June 30, 2009

A Banana Tree in Your Home Garden

The bunch seems to be diminutive and the fruit shriveled – reason I forgot to cut the flower as and when my mother told me to.

Growing a banana tree that produces a health yield is very easy if you know how to go about it…
Here are some tips from my farmer uncles. Before you plant -

1. Dig a pit 1 ½ to 2 feet deep – the pit has to be really deep - otherwise the tree is not sufficiently anchored to bear the weight of the heavy fruit.
2. Leave the pit open for a couple of days. Let it have a good sun bath.
3. Select a healthy sucker – one that has a well developed rhizome.
4. Plant the sucker. Half fill the pit with well rotted manure (FYM – Farm Yard Manure or cow dung), leaf manure or wood ash. Fill the other half with the soil you dug out of the pit. Use the excess soil left from the pit to build a small bund around the tree.
5.Dig a ridge all around about 2 feet away from the tree and the soil thus removed can be kept on the side of the ridge away from the tree – to be used for further banking the tree when it bears fruit.
6. The plant has to be watered on alternate days.
7. You can apply more Farm Yard Manure after 6 months and again after 8 months.
8. Bank the tree some more after each application of manure.
9. As a general rule, your tree should yield fruit in about 10 months.
10. Once the bunch has formed and the flowers start falling without more bananas forming, the flower has to be removed – this ensures bigger fruit and fuller bunches.
11. You get only one harvest from each banana plant. After the bunch is harvested , cut down the tree leaving a stump about 1 feet above the ground.
12. The tender stem in the middle layer of the trunk is used in cooking.

Each tree bears fruit just once.
1. Frequently harvesting leaves from the tree will result in poor flowering and fruit setting.
2. If you must harvest leaves, then do it from only one of the daughter plants that shoot up around the mother plant letting the others grow unhampered.
3. Don’t let more than 3 daughter plants (tillers) grow around the mother plant; this will impede the growth of the main plant. One of these daughter plants can be the new mother plant after the mother plant is harvested.
4. The tree might start leaning to one side with the weight of the fruit. Bank the base of the tree with some more soil and support the fruit with a sturdy pole.

This particular tree took its own sweet time (about 20 months) to bear fruit. But then, the soil condition is really bad and this is my first banana tree. I am hoping to do better next time.