Growing Backyard Bananas

How good are homegrown bananas! Do you know the best way to harvest them? Many people harvest the whole bunch but that means they all ripen at the same time and you have sooooo many bananas to eat within a week. So I have learnt the best way to harvest is to cut off a “hand” at a time, bring them inside and put them in a bag to ripen. The rest stay green on the plant and ripen slower. These are sugar bananas and have a much sweeter taste than the supermarket Cavendish variety. They’re only just a bit longer than my fingers, short and stumpy (the banana not my fingers haha). 

7 things you need to know about growing your own bananas

1. Banana plants grow from suckers shooting off the base of the mother plant. It can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to see this sucker produce any fruit. Be patient!!

2. They need lots of room to grow, allow 2 to 4 square metres per plant.

3. Banana plants like rich moist soil, so fertilise regularly with compost or make a compost pit nearby.

4. The mother plant will only produce one bunch of fruit, so cut this back to ground level once you’ve harvested the bunch.

Mother plants will only produce one bunch of bananas

5. Plants will produce more suckers than you need and careful pruning is needed to ensure fruit develops. Keep each group to a family of three – one mother plant that has a bunch ripening, one baby sucker and one somewhere in between (the teenager). Cut back everything else. This way your plant will put the energy into developing fruit instead of growing suckers. And you’ll have a succession plan for future bunches.

6. The banana inflorescence is called a “bell” and has many flowers that turn into the bunch of bananas that we eat. They start pointing down but turn and point upwards as they mature. That’s when you should cover the bunch with a banana ripening bag, blue on the shady side, silver on the sunny side of the bunch to reflect the sun and encourage even ripening on both sides.

The edible banana bell contains little flowers that develop into the fruit

7. The bell can be cut off once the bunch has developed so that energy is redirected into the fruit rather than the infertile flowers still in the bell. (My chickens love these little flowers too). You can peel back the layers of the bell and eat the core.

Cleaning your garden tools

Here’s one more tip you need to know. When you harvest home grown bananas, the sugary sap is quite sticky and hard to get off. It doesn’t seem to matter how much soap I use, my hands still feel sticky.⁣ I heard a tip on ABC Gardening Australia years ago that milk is helpful when harvesting bananas. And it works!!!

⁣I wash my hands AND my tools with milk and it gets all that sticky stuff off. ⁣Job done!!⁣

Milk gets off sticky banana sap