Whilst having a huge clean-up at Primrose Park recently (the home of Primrose Paper Artists) one of our members came across a couple of bags of banana fibre ready for boiling, before pulping and making paper. We couldn’t work out who it belonged to so Jill kindly donated it to me.
You may remember that last October my husband bought me 2 banana trees so I would have my own source for paper making. However, I just can’t bring myself to chop one down to use and I’ve not got enough dead leaves and stalks to make it worthwhile yet.
But, and here’s the great thing, they love my garden, especially the one by the brick wall in the sun. My loving care helps, of course! Although I’m a bit concerned that the leaves are all shredded. Are they supposed to look like this?
Both of them have a baby and I have yet to decide what to do about this. Should I keep the original and chop away the smaller one or wait until the first one has bananas and then cull it (and where are my bananas anyway)?
Apparently they only produce bananas once then should be cut down and the new one allowed to grow, as they grow on the same root system. Sounds good until you realise that I didn’t know this and have planted one in a small terrace area. Not much space for a crop of trees to grow, be chopped and regrow further along the root system. Oops!
By putting the fibre into a tied up nylon bag before boiling, it makes handling the resulting mush quite easy as the whole thing can be quickly removed from the pot, thereby minimising clean-up and loss of fibre.
Once boiled for 1 1/2 hours – with the addition of some caustic soda to rot away the non-cellulose fibre – I allowed it to cool before removing it from the liquid and rinsing. I know you should rinse until the water runs clear but as I’m now permanently programmed to avoid water wastage I soaked it many times, wrung it out and tipped the water on the plants. No, I never got to the clear running water stage but I can live with some colour run-out.
So here’s where I’m at now: