Tuesday, 4 September 2012

bananas can grow and ripen in Melbourne

For weeks I've walked past a house in Melbourne with a banana plant in the front yard.  Not many people grow them here, because it's thought the climate is too cold. However, I had heard that's not true, so it didn't seem so very out of the ordinary. 






But this plant had fruit  on it. And that's rare so far south.

So today, when I noticed the bunch had disappeared, I just had to open the front gate, walk up the path and knock on the door to ask whether the fruit had ripened.




And it had! I wouldn't have thought the tail-end of a cold winter was the time to harvest a tropical fruit.
Not only did the lady who came to the door answer my question, but she gave me a banana to take home.



As you can see, it was only about nine centimetres (3 1/2 inches) long. But it was delicious, sweeter than the bananas we buy from the shop.

My dog, Penny loves bananas, but she didn't get any of this precious one.



We sometimes like to joke that Penny goes bananas for bananas. I wondered where the expression comes from. The origin of the phrase is unclear. Some say that it relates to the old expression to go ape, because of the connection with apes eating bananas. There's a theory that it might be connected to the myth that eating banana skins can give a hallucinogenic experience.

World Wide Words says the phrase to go bananas dates only from the 1960s.
What of to go bananas? It burst upon the world in the 1960s and became a fashionable, not to say faddish, term in the 1970s. Its heyday is over, perhaps thankfully so. But nobody seems to have any very clear idea where it came from. Was the idea of something bent at the root of it, so that a person was being driven mentally out of shape? Or was there a mental image of an over-excited ape clamouring for his daily feast? Or was it a more subtle image connected with the older phrase to go ape or evento go nuts? You can go crazy thinking about this stuff.

By the way, in researching this topic, I've been reassured that bananas are okay for dogs to eat. (There's a good photo of a banana plant at the ASPCA site.)

3 comments:

Cameron Jenkins said...

Bananas are really easy to grow actually.

I live in Northern Melbourne, about 25kms from the city. I start my bananas in pots, massive plastic ones. Once the plant is about a metre tall, thats when you can dig a shallow hole and take the banana plant out of the pot and place it in the hole. Then I just lump soil all around to cover the roots, and it becomes a mound of sorts.

This for me is I think the key, having a mound so the water is likely not to pool at the roots of the banana. Our soil in Melbourne is particularly poor, full of clay. But having said, I have another plant doing really well which I just dug straight into the ground, but I do use a fair bit of pelleted chicken manure (ie. Dynamic lifter) and Powerfeed which is known to be a clay breaker.

My first lot of bananas are very close to ripening, and they are known as Blue Java bananas. You can buy banana pups either at Bunnings (look for Cool Banana range) or directly from North Queensland via mail (Blue Sky Backyard Bananas)

Cameron Jenkins said...

Bananas are really easy to grow actually.

I live in Northern Melbourne, about 25kms from the city. I start my bananas in pots, massive plastic ones. Once the plant is about a metre tall, thats when you can dig a shallow hole and take the banana plant out of the pot and place it in the hole. Then I just lump soil all around to cover the roots, and it becomes a mound of sorts.

This for me is I think the key, having a mound so the water is likely not to pool at the roots of the banana. Our soil in Melbourne is particularly poor, full of clay. But having said, I have another plant doing really well which I just dug straight into the ground, but I do use a fair bit of pelleted chicken manure (ie. Dynamic lifter) and Powerfeed which is known to be a clay breaker.

My first lot of bananas are very close to ripening, and they are known as Blue Java bananas. You can buy banana pups either at Bunnings (look for Cool Banana range) or directly from North Queensland via mail (Blue Sky Backyard Bananas)

parlance said...

Cameron, you've commented at just the right time for me. I was in Bulleen Art and Garden yesterday, looking at some plants labelled "cool bananas" or something like that. I actually picked one up after reading the label, and then put it back because I couldn't think where to put it. It said to put it beside a north-facingbrick wall and I didn't have any space there. But having read your comment, I think I'll go back and get one.
I also have a bag of chicken manure that I bought on the side of the road last week, so I'll compost that and use it later around my banana plant.

Thanks for the comment.