Saturday, May 13, 2006

Am I going Bananas?

Bananas, bananas, bananas. This post is completely non-diving related. I helped my wife with cutting down some bananas yesterday to take to a friend of her's. These ones were ripe on the stalk already, usually we will cut them down while they are still green.

About bananas... the banana plants we have here in Hawaii can range anywhere from say 4 to 25 feet or more tall, depending on species. We've got at least 4 species of banana (williams, dwarf cavendish, apple and cuban reds) in the yard. Each has it's own taste. The williams and dwarf cavendish are more along the lines of your typical store bought banana, the apples and cubans are different, and tastier. The apples will have an apple after taste, the cubans have orange meat and are delicious. The williams I picked up by accident when I was purchasing a mislabeled "ice cream" banana, which has a vanilla ice cream aftertaste. You'd be amazed at how many species of banana there actually are - you can check out
Stoke's Tropicals for a good selection, many of which will grow in many parts of the continental US.

Bananas are technically an herb, not a tree. All's you really need to grow them well is a pile of compost and a starter plant. We had several sickly ones on our property basically growing out of rock and poor dirt when we moved in, I loaded 'em up with greenwaste compost and they took off. A banana plant will typically take about a year and a half to fruit, prior to fruiting it will send out keikis (Hawaiian for children, kids and such), usually 2 or 3 per plant if they're happy. They'll send out a flower and then start showing the fruit. After the fruit is up to size you cut down the plant and remove the bunch, they only fruit once. The keikis will become full fledged fruiting banana plants in a year and a half or so... you just throw the old trunk back in the spot to compost down and feed future plants.
Now that you have a green bunch of bananas, you just hang them and they will ripen. You can eat them at your leisure and then they'll all go bad at once and make a great attractant for small birds and critters.




Robert said...

Thanks for the info Steve,I was looking for fruit or other food producing plants to consider planting on a lot in Hove.I thought bananas need a lot of water...Is this true or would they grow in S Kona?

Steve said...

You can't specify whether anything will grow in a particular region wthout being specific to the location. In my part of South Kona, bananas do well. HOVE which is just outside of South Kona, in Kau, is quite a varied subdivision. Much of it is solid rock and nothing grows. People often truck in dirt just to have lawns or plants, I'm not sure on the rain situation, but I bet it depends on elevation and topography. You'd really have to know the specifics of the lot to determine if bananas will do well there without a lot of help.