According to some horticulturists, they believe bananas were the first fruit on earth and can trace their origins to Southeast Asia. Many varieties of this popular fruit can be found in the jungles and farms in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
If you have the space in your backyard, plant a banana tree or two and within nine months, you’ll get to taste the fruits of your labour. Having a lifespan of one year and being a perennial plant, it replaces itself after the mother plant dies.
Interestingly enough besides simply producing fruits, every part of the banana tree is useful and each part has its specific uses and health benefits.
The Banana Fruit
Bananas are a wonderful source of vitamins A, B6, C and D, and also contain manganese, potassium and soluble fibre. Sweet in taste, bananas can increase your focusing power and mental acuity. It also aids in digestion, acts as an aphrodisiac, helps improve taste sensation and has laxative properties. Apart from eating the fruit plain as is, you can also enjoy tea time snacks by making your own fried bananas, banana cakes and banana desserts.
The Banana stem
The stem of the banana tree is composed of a series of concentric half and three-quarter circles and is used in curries. You can also squeeze the juice out of the stem and just drink it plain. Having numerous health benefits, the stem can help in reducing and regulating blood pressure. Its juice also acts as a diuretic, cleansing the urinary tract and flushing out toxins from your body.
The Banana Heart
The teardrop-shaped purple flower at the end of a fruit cluster is known as the banana heart. Nutrients you can find in the banana heart include protein, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, iron, potassium and vitamin E. Used in curries, soups and fried foods, it helps in managing anaemia, ward off infections, reduces anxiety whilst boosting moods. It also can improve lactation for breastfeeding mothers and can aid in weight loss.
The Banana Leaf
Banana leaves have been traditionally used for beauty treatments in spas in Bali, simply because they are high in antioxidants. They also are used for garnishing the appearance of foods and as food wrapping. Also in India, Malaysia and Singapore, it is not uncommon to find banana leaf restaurants, simply because your hearty meals are served on banana leafs instead of plates.
Growing Your Own Banana Tree
The first thing you’re going to need is planting material.
The easiest and quickest route is to obtain and plant a banana sucker. A banana sucker is a shoot that grows up alongside a mature banana tree. These suckers can be cut away from their parent tree and used to grow a new tree. Know somebody who grows bananas? Ask them for a sucker. Banana trees perpetually produce suckers, so they’ll have plenty.
Now to pick a spot to plant your tree. Banana trees love warm sunshine, and thrive on 12 hours of direct sunlight a day. While usually planted in the ground, you can plant one in a pot provided the pot is large enough for the plant to eventually attain full size.
Once you’ve got your spot sorted, trim your banana sucker of dead, discoloured or rotted sections before placing into the earth.
Keep your tree well watered and well fertilised with potassium rich fertiliser. Alternatively, you can use chopped up dead leaves to create mulch and pad the banana tree with the nutrient rich mulch.
The tree will begin producing fruit within a year, and then you will have a supply of fresh and natural bananas in your garden!