Going Bananas over Bananas!

"Dominicano Soy" (in the voice of Fernandito Villalona) so you know I love Bananas!

"Dominicano Soy" means "I am Dominican" literally, but the real meaning is expressed by Fernandito Villalona in his famous songs, which exemplify being Dominican. Just like the Bananas and Plantains that have become symbols of our island country. Any Dominican will testify of being called a "Platano" and finding that breath of air deep in their lungs to shout back, "You can say that again!". I mean what's the harm? We Love Platanos particularly because they have always been that mainstay breakfast, lunch, dinner food in our plates. Boiled until it softens and eat. Boiled and mashed with a little butter and milk and eat it before I do: "Mangu" is the equivalent of mashed potatoes! Uuwee! Cut in lateral chip slices and fried or cut, lightly fried, smashed and re-fried so that they get a crispy texture and you've got "Tostones". You can call me a "Grandiose Tostone" any day!
Yellow Bananas are my daily sidekicks! I don't know what I would do if I could not have a banana by my side. That's why I had to grow my own. There's nothing better on the run than a banana. Sometimes in the morning when I don't really have an appetite for anything, but I know I must eat something, "Tantarataaa!!" "Bananas to the rescue!" And not just any bananas. You should try some of these delicious options if you see them next time at your farmers markets or grocery shelves. I think they all taste so much better/different than the bulk yellow Cavendish you always see in bulk, but that is my opinion. Go check it out for yourself or you'll never find...
Top Left: Green Plantains gone ripe to brownish yellow/black. Top Right: Over-ripe bulk Cavendish Banana. Bottom Left to Right: Yellow bulk Cavendish Bananas, Burro Bananas, Colombian Manzano Bananas, "Reds" Bananas, Baby Orito Bananas

Even the kids can't even keep their little hands off of them!
I am sure you all know what the bulk Cavendish banana tastes like and the Burro banana was creamier, fatter, sweeter and shorter. Compared to the Cavendish the Colombian Manzano was creamier, but not as much as the Burro. It was shorter and even though the banana was yellow, it was not ready to be eaten. It gives off a very starchy taste that will dry your mouth out, but when ripe and the peel is bursting at the seams it will taste delectable. The Reds were not ripe yet, but could be eaten. It is best to wait until this banana gets deeper color, almost purple. Today they haven't totally darkened, but they taste very sweet and creamy. In-between the creaminess of a Burro and Manzano and also has more of an orange color inside versus traditional lighter yellows. Maybe that is where that taste is coming from. A strong under current taste like vanilla or something very different than all the others I've tried. If anyone knows please pass it along. The last and certainly not least in this picture in the smallest of the bunch, the baby Orito bananas. These were actually my favorite because you can just pop them in your mouth and some of them were as sweet as candy. Very thin outer skin, with what was a perfect texture for me (not too creamy, not too dry) and then a little snap at the end of the bite as if you ripped a vine or cord from within this fragile banana. Just perfect to me.

...And you can always make banana bread. I also added semi-sweet dark chocolate chips.

The Tropical Reserve & Economic Education Center (T.R.E.E.)

Welcome all to the Tropical Reserve and Economic Education Center or better known as T.R.E.E. for various reasons. This effort was partly spurred on by my personal on-going horticulture and botany studies supporting the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. The SF Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is one of the first wonders you'll see when entering through Fell Street, which turns into John F. Kennedy Boulevard inside the park. Though this blog is not about the S.F. Conservatory we do strongly recommend everyone visit because were it not for its energy none of this would have been possible. I am also a docent there so I can go on and on about this most classic Victorian piece of paradise. Many plants have also been donated by SF COF to T.R.E.E. while others were grown from seed, cuttings or purchased as immature plants. 
The SF Conservatory of Flowers
I have been growing plants ever since my first memories of getting dirty with pigs and chasing fluffy chickadees around our land. That was almost 30 years ago when I first remember visiting my family in the northern countryside of the Dominican Republic (island of Hispaniola) even though I'd been told I was traveling to and fro ever since I was born. Flash almost 20 years later in life while growing up in Queens, NY I remember waking up one early dawning morning from a most wonderful dream that took place back on the tropical island and I never ever had felt such a saddening disappointment about being physically in NYC and not in D.R., but I learned one grand lesson. I am deeply connected to that place and I feel the need to support it with my passion for its tropical nature. Well, I should also state that the need to educate our growing population since it has been ballooning exponentially in the last 200 years is also another factor that comes into play. Some numbers: Approximately 500 million people on planet Earth in the year 1650, 1billion people in 1850 (pop. doubled in 200 years), 2 billion in 1950 (pop. doubled in only 100 years), by 2000 our world population was estimated at 6.4 billion (tripling population in the billions in merely 50 years) and we await any day now as, "Crowded, stretched world awaits 7 billionth baby". Per Reuters reports on October 25, 2012.
Back to what's important...tropical nature and of course all of its capabilities to clothe, shelter and adorn us. All the unknown and of course obvious medicines provided by them, the nourishing qualities from seeds and roots to flowers and fruits and oh yeah almost forgot about it's role in purifying our air, water and effect on climate! Preserving these qualities to pass on to our offspring and sharing the beautiful stories of the people fortunate enough to have them in their life experiences. That is why the Tropical Reserve & Economic Education Center exists today! Check out some images below from the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.
Lilies in bloom in the Aquatic gallery.

The Splendid Stilt Palm maturing quite nicely.

Heliconias looking for some action.

Aquatics Gallery: Lower pond.

The Ipe wood display cases in the Highlands gallery.