Going bananas in the garden for extra nutrients

Banana skins in a bucket

Have you ever seen a quirky idea, thought it was a bit mad but worth trying? Or even worth adapting?

A friend told me recently that she had been soaking banana skins through the summer and using the mixture as a plant grower.

Sounds utterly bonkers! But, when you think it through, it is probably what our ancestors did – even if it was perhaps limited to those from countries in which bananas grow, anyway.

Essentially, this seems simply an acceleration of the composting process. To those au fait with the composting process, it is easy enough to throw banana skins into a composter, or pile, along with many vegetable and fruit peelings, pips, stems or cores: The bits, essentially, you don’t cook.

I once came across a recipe for “compost heap marmalade”, which isn’t as disgusting as it sounds. It is made from boiling up several fruit skins: that is, what you would put in the compost heap, well before any degradation.

Usually, banana skins mix with everything else, break down and will come out next spring and put new nutrients into the soil. In theory. Some bits are still a bit big and just go back into the composter.

I looked up this banana skin residue idea. It was one of five liquid fertiliser ideas, presented most accessibly on a website called Stuff.

Packed with potassium, phosphorus and calcium, banana skins are apparently particularly good for roses. There are a few methods. Put a few banana peels in 660ml of water and let the goodness leech out of them for a few days. Or blitz one up in a cup of water. Overripe bananas, in full, could be blitzed into a liquid, it says. I prefer making banana bread! But it suggests you could pour these blitzed over the base of your vegetables. The peels, eventually, have to be taken out and put in the composter.

So I formed a plan. A bucket in the garden has collected much rain water. The heavens show no sign of abating. Thus, banana skins are now going in this bucket! They can stay there a while. I’m going to need quite a few to equal the the ratio of 660ml water and two or three banana skins. I’m going to experiment over about a month.

Then, I have a keen eye on that new patch in the garden I’ve created. The one that is an extension of the summer’s vegetable growing area. The roses, positioned elsewhere, seem to do quite well already. A red one and a white one bloom well at the appropriate time.

I figure that the newest area, while initially prepared with the summer’s used compost and some guinea pig bedding and waste, will need extra help. Afterall, I’ve taken up a patch of grass to create it. Therefore, while the ground underneath could be fresh, it will need a little extra fertilisation.

What better way to inject some extra nutrients before winter than to bypass the full composting process and add some liquid banana-based feed? It will have a few months extra to make a difference, before I plant something in spring. What’s not to like, when growing vegetables in the garden is all one big experiment?