I won’t buy bananas because they’re so easy to grow!
I won’t buy them, I just won’t. We usually have bananas and bananas to spare on any given day. We give them away, we feed them to the cows and chickens. Our dogs even like bananas on some occasions!
Bananas growing in Haiku, Maui
Here in Hawaii the bananas are different than what you’ll find in most mainland grocery stores. The best kind are called Apple Bananas, and they are shorter and a little firmer, and very sweet. Once you eat them, you’ll never be satisfied again with the commercial variety. The most desirable plants are the Short Apple Bananas as they won’t get too tall, making them more stable and easier to cut down.
You’ll see banana plants growing in almost every location on this island, but at the higher elevations it is a little challenging to get them to make fruit. Haiku has the perfect climate for growing beautiful bananas. They like water and sunshine, and lots of space. Can you spot a bunch of bananas in the picture below?
A banana patch in Haiku, Maui
How Do They Grow?
A banana plant will produce more “keiki” plants around the base, and is continually adding more new shoots, which will grow to become new stalks. After a few years, it becomes a patch of banana plants, and needs to be thinned out from time to time.
You can do this with the help of some heavy equipment to dig up the root balls and separate them into individual plants for replanting somewhere else. This is the normal way of reproducing banana plants, as they typically don’t make seeds. They grow so easily in Haiku that you don’t even have to dig a hole to plant them, but if you have the ability, dig a nice hole and add some rich compost to each plant.
Every stalk produces a banana flower, actually a cluster of small flowers, which gets pollinated to become a bunch of bananas. Pretty soon you’ll have a big bunch of green bananas getting fatter and heavier on the stalk. If they get too heavy they can fall over, or get blown down in high winds. You may even see some exceptional bunches propped up with poles or 2×4’s.
How Do You Harvest Them?
The time to cut them down is when they start turning yellow, before the wildlife start eating them. Grab your machete and take a few big swings at the “trunk” of the plant, enough to chop it in half. Quickly grab hold of the long flower end so the bananas don’t get too damaged if they hit the ground. You’ll get the hang of it after a few times!
Don’t get any of that sticky sap on your clothes as it will stain forever, and it’s not easy to wash off your skin either. Chop up the trunk and debris, and throw it all back around the plants for mulch. Separate the bananas into “hands” for easy handling and spray them off with the hose. Now they’re ready to box up and distribute to all your friends!
Harvesting bananas in Haiku, Maui
What Can You Do With Bananas?
Besides just eating them fresh, try cooking with them:
- banana bread, cakes, and cookies
- banana crisp – you need to try this at Mama’s Fish House and then you’ll be hooked
- grilled on the barbecue – sliced in half lengthwise right in the skin
- Bananas Foster
- pancakes – mash some up right into the batter!
Banana crisp at Mama’s Fish House
If you’re ready to start growing your own bananas and other fruits, maybe you should buy a home in Haiku, Maui. Let me know if I can help you with that search as Haiku is where I work and play.
Georgie Hunter, R(S), e-Pro
Direct: 808 283-0635