Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world. Bananas don’t grow on trees. Rather they grow from a root structure that produces an above ground stem. The plant is specifically classified as an arborescent perennial herb. It is the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world, which grows up to 15 meters long. It is said that there are almost 1000 varieties of bananas grown worldwide. Most common variety is Cavendish variety grown more than 150 countries.
Over 100 billion bananas are consumed annually in the world, making bananas the 4th largest agricultural product in the world following wheat, rice and corn. Bananas are one of the healthier natural food sources in the world. They are very low in calories and are high in vitamin B6, fiber & potassium. They also contain decent amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, K Niacin & Pantothenic Acid.
Plantain (Banana) grows well in tropical region. They prefer warm and humid weather. They can be cultivated in a temperature range of 10°C and 40°C with high humidity. Bananas yields higher when temperatures are above 24°C for a considerable period. Plantain prefers full sun to partial shade and will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.
Plantain is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions and can be sown outdoors directly in mid-spring, or start indoors in early spring and transplant outdoors in late spring. To plant a banana, remove a 12 inch side shoot from the main banana tree. Make sure you separate them carefully using a pruning knife. Before you separate the shoot, prepare the location for planting the banana. Choose a location where there’s a direct sunlight with a loamy soil having a good drainage area.
Dig a hole as deep as to accommodate the shoot’s rhizome. Plant the separated banana shoot carefully into the hole make sure not to damage the rhizome. Back fill the hole with the loosened soil and tamp the soil down with your hand. Apply a 2 inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the newly planted plantain shoot. Water the soil to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Plantains need constantly moist soil. This plant requires a large amount of water during warm climate apply at least 2 inch water everyday but ensure they drain well.
Feed your plant at least once in a month especially at blooming period. Use good balanced fertilizer like 5-5-5 or 10-10-10. Do not fertilize in winter climate. Bananas are heavy feeders so feed them plenty of nitrogen and potassium. Apply chicken manure.
Prune most of the suckers, as they take away nutrients and moisture from the plant. Remove all excess shoots from the parent, let the shoots grow 4 leaves and then remove from its parent plant. This will help the plant to grow healthy and concentrate on their flowers and fruits.
Each plantain blooms only one single flower, once the plant bear fruit the plant intend to die. You can harvest when the fruit changes its color to light yellow from dark green. Carefully cut the bunch of banana and keep them in a dry place to fully ripe. You can eat the fully ripe banana or use the raw plantain as vegetable.
The entire plantain is used in few countries. Its leaves are used as plates, its raw plantain, stem and flower used as vegetable. Its stem is also used to make rope.