Lovely thread! Always good to see some tropical fruits (herbs ;P) being mentioned. I’m also curious as to what your regimen is Richard? In terms of feeding and watering (you don’t appear to mulch).
We have the temperature and most of the rainfall needed for bananas but poor sandy soils for the most part. I had good success the year I graduated from high school (which was also the year my banana obsession began in earnest) by planting in ground, mulching heavily with horse manure (they tolerate fairly strong/raw fertilizer), and then mulching that heavily with seaweed. That was back in 2012 or so.
That was all good and fine, and the manure did the fertilizing, but after going away to university my parents didn’t upkeep that area and it got overgrown and weedy. When I came back last summer I was NOT up for the job or clearing all that out, so I just opted to dig up a Dwarf Cavendish sucker and grow it as a container specimen:
The more I care for it the less crazy getting fruit in this 15 gallon container seems. I also found a nice link where a gentleman has pictures of his Raja Puris fruiting in an 18 gallon aluminum rub, and says his two Raja Puris fruited simultaneously in the same 31 gallon rubbermaid tub.
And so yes, I am definitely growing bananas for fruit!
Glad to have you; I have some rough knowledge of the extensive work you put into developing that brand and so have a great respect for it. I didn’t realize you dabbled in so much other horticultural interests though; nice bio.
speaking of halloween and impending autumn, if there’s anyone growing bananas in much colder regions, and if fruits are borne a little late and worried they may be caught by cold weather, many in the cavendish group will actually ripen even when halfway mature. While those in the plantain group, even though unable to ripen when harvested prematurely, may be deep-fried into mexican style ‘tostones’, but may need a little sugar to sweeten a bit.
Speaking of Cavendish, they are what’s selling at most markets. In my opinion (and most home banana growers) they are bland in comparison to other varieties such as Namwa, Pisang Ceylon, and SH 3640. Just to add to the mix: what is sold as “Goldfinger” and “Ice Cream” at big box stores is actually Namwa. You’ll have to contact a member of the International Banana Society or a knowledgeable member of the CRFG to get the real deal – and they are excellent as well.
When you say “banana” to my team in Uganda, they of course think of matooke, plantain cooking bananas. This fellow is holding two bunches of FHIA bananas, released as disease-resistant and more productive. Without the stalk the bunches can weigh 90 lbs. They steam them in banana leaves, mash them, and eat heaping plates of them with pot beans poured over them.
there are superb varieties in the cavendish group, and hands down(in my opinion that is), the best tasting of all bananas is the lacatan variety. The true lacatan, btw, and not the other ‘lacatan’ being marketed in the west indies.
used to garden in southeast asia, and have grown at least a dozen varieties of bananas, and three varieties of plantains.
The Cavendish subgroup contains bananas with the triploid AAA genome. Normally here in the U.S. when we refer to Cavendish we mean Williams. Lacatan is a cultivar from the Philippines synonymous with Bungulan. Neither of them perform particularly well in the continental U.S. except in southern Florida, but commercial plantations tend to be farther into the tropic zones such as PR and Costa Rica.
My focus is on what bananas can be viably grown here for fruit. And by that I mean something that meets or exceeds the taste of fruits in the stores. In my experience, members of the Cavendish group are not one of these.
Richard, I think they are FHIA-25. The Ugandans pick them green and they have to peel them with a knife like a potato. A bunch like that sells for about $5, and will feed the family for a week. They do grow potatoes (they call them “Irish potatoes”), but it’s a fight against fungal disease; the matooke are way easier to grow. Lately a new starch introduced is “OFSP”, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. They’ve had sweet potatoes as a staple for years, but they are the white ones that lack vitamin A and kids go blind; they’ve promoted OFSP as a way to introduce vitamin A into the diet.
Sorry, forgot to mention we’re growing Blue Java and Manzana trees for fruit here in Riverside, CA, and training them for production. The neighbors have clumps of bananas, which do fruit despite the poor habit.
Yes, Namwa but no other cultivars, yet. I do have some unknown (probably Namwa I’m betting) growing down in the “jungle”, planted by the previous homeowner, but it isn’t getting enough sun due to all the canopy, so not producing. Just looking “tropical”.