I thought I had snuck the discarded ripe banana surreptitiously into my purse when a colleague leaned over and whispered "is there something you want to tell me?"
I had not planned on sharing my secret to growing roses but she had caught me trying to sneak off with my secret weapon.
I started experimenting with feeding plants banana peels a few years ago when I read potted tropical hibiscus appreciate getting a banana peel or two dug into their roots every few months.
Bananas are high in potassium, an element roses need to produce chlorophyll and to activate essential enzymes that provide optimal photosynthesis.
A Navy friend who lives in Portland, which has the annual Rose Festival in June with the most amazing flowers, told me the secret to her stunning roses was putting banana peels in the bottom of the hole before she dug in the plant.
Suspecting how well that move would go over with the small herd opossums, raccoons and squirrels in my garden, I decided to dry out the banana peels first.
Well, not really, I happened to toss a banana peel into a compost bucket and completely forgot it was there.
A week or so later, the peel was nicely dried up, which gave me the idea to dry more. Surely a dried banana peel would be less attractive to my wild neighbors and might last longer once tucked into soil.
One day, I started to cut up the banana peel and dry them on a paper towel over little packs of shoe decasent in an open weave basket on top of my refrigerator. The chips were easier to store in glass jars and wax paper cereal bags, and I even toyed with giving them as gifts to friends who were struggling with their roses.
Last year, in the middle of that terrible drought, after feeding my native roses a regular diet of banana chips and periodic handfuls of used coffee grounds, I was regularly sneaking roses out of my garden. Although a bit unorthodox, I use roses to mark where I plant onion bulbs. The onions help keep bugs off rose bushes.
Even my little miniature roses bloomed, although those at first struggled with the heat when I didn't mulch them. One died after being too closely and repeatedly "pruned" by deer.
We also can eat them. Roses are high in Vitamin C, although friends who are treated to a salad with one usually leave it on their plate. That's okay, I prefer to enjoy my roses in a vase, too.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener sharing gardening tips in a changing climate at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.