The office allotment has had a few casualties since summer. The lemon verbena and the tarragon did OK to start before quickly growing too soft, pale and leggy. Vietnamese coriander also grew the same way, before falling to red spider mite that must have travelled in on it. All three were binned. The trouble is my office glass has a tint which means that low light levels are even further compromised.

I got fed up with the both the sweet and chilli peppers which grew well, but with soft foliage so that they were overly affected by the aphids which they kept getting. When their flowers continually failed to set fruit, despite my efforts to hand-pollinate them, I got cheesed off and cut them down.

Also an Alpinia that I bought was a secondary victim of my own month-long swine flu episode. The plant arrived by mail at the office while I was sick and seemed fine when I unwrapped it, but gradually died off and went mouldy. This was also partly down to my ignorance in planting it up in a compost that retained too much moisture. It seems to me now that the ginger family cannot really tolerate much moisture when they are little more than a rhizome. Once they have rooted and shooted they are much better.

So left for this winter were my dwarf Cavendish banana, three gingers, pineapple, lemongrass and coffee plant.

Just before Christmas I dug up the Abyssinian banana from Little Boot’s jungle area and dragged it indoors. It sat leafless in the kitchen looking very sad. So on December 30th I potted it into some fresh compost and dragged it into the office. The environment was immediately to its liking and it has gone crazy, throwing out a new leaf roughly every week to ten days.

And lastly, I’ve just added a Zingiber clarkeii – a plant which I have little knowledge of and haven’t been able to discover much about.

I may contact Edinburgh Botanical Gardens on that, as they seem to be the UK place in the know for the ginger family.

(EV = Ensete ventricosum)