into a pot so that it can overwinter in our glass bay window – it might as well hibernate on a window sill.

Apparently lemon-grass recover quickly from division and transplanting, growth halt for 14 days, and then growth begins again, exploiting the new conditions. It’s my impression, that lemon-grass isn’t especially heat-dependent. Actually an easy plant to grow if you don’t mind caring for it in the winter season.

The fresh taste of lemon-grass is somewhat similar to lemon balm. A delightful and slightly rough lemon flavour. Lemon-grass has the advantage of preserving the lemon taste well when dried. The disadvantage is that the plants has to be overwintered indoors. Well, left in the garden it will not be invasive up here in the north 🙂

One need not travel to South-east Asia to acquire a plant. You can buy seeds, or plants from garden centres. Sometimes I find fresh lemon grass in some immigrant shops and supermarkets. It roots easily.


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