Bananas

Health Power

Excellent source and high doses of potassium, vitamin C and fiber at low cost with low sodium, fat and cholesterol. Potassium essential for nerve and muscle functions and to control blood pressure. High fiber promotes healthy heart, lowers total cholesterol, adds bulk to stool and speeds up digestive process. Fiber also helps regulate blood sugars by holding onto carbohydrates in intestine and slowing down absorption of sugar into blood system, which lowers stress on insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Special banana fiber, pectin, promotes normal digestion and nutrient absorption. Promotes stomach health by building strong inner lining and eliminating ulcer-causing bacteria. Bananas have compounds (fructooligosaccharides and short-chain fatty acids) that feed helpful intestinal bacteria.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – B6 (Pyridoxine) and C
Minerals – Potassium and Manganese

Disease Prevention

May help reduce symptoms or onset of atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, ulcers, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Bananas, like cabbage and other root vegetables, have high concentrations of phenolic compounds that help reduce cancer in animals, possibly in humans.

How to Grow

Many varieties. (If above zone 10, choose cultivar that tolerates cooler temp.) Fruit develops best with long, humid, warm growing season. Misting leaves morning and evening helps nurture. Choose warm site with dark, highly fertile, well-drained soil and full day’s sun. Needs shelter from wind. Plant is self-fertile; only one plant needed to bear fruit. Local nursery usually has banana suckers or baby trees in containers. Plant trees in well-amended soil 10 feet apart (or more depending on how large cultivar grows). Keep soil moist throughout growth, but avoid standing water. Adding fertilizer (compost tea, manure tea or other) helps meet high demand for nutrients. Many suckers sprout from base to create more plants. Prune off all but one or two to concentrate energy for fruiting. Control weeds by hand pulling and laying down compost mulch or other material to retain moisture and deter weeds. Takes 9 months to fully plump up and ready for harvest. Although green, will ripen to yellow. Need little pruning to remove dead plant matter. After harvesting, cut down banana tree, leaving sucker that produced bananas. It develops into new tree to renew growing process.

Insect Control

Pests will differ depending on the area where you grow. Banana aphids, spider mites, weevils, rose beetles, flower and red rust thrips, whitefly and mealy bugs. Talk with nursery to see what may cause local problems and how to treat.

Tips

After 6 months, when flower opens and male fingers fall to the ground, remove purple flowers and stem about 6-8 inches below last female fingers. (Fingers become bananas.) Growing bananas in cooler climates may be risky, as frost kills growth above ground. To protect from freezing, cut down plant and cover with mulch and sheet of black polypropylene.

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