Dawn Goodman and Mike De Ruiter have a banana tree that is growing fruit in their backyard. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Dawn Goodman and Mike De Ruiter have a banana tree that is growing fruit in their backyard. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Banana tree bears fruit in Maple Ridge backyard

Couple says heat wave at the end of June must be the reason why

A Maple Ridge couple have managed to grow bananas in their backyard.

During the heat wave at the end of June, when temperatures rose above 40 Celsius, Mike De Ruiter and Dawn Goodman noticed a large pod form on one of their two trees.

The trees were already in the backyard when they purchased the home about two and a half years ago, so they are unsure about the age of the plants.

However, this was the first time they had ever seen a pod on either tree.

Then, after a quick vacation along the Sunshine Coast, they returned a couple of days later to a row of little green bananas sticking out from above the pod..

They believe the heat from the heat dome that descended on the province from June 25 to July 1 is what contributed to the banana tree bearing fruit.

“It has to be. It’s the only difference we had,” said De Ruiter.

“We knew they were called banana trees, but we didn’t know it would produce bananas,” added Goodman, noting that she knows the trees as banana palms.

And there are many different varieties of these trees, explained De Ruiter, who has researched the plant online to figure out how to take care of it. A lot are grown as ornamental plants because of their tropical look.

De Ruiter also noted the trees are very common across the Lower Mainland. As a bus driver, he sees hundreds of them along his bus route through Burnaby and New Westminster.

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Every year the couple has cut the plants down to about a metre above the ground and bubble wrap them for insulation over the winter months. All the growth happens in the spring. Their plants are now about four metres high.

They discovered that the pod is made up of leaves that peel back and fall off the plant, revealing a row of flowers that sprout the bananas.

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According to Tropical Permaculture, the ideal temperature range for banana growing is around 26-30°C and they require rich soil and lots of water. There are three common varieties: Cavendish, the most known from the local supermarket; lady fingers that are smaller and sweeter and mostly grown as ornamental plants; and plantains which are drier and more starchy and are commonly cooked.

Shauna Bosetti, of Maple Ridge, noticed that her banana tree started flowering in May. She has been told that in this area, the banana plant may produce a flower stock after about seven years of age. In more tropical zones, she said, the plant needs 10-15 frost free months of which to produce a flower stock.

The first of the flowering stage is the female part, and these are called “hands”, the bananas. The second part, the tip of the flower is the male, it’s really heavy too, she said.

Another city resident, Bruce Moffat, said he has been growing bananas for the past 10 years.

Both De Ruiter and Goodman love bananas and can’t wait to figure out what variety they have.


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