Here's positive proof Cowichan is in Canada's banana belt

Bobby Singh is wondering if North Cowichan will consider renaming his street Banana Boulevard after harvesting bananas for the first time ever in his yard. - Peter W. Rusland
Bobby Singh is wondering if North Cowichan will consider renaming his street Banana Boulevard after harvesting bananas for the first time ever in his yard.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Cowichan could be the centre of Canada's banana belt, and homeowner Bobby Singh may soon have the peels prove it.

Once his three trees bear bananas — during the Warm Land's current drought — the Gilanas Place resident aims to ask North Cowichan council to rename his street Banana Boulevard, where he and his south-facing neighbours seemingly live in the tropics.

"If we have too long a summer, we'll be eating bananas in another two months," said Fiji-born Singh, unaware of Cowichan folks growing edible bananas before.

"And some people I know in Vancouver have had a banana tree for 15 years, and they've never had a flower yet."

But Singh's tallest tree has produced about 40 tree shoots, and has a flower that could yield bananas soon.

"A tree that gets bananas will then die. It only gives bananas once in its life, then that's it."

Singh got one banana shoot from a neighbour four years ago.

He planted it in a hole measuring four feet deep and three feet wide, filled with organic soil and grass clippings, then watered it daily.

His first tree now stands about 15 feet.

He used a shoot from that tree cluster to plant his second cluster two years ago — then a third, in his backyard, a year ago.

"The root travels then other shoots pop out."

They're all healthy with new shady foliage unfurling.

"You don't use chemicals; you just hope for the best," he said, noting grass clippings circling the base keep the ground moist.

Singh, 41, didn't just begin growing bananas on a whim.

"I grew up with bananas at home in Fiji. We had fields of bananas and sugar cane," he said, noting the hearty, tropical vegetable taro is also growing in his garden.

For the first couple of winters, plastic was draped on his trees to shield them from cold weather.

"It kept the frost away. Now these (tall, mature) trees don't need anything on them in winter."

But Singh's bunch of banana trees aren't simply friendly foliage; they could sprout profits.

"Next year, I'll start selling (bananas and leaves)," he said, welcoming calls from Cowichan's crop of organic chefs to buy the fruits of his shoots.

Singh was clearly proud of the trees he's nursed.

"You won't see banana trees this big anywhere."

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