Banana | Growing and Fertilizing tips

Banana groove
Banana Groove

In India traditions and festivals will be incomplete without its fruits and leaves. Be it Hindu culture, Parsi, Jain traditions, or the cuisine in South India and famous food serving style all of this will be incomplete without this very plant, “The Banana”. 

In Indian culture, they are placed at venue entrance of Grihapravesha, Marriage and other religious functions. Banana plants symbolizes fertility and is considered auspicious. They are equated to Devaguru Brihaspati (Planet Jupiter) and Lord Vishnu.

Traditions apart, Banana is the power house of quick release carbohydrates required during or after heavy workout. Not only vital carobs, it is also rich in minerals like Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium etc and is not limited to these there are other host of other health benefits that come along with this humble fruit. If you have space it is one of the must grow plant species.

Index

Introduction

South Indian Vegetarion food served on freshly cut and washed Banana leaf
World famous Indian custom of serving vegetarian food on freshly cut and washed Banana leaf. This form of serving food is a good practice in hygiene during food serving, these leaves are disposed after single use, they pose least amount of risk of pathogen transfer from one user to other, they are eco friendly and help to recycle natural resources thus reducing carbon foot print.

Believe it or not Banana is technically (or Botanically) a berry of the Genus Musa. It is also the largest herbaceous flowering plant. In simple words Banana is actually World’s largest herb. Plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy, and are often mistaken for trees, but what appears to be a trunk is actually a “false stem” or pseudo-stem. Bananas grow in a wide variety of soils, as long as the soil is at least 60 cm deep, has good drainage and is not compacted. 

Banana equivalent radiation dose

As with all potassium-containing objects on Earth, including many common foods and people, bananas emit radioactivity at very low levels occurring naturally from potassium-40 (40K or K-40), which is one of several isotopes of potassium. The banana equivalent dose of radiation was developed in 1995 as a simple teaching-tool to educate the public about the natural, small amount of K-40 radiation occurring in every human and in common foods – where the banana was used as an example. The radiation exposure from consuming one banana is approximately 1% of the average daily exposure to radiation.

Patra ni Machhi in Banana leaf
Patra Ni Machhi, a Parsi Delicacy involving cooking fish with green chutney and spices covered in Banana leaf, it is cooked in red hot charcoal.

Soil, climate, watering and soil pH

Banana groove
Banana Farm

We now know that Banana is a herb. Banana can be grown over a large variety of soils ranging from Deep to rich loamy the conditions for qualifying as a good soil for Banana is it should have good drainage, adequate fertility and moisture. A soil that is not too acidic & not too alkaline, rich in organic material with high nitrogen content, adequate phosphorus level and plenty of potash are good for banana.

Bananas thrive in warm, humid conditions. When temperatures drop, growth slows down, and very cold temperatures cause plants to die back.

Since banana trees are tropical and originate in rain forests, they need a lot of water and plenty of moisture in the air. They do best when planted in groups rather than as single specimens. Planting close together helps retain moisture in the leaves. Provide 1 or 2 inches of water weekly and check frequently to make certain the soil stays evenly moist. Avoid over-watering which can cause root rot. The soil should be moist but not soggy at all times, if possible.

Like all herbs Banana also loves soil pH ranging from 6 to 7.5.

 

Growing Banana

Banana plant with Corm and new daughter plant emerging from corm.

These plants are monoecious—meaning the plant has both the male and female reproductive organs in the same individual plant. There also may be neutered flowers. Bananas are classified as a berry, and the fruit actually comes from the female flowers, which, strangely enough, develop without pollination. The seeds of bananas may not be fertile.

 

The best method of propagation is division. To divide banana plants, separate the suckers or pups from the rhizome using a very sharp spade and quite a bit of strength. Before you do this, wait until the pups (or suckers) are at least 3 feet tall and have their own roots. Make sure there are several pups before you take any suckers off, so it does not unbalance the original plant. When dividing, make sure the suckers have plenty of roots to get a good start when replanted.

 

Once you separate the sucker from the parent plant, allow the surface of the rhizome section to dry for a day or so. At this point, it will be ready for replanting in any desired location.

 

Growing in Containers

Banana trees will grow in containers but need at least 15-gallon pots as the minimum size for optimum growth. When it is in a container, you can have complete control over the plant’s environment. You should be able to protect it better in cold and inclement weather.

 

These are very hungry and thirsty plants and you may find it difficult to keep up with the feeding and watering requirements when growing them in pots

 

Repot and divide container grown banana plants at least once every three years. Use a very high quality potting mix and make sure to fertilize regularly.

Diagram of Banana plant showing all the parts

Fertilizer needs

Banana plants are heavy feeders and require monthly application of fertilizers rich in Nitrogen or at best any organic fertilizer with balanced nutrition. To conserve nutrition soil must be mulched with organic mulch like garden leaves. Fertilizers most suited for use with Banana plant are listed below.

Rock Phosphate

Phosphorite, phosphate rock or rock phosphate is a non-detrital sedimentary rock which contains high amounts of phosphate minerals is one of the allowed components of organic fertilizer regime. The phosphate content of phosphorite varies greatly, from 4% to 30% phosphorus pentoxide. Marketed phosphate rock is enriched to at least 30%, often more than 30% P₂O₅.  Phosphorus is vital for the development of Good roots, flowers and fruits. Rock phosphate is used when preparing beds for plants or during repoting of plants.

Mustard Oil cake

Mustard Oil cake is an organic fertilizer which is also a traditional Indian fertilizer. Typical NPK ratio of Mustard oil cake stands at 4-1-1. Mustard oil cakes are a very good source of organic Magnesium, Sulphur, Manganese and Zinc among other trace elements. Mustard oil cake powder can be used to make fertilizer tea which can then be used to irrigate the plants and also provide nutrition.

Castor Seed Meal

Castor Seed meal is Nitrogen rich fertilizer with typical NPK ratio at 4-1-1. Castor seed meal can be used when you want to maintain the pH of the soil. This is a dense source of Nitrogen and can supply 12 times more nitrogen as compared to Cow dung of similar quantity. Good source of food for soil bacteria, Earth worms, etc. Castor seed meal can be combined with other fertilizers to make a custom mix. Can be used for established lawns.

Castor Clay | Sampoorna Series

Castor-Clay is a member of Sampoorna series of dual use fertilizer blends that have been based on Oil seed meal fortified with various exotic natural minerals for a holistic approach to plant nutrition. More than providing nutrition to plants this blend as per Ecotika’s design philosophy takes care of soil health.

To cater to maintaining and promoting soil health, this blend for the first time incorporates a special blend of Montmorillonite clays. They, boost water holding capacity, increase CEC and thus increase nutrient holding capacity, harbor vital soil bacteria and Fungi that ensures living soil.

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