Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Speedy banana

Plants grow fast in Brazil, but few grow faster than the banana. The plant you see here sprouted from bare earth covered with several cm of gravel, reaching 70 cm tall in just 10 days!

The banana you bought in the supermarket probably didn´t grow like this, as most commercial varieties are seedless. You can take suckers from the base of the plant, simply lopping them off with a spade when they´re about 3 ft tall and planting them somewhere else, and this works fine for small holdings. But these days large plantations mostly plant seedlings grown by micropropagation, which can be generated in large numbers and, importantly, certified disease free.

Banana plants are greedy, they need lots of food, water and heat, but with this they grow very vigorously indeed. In plantations, bananas are usually picked when green and unripe, as they transport better that way, and can be ripened later. You can wait and pick then from the tree of course but be warned, it isn´t a myth about monkeys and bananas - given the chance they´ll eat the fruit before you have the chance to!

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