Has anyone grown bananas in a non-tropical location? It looks like the california gold banana will grow in my tx environment, so I would like to start prepping the ground. I know they are heavy feeders, so I'm planning to put several inches of manures, compost, mulch, etc down. We have terrible terrible soil (literally no nutrients, and very acid). Any thing else we should do? We eventually want a hoop house to grow mango, papaya, pineapple, banana in.
Without knowing where you are difficult to advise...
In general, mango and papaya are more forgiving and easier to grow. Bananas need a LOT of water and do not tolerate wind. If you have water and shelter from wind then should be OK. No frosts ever where I live so I have no advice on how these trees deal (or not) with the cold. If you have a problem with spiders, don't bother with bananas.
I have heard that they like to be planted in basin with mulchy rich soil, which is what I try to provide my California gold banana. Where I am it seems like the bananas need to flower before June to set fruit before potential frost and cold. I keep my plants low in the winter so they are easier to protect.
Seems like the obvious banana circle has not been mentioned, so I'll mention it.
Bill Mollison claimed an 85 times greater yield, and I wouldn't know personally about that, but I've been growing non fruiting bananas in zone 7 and have thought about a dwarf I heard of since I've had lots of success, albeit not with fruit, just with health and size of plants, even though they die back every winter.
It looks like if temps would stay a little closer to freezing and not go into the 20s, above ground growth might continue.
Anyway, dig a circle pit about 1/2 to a meter deep, 2 meters diameter, mound the soil around the edge and fill the pit with mulch--yes they do like lots of water, but the mulch pit is great at moderating the extremes of water. i would guess the circle helps a little with the wind also. guessing spiders may be more of a problem where it doesn't freeze seasonally.
Anyway, 12 plants to the circle and when they put off shoots, keep one from each plant for the next crop--all on the same side so the next crop is a little left or a little right of the previous.
In the tropics they throw logs and everything in as mulch, likely in Texas you might want to go with lighter wood and misc compostable garbage.
I have an abbreviated circle since they aren't really productive of anything but shade, but after i dug the mulch pit next to them they dramatically increased in size
Sweet Potatoes are supposed to be a great crop to grow on the mulch, Tarot might do well also, maximizing the yield and controlling weeds. I put my tumeric plants out close to them but keep them in pots since they have to come in and over winter inside here. Down in Texas you can likely just plant the Tumeric in the mulch also.
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