Bananas are today a global crop, lauded for their high vitamin and mineral content and relatively low cost. Banana trees can be separated into more than 300 species, 20 of which are commercially produced. These are further divided into sweet varieties and drier cooking bananas or plantains. Banana cultivation involves raising bananas from immature rhizomes to full-grown, fruit-producing trees. Banana cultivation requires some gardening skills and a good knowledge of the process.
Prepare the soil for your banana plant by turning it over and blending it with 50 percent new topsoil using your shovel and pitchfork. Blend in 1/2 pound of compost and organic fertilizers to create soil that is high in nutrients and nicely aerated. Prepare a patch of soil about 4 feet across and about 3 feet in depth.
Plant your bananas in the early summer months to ensure the high 70s and low 80s temperatures required for the new plant to take root. This will also provide several months of temperatures in the 80s and above for the fruit to form and ripen. Once the seasons change and the temps fall, the banana plant will retract until the warm weather comes around again.
Cut a rhizome from an existing banana tree or plant for use as a seedling. Rhizomes are sucker shoots that form either just above or just below ground at the base of the tree or plant. These suckers are offshoots that form roots quickly, so they are ideal transplant material. Use a sharp shovel edge or blade to remove the rhizome, and place it into your freshly turned soil for planting.
Plant each rhizome about nine feet apart to allow enough room for growth and development but not so much that trees end up fending for themselves with no support from other trees. Banana trees require shelter from wind and weather, and other banana trees provide such shelter.
Create humidity for your banana plants by spraying them from the top down and ensuring that the leaves are wet several times each day. Since the plants are native to rain forest and subtropical climates, these same conditions should be mimicked for the best results. Repeat this irrigation schedule daily.
Remove weeds by hand whenever they become visible. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to prevent weeds from growing and to help with water drainage while preventing rot. Place 1 to 2 pounds of organic fertilizer around the base of your banana plants every month to keep the nutrient levels up where they need to be for successful fruit production.
Pick your bananas in late summer and again in early spring. Use a sharp blade to remove only the bunches that are turning yellow, while leaving the rest to ripen further.