Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not Just for Bananas

Many of us have sat down with a big, yellow banana, peeled back the outside and had a snack. But there is more to a banana than I knew.

Last week we had a delicious soup made of part of the banana plant.

Bananas hanging on the tree. Not ready to pick yet. 

Inflorescence or banana heart.

Banana heart in soup. 

But these are not the only uses of the banana plant. Here is a first-hand account from one of my students. They have to write in journals and last year this was one of his entries:

"In the world there are many kinds of trees. Each kind has a different advantage for people, animals, and land. Some trees we eat the fruit and some we eat the leaf. 

Today I will tell you about one kind of tree that we can use any part of. It has many advantages for people and animals. It is the banana tree! I think everyone will know very well about the banana tree because it is in many counties in the world. I think I can say that it is a common fruit because monkeys and elephants like it so much. Any part of the banana tree is very useful for people. I will tell you all of that.

First we can eat banana fruit even if we are poor! Why? Because it isn't expensive and we can find it in the forest. Most any kind of animal likes to eat bananas. Especially monkeys and elephants! The birds also like to eat it. I know this because I like to shoot the birds. If I want to shoot the birds I will find ripe bananas first. People bring bananas to make cake, snacks or modify in any style they want to eat or cook.

Banana leaves are also useful to people. People use it in their kitchen to cook. People on the mountain always use it to pack their rice when they go somewhere - especially when they go to the farm. They don't use any plastic. People use banana leaves to pack snacks. In Thailand we have Thai snacks from in the past. We cannot use plastic or other things to pack it because it will effect the taste of the snack. We also use its leaves to make toys like a horse. The children like to ride on it.

On the mountains we use the tree to feed animals such as pigs, ducks and chickens. When I was young I used to make a raft from the banana tree. It was very fun. I will never forget how banana trees are very, very useful. People can use banana trees in their festivals to make the festival more beautiful and have more color. In Thailand we will use banana trees in Loi Krathong festival.

There is one thing that I never knew before I came to work at the farm and I don't think you ever knew it either. It is very surprising and interesting for me. We can use banana sprouts to make compost. It will help plants to grow faster. If we want to make our garden beautiful or make more food banana sprouts can help us.

It is not just those thing - we can eat the banana tree too! How? We cut the banana tree and we just take off the bark or skin so we can eat inside. It has a good taste. I know because my father likes to cook banana tree. Some people use it to practice boxing too! And it is also used in some festivals and ceremonies.

Wherever there are many banana trees there will be good weather and a lot of water because banana trees like water. Inside it has more water than other kinds of trees.

Bananas are good for health. In my opinion bananas are very, very good for the brain. Why? Because you see a monkey is very smart and it likes to eat bananas so I think it also will be good for our brain. You can use bananas to make a business too! It can make more money for you if you have a good idea."
(Written by Atiwat as a 2nd year student - currently 3rd year - I made minor grammatical changes)

Another interesting thing I learned was when I asked Atiwat to get me a bunch of ripe bananas. He proceeded to cut down the whole stem (what would actually be like the trunk of a tree) and handed me my bunch of bananas. Each stem only produces one big cluster of bananas, then the stem dies. However, there can be off-shoots at the base, which grow into new stems.

I bet after all this info you won't look at a banana in quite the same way again!

(Want more info?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

Actually, I feel like there are not so many flowers blooming at the moment, which may be why I am looking to dredge up some color for the blog. I've been meaning to give an overview of the flowers that bloom around the school throughout the year. The unfortunate thing is that I don't know the names of the flowers. Of course, we could make this interactive, and people could leave the names in the comments!






There are a couple flowers that I don't have pictures of - beautiful orange flowers that drape over the fence and violet flowers on a tree near the gate. I also didn't include potted flowers in these pictures.

For the most part these flowers do not have a smell, except the bright pink flowers in May, which have an amazing smell at dusk, almost like a vanilla and floral scent.

Flowers are fun - like a surprise. Many of these flowers only stick around for a couple weeks, and then they leave until the next year.