You will no doubt be wondering what the thing is in the above image. An over-exposed snap of a piece of grated coconut on a bed of chocolate mousse? A badly taken photo of a peeled banana that has landed in something unpleasant?
Well, the last is nearest the truth because it is the tiny emerging shoot of a Musella lasiocarpa seed I planted four weeks ago.
This is it the next day; it’s showing a remarkable rate of growth.
  

It might seem like a small thing, but it is something I’m immensely proud of, even if it is a fluke. 

You see I have read that this plant, the Golden Lotus Banana, is difficult to germinate. I’ve seen tales of it taking a year or more, and others of just one in a hundred germinating. You will therefore I hope, forgive me if I am a bit smug about getting one out of six to grow in just one lunar month. 

I think the advantage I have over the folk I’ve linked to is that they appear to be in quite hot parts [of the United States], and I am in the middle of a very parky UK winter. You see the plant is found Yunnan province in China, which seems to have quiet a varied climate and certainly has cool periods. 

I do not know about the provenance of the seeds but they will have spent a couple of days at least in chilly post offices and postal vans before they arrived. They then spent a while knocking around in a house that was sparingly heated in the day time and pretty cold in the dead of night. Once planted they spent nights in the propagator at approaching 30° C and days outside it, in the house, which has probably been between 12°C & 18°C in the daytime. I understand that you have to do this temperature alternating with some, but not all, bananas. 

Anyway whatever went right – it worked. 

The plant is sacred to Buddhists and so I’m taking this as a sign of good fortune to come. 

I mentioned a while back a similar fluke which occurred where I had managed to grow a Morinda citrifolia seed. Well that germinating pip is now this handsome little fellow, and before too long will be on its way to the office allotment. 

 

Now, as ever, I’m not claiming any real level of horticultural finesse, but I have managed to germinate two more of them and they do seem to be regarded as a bit tricky – at least outside Hawaii. 

But  what I am wondering is, whether there is some kind of term for someone who is this jammy with germinating seeds?

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The office allotment has made me much more aware to the possibilities of plants regarded as exotic in the UK. And this has, I admit, been boosted by my Noni germination success. I say success, but mean fluke. The other day I found a site that explained how to germinate Noni (or Morinda citrifolia) . If I had read it before I’d tried to grow the seed then there’s no-way I’d have bothered.

My awareness of the plant was sparked by mention of it on a cookery programme and because of the same source I’m looking into growing various members of the ginger family like Galangal and Turmeric.

Consequently, these days, I tend to fall on food programmes and articles on distant lands, and so was a bit disappointed by Allegra McEverdy’s article in last Saturday’s paper about “China’s tastiest region”. Not only was it rather flat and uninspiring, but it didn’t give me any hot leads for exotic edibles I might think about growing. In truth it did mention Taro root (Colcasia) which is something I had recently put on the list of potential additions to the OA.

Incidentally, I’ve found that food programmes on the remoter satellite channels such as Travel & Living and Travel Channel are a good source (no pun intended) of potential plants. There was a good one last weekend from Brazil which included Caju fruit, Acerola fruit, Vinagriera (Red Sorrel) and Cariru (waterleaf). Not only that –  they tend to be more about the food and much less about the presenter than the UK variety.

In a similar vein I bought a book this week in the local Oxfam bookshop “Uncommon fruits for every garden”. It’s published by Timber Press who put out great books. As expected there were all sorts of new & interesting things, like the Raisin tree, Shipova, Jujube, Kaki and Che, but I was a little open-mouthed at a section on currants in the middle! And then there was the bit on gooseberries!

But then I guess just as Shatkura are unusual and exciting to me there must be parts of the globe where they’ve never come across a goosegog.

I normally only get one birthday present that I really like which, seeing’s as I’m by my own admission very difficult to buy for, I count as a blessing.

But today, I was doubly blessed with great pressies.

First, from Little Boots, a propagator (or poppa-grater) which I plan to fill with all sorts of exciting seedlings – starting with my Morinda.

Of which, I’ve been able to take a close-up photo, using my next fab present – a little microscopey camera gadget.    

And that leads to a third cause of delight – the Noni has some true leaves coming through.