This morning I received a rather exciting phone call from Jim, saying that he had left two banana plants on my front porch. One is for me and the other for a friend.
Jim is a lovely gentleman who recently began attending Essential Edibles, the monthly food swap I coordinate. He is a passionate food gardener who freely and generously shares his skills and expertise.
Until recently, I didn’t know that you could grow bananas successfully in Adelaide. As tropical plants, I thought they required higher humidity, rainfall and soil temperatures than are available here. But Jim assured me that he has grown bananas successfully for many years, and even better, he was willing to help me get started growing bananas too.
Here are the tips Jim gave me to help my banana plant grow and flourish.
Jim’s tips for growing bananas
- Bananas are the garbage disposal units of the plant world. Bananas are heavy but not fussy feeders. Jim suggested that I line the bottom of the hole I planted my banana in with chopped fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves or coffee grinds — the sorts of thing I would normally put in my worm farm. I did that, and once the banana was planted and the hole filled in, I added a layer of well-rotted chicken poo and a mulch of pea straw.
- Banana plants aren’t fussy about water quality. According to Jim, you can give banana plants almost any kind of grey water and they will thrive. This is good to know when growing a tropical plant in a low rainfall area like Adelaide.
- So long as the soil temperature is above the 7 to 9 degree mark (celsius), bananas can continue to flower and fruit, even in winter.
- You don’t need to harvest all your bananas at once. A stem of bananas has up to 150 pieces of fruit, and if you harvest them all at the same time, you’ll have more bananas than you can possibly eat. Instead, cut smaller hands of bananas from the larger bunches as you wish to eat them.
Did you know?
- The banana plant is not a tree but a large herb with a succulent stem, and the fruit is technically a berry.
- If you wish to grow the Cavendish variety of banana in Australia, then you should purchase your rhizomes or suckers from an authorised source to ensure that they are disease free.
- Bananas are ready to harvest 8-10 months after planting and can be planted at any time of year.
- Banana hands are harvested green and will ripen faster if placed in a brown paper bag.