Starting cold hardy bananas from seed

in gardening •  2 months ago

So, do you know what a banana seed looks like? Bet you didn't. At least I didn't - because all of our modern bananas have had the seeds bred out of them while they were bred to be bigger and sweeter.

Well I can see why that happened because these seeds are hard as a rock and the size of garbanzo beans. Not very palatable in contrast to the soft sweet meat of the banana.

banana.jpg

Bananas are easily divisible and so you can easily clone a banana tree from another tree and get it going. So then why am I planting bananas from seed?!

There are a few reasons.

1 Genetic diversity

I am a big proponent of growing perennials from seed for genetic diversity. Diversity equals more chase for resilience to disease. Diversity embraces diversity. Diversity embraces sex.

As I understand there used to be thousands of varieties of bananas. Now we are down to a few common varieties embraced by industrialization. It is a true wonder of industry that we have bananas in all our markets any time of year - but at what cost do we import all of our food and homogenize all of our food?

If we can grow our own bananas in temperate regions, at least up to a certain latitude, why shouldn't we? Because they have rock like seeds in them? Yeah, lets eat around the seeds, save them and embrace them, pray to them, because they are our food security, they represent our freedom and our own diversity.

2 Cold Hardy Bananas

I don't know anyone that has cold hardy bananas that I can divide and so see makes a lot of sense. Especially when it is cheaper to ship and more affordable per plant that I will potentially end up with.

I came across https://georgiavines.com which among many other interesting plants offers dozens of banana varieties by seed. After going through the catalog I came across two varieties that are cold hardy to zone 7. I understand that they can withstand winter in zone 7, but perhaps need some coddling, such as deep mulching, to get through the colder winters.

I am happy to support a seed company that is not just offering the same old same old seeds, because I do want to support genetic diversity and that means diversity of seed growers and suppliers. The long tail "niche" isn't always profitable but it is so important to us culturally and biologically.

We are about a 6b and assuming similar zone next time we move, I think these bananas are worthy of trying out! Especially if we can have some more homegrown tropical fruit to go along with our paw paws!

I am not planning on relying on these bananas alone as food security, because I don't know if they will thrive here. I have planted dozens of nut and fruit tree seeds that I am confident can thrive here, that I hope to rely on in years to come as my future food security. But I think these bananas have potential to go far beyond novelty and if they thrive they will provide a lot of joy and more satisfaction in being able to grow food that we have become accustomed to relying on importing to satisfy cravings to appease our modern industrialized palate.

Germination instructions suggested soaking seeds for 48 hours, then drying out for 24 hours and soaking again for 24 hours. What an interesting way to unlock these banana seeds. I followed the instructions and put them under some soil in pots and covered the pots with plastic so they wouldn't dry out inside our home. I'll move them into the greenhouse in the spring when it warms up.

Apparently the banana seeds can take several weeks to 4 months to sprout. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted. This will be a multi year experiment! Perhaps lifelong ;)

Peace and abundance.




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Eeeeee! 🍌 exciting stuff over there at the @sagescrub homestead!! ❤ It sounds so appealing to be able to grow such a vast diversity of perennial plantlife. I look forward to future follow-ups with the awesome plants you are stewarding Blessings & Much Love 🙏🐝🌻🌱

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Thank you @yogajill :) I am excited to see where this leads

That should be fun to see grow. I love banana trees for their large leaves and only ever saw the seeds on a banana tree in my son's yard, who lives in Panama. (@hilarski) I hope they can survive for you. Keep us posted!

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Oh you just reminded me banana leaves can be used for food storage. Another great benefit :) Thanks, I will definitely keep you posted!

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Thank you!

This is exciting stuff! Never seen any banana seeds myself, but I find it amazing that you want to grow them from seed, in your region. Keep us posted on their progress!

I never thought about banana seeds. Somehow I thought there was a different method of propagation due to heavy breeding programs to "make the perfect banana". Also seeds in bananas are either nonexistent or very tiny when they are ripe. So cool to see some!

The "vernalizing" of the seed makes sense, as it definitely doesn't like cold. Think tropics where it rains every day...

Looking forward to progress reports...

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Yeah those were my reactions also - too bad the quest for perfection breeds diversity out.

Good point about the vernalizing. Yes it does make sense to have wet followed by dry as a trigger. Funny thing is the seeds didn't soften or swell at all and remain quite "rock" like... I am curious to see how it goes.

Wow, this is interesting! I didn't even think about banana seeds or what they looked like. I'm glad you found some, this means they're not all clones of the same banana!!!

Diversity is the path to fight off desease and be resilient for sure... strangth in numbers I guess right?

Can't wait to see what comes out of these babies.

Good luck.

Ps: I want to build a green house on the south side of our home, earthship style to be able to grow bananas. Thanks for the post

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Yeah I will definitely make follow up posts about the bananas and other propagation projects I have going on. What zone are you? There are plenty of options of bananas both by clone and by seed on the website I shared, it might be a good place to do some research for interesting varieties :)