Monday, 20 October 2014

Going bananas

As a long-term resident of Thailand during the first 10 years or so of this century I am well used to seeing bananas. My father-in-law has several different varieties in his garden. On my return to the UK I thought it might be fun to see if I can grow a banana or two here in England.

I tried to buy a variety that would live outdoors in the UK perhaps Musa basjoo, however, there were none left at my usual Dutch plant supplier. Then in May I saw some small banana plants in 5" pots for sale in my local branch of Lidl, a German-owned supermarket. I bought two for £5.00 and put them in my conservatory as they were not a hardy variety. After a few days it became obvious that were going to grow at a prodigious rate. I potted them into 12" pots and detached a few pups at the same time. The pups are now the size of the originals and the parents are looking really quite impressive. They were labelled as Musa acuminata 'Tropicana' and appear to be a dwarf Cavendish related strain, at least I hope they are 'dwarf'. The Cavendish is the main banana we eat here in Europe, and indeed North America. I've seen huge plantations of them in The Canary Islands and some of the plants towered above me. Probably no hope of them setting fruit here in York, but you never know.

At the moment they are outdoors enjoying our unseasonally mild autumn weather. I'll bring them in when the temperature consistently drops below about 12 degrees centigrade.

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