Our Banana Notes & Tips – please note this is just intended to be a bit of advice from us to you. Please do your own research and determine the best methods of planting and maintenance for your specific needs. If you have purchased from us, please feel free to contact us with any further questions and pictures and we will do our best to advise.
Planting: Bananas keiki can be planted directly into the ground in full sun. It is best when banana keiki are planted into holes 1.5 feet deep and 3 feet wide. They have a minimum of 15 feet spacing, unless you are planting a windbreak (then you can plant closer). Water them heavily and mulch them to establish the plants. Keep them moist and weed-free. You can try planting support plants like sweet potato, comfrey, sisso spinach etc. around them to discourage weeds. But especially here in wet Hawaii, weed them monthly to prevent grass taking over. Mulching the ground around the keiki 3 inches deeps is great but MAKE SURE TO NOT LET THE WET MULCH TOUCH KEIKI, in other words, leave a little space between keiki trunk and mulched ground.
If bananas can’t be cared for regularly place banana suckers in 3-5 gallon pots in sterile media or compost/cinder with good drainage and water with a sprinkler until well rooted.
Preventing pests: Banana Borer beetles are everywhere, and they can make growing many different cultivars to their greatest potential challenging, especially Polynesian types. To prevent borer beetle damage to plants sprinkle Neem seed powder (available at Farm Co-op in Hilo) at a rate of 1/2 a cup per banana mat every 3-4 months in circle around clump. Increase to 1 cup once they are a full size patch.
Maintenance: Bananas can become unproductive if too many plants are left to grow in a clump. Maintain clumps of bananas at 1 fruiting, 1 soon to fruit and one keiki, (grandma – mom – baby concept). Dig up and remove bananas that exceed this number for optimum productivity and ease of future maintenance. Fertilize regularly for best results!
Okinawan Spinach, Gynura crepioides, a hardy and vigorous spinach substitute, in the chrysanthemum family. It is found in both the just green and green/purple varieties. Plants will sprawl out for 3-6 feet and last many years, making it an excellent tropical perennial. Okinawa spinach can grow up to about 3 feet tall unsupported or you can allow it to climb other plants or fixtures. The greens are tender and very nutritious and can be added to other cooked dishes or or eaten along with other steamed vegetables. If there are over cooked, they become a little bit slimy which is why they are a good addition instead of eaten solely.
Taking and growing Okinawa spinach cuttings
They are very easily grown from medium soft and hard growth cuttings. All you need to do is stick them in a bit of moist soil and make sure they don’t dry out until they are established. You can also root the cuttings in water or inside in pots.
Okinawa spinach in your garden or landscape
Okinawa spinach occupies under story spaces in food forest systems well and competes well with grasses and weeds IF you weed it until it is well established. The purple/green varieties have a shiny purple underside of the leaf and bright yellow/orange flowers making it an attractive landscaping plant. If left unchecked it will spread semi-vigorously in all directions. It is a true winner of the tropical and a must have in permaculture systems.
Sissoo spinach (also called Brazilian spinach, and whose scientific name is Alternanthera sissoo) is a low growing 10-20 inch herb. Culinarily, people use sissoo leaves as a decent spinach substitute. Sissoo also thrives in the tropics in poor or rich soil and can easily be grown from cuttings. This type of spinach can be eaten raw but is usually cooked.
Landscaping with Sissoo Spinach Cuttings
Sissoo spinach really shines as a ground cover and a edge plant. It fills in fast and can also be dug out as a whole plant, replanted and kept moist. It practically just reanimates if weather is not too hot and it fills in understory of shrubs and taller herbs very nicely. This works great for planting on the edge of lawns and trails because you can mow right up to it and it maintains a nice aesthetic and provides a sense of food security as a bonus.
I love to use it in combination with African blue basil, and or comfrey. All of these plants fill in space quickly shade the ground bellow and create a very beautiful look. Getting your edges planted first with plants like sissoo and comfrey means less encroaching weeds will bother your garden, lawns, or paths and less weedwhacking and weeding has to be done when mower can mow close to your edges. Once well established they are almost . free.
These Dracaena fragrans plants originated in Tropical Africa. The upright, unbranched stems with broad evergreen leaves have a wide, central yellow stripe. They also have extremely fragrant flowers that are occasionally produced and open during the evening.
In colder climates the Massangeana is grown mostly indoors as a house plant. However, in Hawaiʻi, this Dracaena can grow as high as 20 feet tall! Ours are about 14 feet tall. This means that in addition to being and ornamental it can also be grown as a wind break, hedge or accent plant. Moreover, the leaves are actually nicer shades of green and yellow when it is in at least partial shade. But this plant also tolerates full sun.
Propagation of Massangeana cuttings:
This plant and most other Dracaena grow easily from cuttings. You can either just use the top cuttings (about 8 inches) or you can keep going down the stem making at least 8 inch sections with at least a few nodes.
Place all your cuttings and stem sections in water or soil and be patient. It takes a little longer for the stem sections to root than the top cuttings. Roots should start appearing at the bottom nodes, while any nodes at the top will start swelling and producing new leaf shoots.
This is one of my FAVORITE greens to cook stir-fried, sautéed, soups etc. The perfect in-between of spinach, greens and cabbage. I love it so much I have a hard time selling it. The stems are delicate, the leaves highly nutritious. The flavor is mild, ever more mild than spinach, similar to bok choy. Also called spoon cabbage, spoon mustard (although it tastes nothing like mustard greens).
We are selling fig cuttings from the Little Miss Figgy Variety (a dwarf). Great tree to have in your yard on on your homestead. This variety is very hearty in the tropics (especially rainy Hāmākua) and produces excellent fruit.
Figs are drought tolerant, and strike readily from cuttings. In Hawaii, they can be grown almost anywhere. It only take a few years for them to begins fruiting and within 3-4 years you get a very decent harvest. The harvest is staggered so it makes a wonderful grazing fruit for snacking and entertaining guests.
If you order fig cuttings from us and you will receive about a 6″ woody cutting. Fig cuttings will root best placed in moist sterile potting media with a plastic bag or ziplock humidity dome over pot. This can be placed on a shaded windowsill or in shade until rooted. After about 1 month check bottom of pot for emerging roots and transplant to larger pot, water heavily and place in sun until ready for planting. Fig bags can be used once fruiting to protect harvests from pesky birds.
In this 3 part interview, Adam Crowe interviews with Ellen Wong of the Farm Hour show on WIOX community radio. This was recorded on September 2017 and aired on Oct 9, 2017 in the Catskill Mountains of upstate NY. It is part 1 of a 3 part radio interview where Adam describes his love for permaculture, agroforestry, soil management and his general view of farming, especially in tropical climates.
In this hour long interview on WIOX radio on Sept 26, 2016, Katie talks about the beginning of her journey to growing food and eating healthy. She details some information on farming in the tropics, especially on her fruit farm on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.