Hi. I am new to growing bananas. My first tree has only been in the ground since summer. It's a dwarf ducasse. My banana tree was getting plenty of summer sun but is getting less and less sun as we head towards winter. At this rate it will be fully shaded out by winter. Will it be OK or should I plan on moving my banana patch somewhere where it will get a little more sun in winter. Sun is at a premium at my place. Much of my yard is shaded out come winter so I would prefer to keep my full sun all year round areas for those plants that really need it.
Most edibles prefer some hours of full sun per day year round. Exceptions are Blueberries which prefer dappled sun/light shade.
Have grown dwarf Ducasse - not-so-dwarf, 'throat' (where leaves join the main stem) is about 6-8 feet above ground. The bunch is around 40kilos and is quite something to handle especially for we old boilers.
Thinking long and hard about what we eat, what we can and cannot buy locally, we've trimmed down our selections. And one-of-these, one-of-those often doesn't give you much crop. Strawberries for example, one plant will give you maybe a punnet's worth of fruit over the 6-month season, so you'll need a couple of dozen at least to give two people a small meal twice a week if that. Ditto Blueberries which ripen their crop over an extended period and have to be picked and re-picked again and again. From 7 plants my largest pick was 800grams and every pick before and after was much less than that.
Bananas give you 1 bunch per year. They take up quite some space given the stool expands by the year so growing them in a pot for instance, is not really an option. You can get pups from the main plant after it has produced its first bunch. Those you can plant anywhere else that suits. And pups taken at about the same time will give you a bunch at about the same time so you go from no Bananas to 80kgs of Bananas in a couple of weeks. Logistically that is a challenge. Drying is a good option if you have a large enough dehydrator.
After a while you can make an assessment of what is growing well, what you prefer to eat and how much space this or that plant takes up. Plus how much fussing each plant needs to give you a decent crop. As we've seen with the Avocado discussion, there's a spread of views and results and mostly you've got to try first then decide. Every yard is different.
Hi Elaine. Yes that's what I am in the process of doing and I will likely end up cutting my selection back to what's not too much maintenance. Hoping things will get easier when my children who are aged 3 and 5 are a little older. Are your blueberries in pots or in the ground? Was that 800g for the entire season? Small harvest over a long period suit me as I would be happy with enough for the kids to go out and have a snack and I hate all the packaging that comes with buying little punnets. Tho we can never have enough strawberries. My dad used to grow just about everything (he even tried durian but no fruit as its not tropical enough) and he now just has a selection of things like citrus asparagus eggplant blueberries.
The decisions about what to grow is an ongoing process. I've only been at it for 50 years ;-)
Blueberries: mine were in 60L wicking bins with Sulphur added to the neutral mix. The 800g was from 7 plants and was the peak harvest on one day. You'll get 2 or 3 berries ripe enough to eat per plant per day max. And they need to fall off in your hand - if you have to tug them, they will be tart; they don't ripen after harvest (same as Pineapple and Dragon Fruit oh and Figs too). The Blueberries have been relocated to another suburb.
So you didn't find the blueberries worth keeping? My soil tested neutral too (including the ones in azalea potting mix, to my surprise) i am going to need lots more sulfur. Bunnings sell it in silly little bottles. Have seen it at produce merchant but in 20kg bags!
Twenty kilos of Sulphur is a tad over the top! We had a produce store at Rothwell who sold it and lots of other useful stuff in whatever-kilos you wanted. The owners cashed in their super and the site's levelled and something else is going up. There's a sort-of successor locally but I don't know exactly what they sell; anyway Rothwell is a bit far for a kilo of sulphur! Are you anywhere near Capalaba? I hear there is a produce store there but don't know any details.
The Blueberries and their attendant fiddlyness drove me nuts so I found new homes for them. I know why they are so expensive to buy - there is absolute drudgery in finding and picking the ripest berries day after day. So many dropped off and were lost if I didn't go and check them daily.
It's a bit like that with Strawberries but I prefer Strawberries to Blueberries and the fruit is much easier to see at a glance what is ripe and what is not.
Angela, I have a very shady backyard in the depths of winter as well - thankfully that's not too long. I have three stands of bananas at my place and the ones that are growing best definitely get the most sun. But all of mine had semi shade until they got tall enough to find the sun between and above other plants. Plant placement certainly is a challenge on suburban blocks.
Thanks Cathie. Did you get some fruit? My concern is more that they will get attacked by pests and disease if they don't get enough sun. I don't need 40kg of fruit at a time. So long as I get a few bunches I will be happy. I have these really large tubs left by the last owners. They are at least 150litres or so. Could try shovelling in dirt from the chook run and get an extra tree growing. Might just have room on the concrete up the back. The shade is really annoying. Some comes from the neighbours trees and last year he was kind enough to offer to get his gardener to cut them back for me. Those trees have since regrown. Could ask if his gardener can do it. If he has a really long here trimmer might not be too hard. I just hate to be such a pest.
Apart from growing a smaller-bunched variety, the only other way to get just a few hands of Bananas is to remove the excess hands before they grow too big. Then you could have say 10kg of fruit from one tree and that tree takes up just as much space for the same time as one maturing 40kg of fruit. And that's the size of a dwarf Ducasse bunch: around 40kg. If you check the Blue Sky website, they have smaller-bunched varieties available from time to time.
Garden soil in pots tends to compact that's why the advice is to use a potting mix which will stay open. 150L might be a little small for a Banana stool.
Bluesky bananas says dwarf ducasse bunch weight is 20 to 25 kilos. My daughter adores bananas. How long do the bananas keep on the tree?
Ah well I have never been able to weigh the bunch. Read it somewhere :-\ Whatever the weight for we old boilers, it was too much for us. The dwarf Ducasses I had would bend right over with the bunch touching the ground. Given the thickness of their stems, I was surprised at this result but every one did the same. Meaning we had to take the bunch whether it was ripe enough or not coz next thing the fruit would be crushed.
As well I found their fruit so close together I could not get a strong enough knife in between the hands to take them off as Susan does with the Goldfinger.
I have since read of a simpler system for harvesting bananas. With a machete or cane knife, chop into the stem as you would in felling a tree and the bunch comes down to working height. Then cut the bunch off. That supposes that the tall stems don't bend by themselves as the Ducasse did. The Ladyfingers I grew an aeon ago were tall and never bent over but being a lot younger and not knowing about the simple way to harvest a bunch, I shinnyed up a ladder and tottered under the weight of the bunch on the way down. Without a dehydrator in those days nor knowing I could freeze them, I ate an awful lot of fresh Bananas as did the dogs and my neighbours. It was fun just the same!
Interesting Elaine. Will have to see how it goes with harvesting. Lucky the tree is planted next to a fence post so I can easily tie the tree.
I have been growing banana's very successfully for the last couple of years. Mine are down the side of the driveway and are quite packed in against a 6ft high wooden fence. So while they get full sun, the babies do not as they are shaded out until they get tall enough to reach the sun. What is causing your shade? If it is a lowset house, even your dwarf ducasse should grow high enough to seek the sun and as long as the crown (top leaves) get sunlight, you will be fine.
My main variety that I grow is the goldfinger and while they grow quite tall, they send out enormous bunches (90+ bananas) and end up bending right down to a managable height. I start snipping off a hand at a time to ripen indoors so I don't get a glut of 90 -> it is spread out over 6 weeks of eating. The first hand will take up to 2 weeks but once you are successively harvesting and the outdoor bunch gets closer to its actual ripening time, this gets faster. The last lot I harvested only took 5 days to ripen. This will give you an idea of the size and just how far they bend down - entirely manageable.
I also was growing lady fingers but they were taller than the goldfinger and the bunches not as large (30-40 bananas) so would stay upright - those I DID find hard to manage as I would have to drag a ladder out every time I wanted to harvest. I have replaced with the dwarf Ducasse so I will be interested in the size and height of the bunches - hopefully they will be as manageable as the goldfinger.
I have 3 kids at home who love banana's and any excess gets dried or frozen (for smoothies) which are also loved so it is entirely worth it for me to grow banana's. It still plays in the back of my mind when Cyclone Ita (?) went through and banana's were $20 a kilo. Plus they are pest free, hassle free and grow prolifically in the subtropics. Energy dense food also plays in my mind (you know, just in case there is a Zombie Apocalypse :)
To me, Totally worth it.