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Sunday
May162010

Backyard Bananas

Lately we’ve raised many an eyebrow with our impressive bunches of homegrown bananas. Most people are really surprised to discover that bananas grow in Wollongong. In our subtropical frost free climate they can really thrive with a bit of care and strategic placement.

We grow mainly Cavendish bananas, which are the same kind you’ll find in the fruit market. Wollongong is not commercial banana growing country so there are no restrictions on growing bananas in your backyard like there are in areas of Queensland (see http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/horticulture/5201.html for details).

We planted our first bananas in December 2007...

And in just over two years, in March this year, we enjoyed our first crop of organic bananas. Compared to store bought bananas, our bananas were much sweeter and more yellow on the inside. The photo below shows a store bought banana on the left, and ours on the right - of course we have no bias here!

Off our first bunch of bananas we got about 150 bananas!  As well as sharing the banana love with family and friends, and making lots of banana cake, our freezer is full of trays of bananas, which are just divine when blended up in fruit smoothies.

Once established bananas will keep producing fruit forever (well for a really long time!), so we reckon they’re a must for every subtropical backyard.   Its no surprise that our best banana bunches at our place come from the ones that are getting fed our greywater and greenwaste from the vegie beds so keep this in mind if you are growing your own.

Reader Comments (18)

I was wondering where you got your original plants. Was it local, or did you have them shipped from interstate?

May 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Great to see the bananas are going so well guys!! They look amazing. Are they from the banana suckers you got from our yard? Really cant wait to come back and share some smoothies with you!

May 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjen

We bought them from Bunnings who now sell the cavendish variety which was unavailable in the past. Although not as tasty as the more common dwarf variety around here, the size of the bunch and individual bananas is of commercial quantity.

Jen, the bananas we took for your garden are at the local north 'gong community garden - and thriving!

May 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth

Wow, your bananas look great! I love frozen bananas for smoothies in Summer (not so much right now while it's so cold!), my favourite flavours are banana and peanut butter (with macadamia butter is also great), and banana and lucuma powder - I just make them on a soy milk base.

We are trying to grow bananas too but haven't given them any TLC to get them to grow properly - it's one of those jobs we never find time for. They are alive and have some first leaves, but seem to have gotten shorter. We need to clear the grass from around the bottom of them so that they have the space they need to grow.

ALTHOUGH, our neglected veggie patch is doing better than ever, with a hedgerow of basil, huge lively lavender bush (just came into flower for the first time!), and a surprise tomato bush which is sturdy and bearing lots of green fruit - I don't even remember planting this at all, and it is coming up from under the lavender. I also just discovered some rosemary growing underneath - I planted this long ago but it seemed to have died off. It's looking really well!

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie (Brisbane)

I got inspired by your posts and went and planted some bananas too. Any tips on water, soil, position etc for the Wollongong climate?

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHelensburger

Banana and peanut butter smoothies .. that sounds interesting Jamie - might give that a go!

Hey Helensburger, Position bananas so that they are protected from the westerly winds would be ideal. The richer the soil and the more water your plant gets the bigger the bunch it will yield for you. Our best bananas grow in a circular pit which which we throw in green waste and divert water from the washing machines

May 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth

Those bananas look great! How often do they grow? Is it just continuous or a couple of times a year?

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercityhippyfarmgirl

Hi guys - you really make this look easy, but i am on the way to sustainability and it's hard to do with full time work and kids etc. Hats off to you! Have you any apples trees down there? just interested as our climate is similar (Warriewood/Sydney northern beaches) cheers Gareth

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Hi Gareth - we do grow tropical apples. Only put in last year so too early to comment on how well they go here in Wollongong. I do know of some at a local community garden that grow the same variety as us and they taste and fruit well

May 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth

Hi there, I just found your site and it looks as though you have some great info here. I will be following along from my little garden in the tropics north of Cairns. Your bananas look fabulous, unfortunately we cant grow them here, as we live right next to a banana farm, but have managed to create a nice little garden.

May 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

Thanks for your lovely comments Gillian. Shame you can'r grow bannanas where you are, but it's great to hear you have a thriving little garden!

Cityhippyfarmgirl, banana are a perennial, so you keep getting fruit from the clump, but as each stem fruits, it dies and is then replaced by the young suckers coming up. The rate at which you get bunches of bananas depends on how big the clump of bananas is, and how tropical your climate is - they do love the more hot and humid weather!

May 27, 2010 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth

Thanks for the response.. i put in a dwarf pink lady and dwrf granny smith last year based on their supposed low chill requirements. If I have any success i'll let you know -the site is looking great by the way - good lluck with the green wedding! cheers

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Hi
I live in Qld and realise there are restrictions on growing bananas in backyards here. We want to grow Lady Finger (sugar) bananas, but don't know anyone from whom we can acquire some suckers. The nurseries don't sell them. Any clues guys?

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHen

Hen, I live in brisbane and have a few dwarf ducats going great guns. The plant is about half the height of a normal banana but the fruit is the same. To get banana plants in old you need to apply through the dpi they will then send you a list of mail order suppliers. The plants I got were $20 each including postage. The whole process took less than a week.

March 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason
The photo below shows a store bought banana on the left, and ours on the right - of course we have no bias here!
http://www.club-penguin.org/
August 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary
4 years ago I planted the saddest $1 special near dead banana from the Fairy Meadow nursery into my garden in Woonona. To my absolute amazement this morning I noticed my first ever bananas...YAY!!! Now, I'm in new territory...do I need to cover them with netting when all the covers? have fallen off? My second surprise was finding your website, your garden looks great...both very inspiring.
December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
Thats really exciting Jennifer ... shouldn't need to cover them, although sometimes a banana bag can help with ripening and protecting them if need be.

Glad you like the website :)
January 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth
Hi there...just found your site from googling how to ripen home grown bananas...I am about an hour north from you in SW Sydney...our first banana bunch crashed after the tree fell over.. our second bunch is still on the tree and not sure whether we should take them off to ripen now the weather is getting cold? They are small and can't remember the variety purchased..maybe they are lady fingers by the size. Also read n your comments about growing apples in Wollongong...my mum lived in dapto and we had 2 apple trees in the back yard...one Granny Smith and the other was a red one (cant remember the variety)..They grew well and fruited well, especially the Granny...
June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

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