Kyiv resident created banana farm at home: how to grow tropical fruits off your own bat
Greenhouse-thermos like a ready-made business project and exotic plants right in the apartment. We'll explain everything you need to know
While the borders are closed and traveling to islands seems like a distant and unattainable dream, Rubryka is looking for more accessible tropics for Kyiv residents. In the village of Rozhny, about 50 kilometers from the capital's center, there's a house of a creative married couple: the wife is the only professional pressed flower craft master in Ukraine, and the husband is the creator of a unique greenhouse and owner of a banana farm.
Behind the door, leading from the hall of the couple's house, seemingly, to the basement, you meet an evergreen, fabulous and very warm world, smelling of expensive perfume and oranges, where light gently streams through the ceiling frosted glass, and the once white sides of plants' pallets and batteries turned green as if trying to abandon their industrial nature to look more harmonious in a small biome.
Once you get inside, you realize that limiting the greenhouse by calling it a banana farm is rude. More so, by November, bananas have already borne fruit and don't even bloom, so they look like ordinary houseplants. Besides them, you see figs, pomegranates, papayas, oranges, and tangerines growing on 750 square meters, and on some trees, there are several fruits at once. So, adjacent branches of a garden tree can share kumquat, lime, lemon, tangerine, and orange.
The fruit sizes are unbelievable here. A 10-centimeter-diameter tangerine grafted on an orange, the largest in the world; magical Murraya prolongs life; lemons look more like small melons than lemons, and pineapple shows promise to become a 15-kilogram super fruit.
A secret sewn into the walls
All this is the result of the work of Anatolii Patii, a systems engineer by education and a plant breeder by vocation. The man has been growing tropical plants for 38 years. But how to do it in temperate climates?
No farm would exist if not for the invention of Anatolii. As an engineer, he developed the technology, patented it in Germany 25 years ago, and, of course, built a greenhouse and his house accordingly. The point is not to let in the cold and not to let out the heat; this is the principle of the thermos. During our visit to the farm, the temperature outside is not higher than +6, but in the first greenhouse, it's +15, and in the second one, it's +20 degrees. When we entered Anatolii's house, we were warm, but the batteries were cold, and the heating hadn't been turned on this fall. According to the owner of the house, his system reduces heating costs by 15 times!
You may have thought of very thick house walls, but no; the thickness of the outer spandrils doesn't exceed 15-20 centimeters. The only thing we managed to notice was that inside the greenhouse, walls are lined with foil shielding insulation, but Anatolii refused to say what's under it and the plaster; it's the secret know-how.
You can learn the secret of technology by buying a project from him: "I'm not selling drawings, but ready-made business," says the engineer. "There are more than 700 such greenhouses and houses in Ukraine, and I've sold 30 projects in Europe. In such greenhouses, you can grow vegetables. They have 2.5 times higher yields and are 15 times warmer." This project costs 500 euros and judging by the number of tourists who come to see the banana farm, and orders for seedlings received by the owner, such a project will pay off quickly.
Why does it smell Chanel here?
As soon as you approach a blossoming plant, you immediately feel the familiar festive aroma; that's what the legendary Chanel №5 smells like. The thing is that the blossoming orange tree and the world-famous perfume share a common history. When Coco ordered a special scent, she was given 10 bottles to choose from. Coco liked sample number 5 the most, so it became the prototype of the legendary fragrance; it was an extract from an orange flower, the smell of which resembles a perfume classic.
Being near these flowers is not only pleasant but also very useful, because the air here is sterile; during flowering citrus tree releases volatile compounds that kill pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Anatolii suggests that despite the frequent visits of guests to the farm, they managed to avoid the coronavirus only because of this property of flowers.
A banana tree is a money tree
The owner of two greenhouses says that he once started small: he planted bananas in 5-liter bottles, put them on the windowsill, and when the plants gave new shoots, he transplanted and sold them. Now he buys seedlings from everyone and says that from one little banana tree, one can earn about three thousand hryvnias a month. The plant requires a minimum of attention, unpretentious care and quickly gives new shoots. There may be about 40. These shoots can be planted and sold directly to Anatolii's farm. He accepts seedlings of bananas, pineapples, oranges, and tangerines from people. The average price is 70 hryvnias per seedling.
Tropics in the apartment
You can grow an exotic plant at home. If your goal is a banana or citrus, it is most convenient to do it by plant cutting: twigs are separated from the tree, seedlings are inserted into the sand, and after they give roots, they must be transplanted into the ground. Citrus flowers begin to bloom at one month of age, but the buds should be cut off until the plant has at least 50 leaves, otherwise, the tree will not bear fruit. The adult lemon tree bears fruit all year round. The trees can have both flowers and ripe fruit at the same time.
The most impatient gardeners can grow papaya: the plant gives the first fruit 9 months after germination. Therefore, the plant is famous as the tree of the impatient gardener. It looks great as an ornamental plant.
And the usual monstera, which is in almost every house, as it turned out, also bears fruit. It should be a monstera, Swiss cheese plant, and if you put it in direct sunlight, it bears fruit. According to Anatolii, it's the most delicious fruit he has ever tasted. It tastes like a mixture of banana and pineapple. To grow tropical plants at home, you need advice, because sometimes you need special conditions. You can find the information you need on Anatolii's Youtube channel.
Kyiv resident Sonia Zubenko lives in the United States and grows an entire exotic garden at home.
She's not a professional gardener but her love for plants was instilled in her as a child by her mother, who brought home roots, seeds, and seedlings. "And then she went to the Dominican Republic and brought a 20-kilogram coconut that grew in our house, it was cool because it's a huge palm tree," says Sonia. Sonia grows grapefruit, avocado, papaya, lemon, and mango at home. She shared with Rubryka how she managed to grow it all:
"Before planting papaya seeds, you need to dry them for a couple of days and remove the film in a couple of days. It's easy to do this by putting the seeds between two paper napkins and rolling them by hand, then the film is removed by itself. I planted many seeds in one pot. It sprouted and looks very beautiful, like a forest.
I also grew mangoes. It's not so easy to grow; you need the right temperature. We had 3 attempts to grow mangoes, in 2 of them we planted mangoes the wrong way in the ground, and instead of growing up, they grew down where they could not find light, air, and rotted. On the third try, we planted it correctly, and the mango sprouted. Mango seeds look like legumes, and you need to plant them with the border up, then they will grow properly.
To make the plants live better, Sonia bought ultraviolet lamps with automatic light switching, because tropical plants require more light. The modes allow the lamps to turn on automatically, for example, 16 in 8 hours or 12 in 12. Now Sonia is in Ukraine, but here in her magical hands, she managed to grow something unusual: "I bought a piece of ginger from Fori, and it sprouted," she said. At home, besides tropical fruits, she grows succulents: "The main thing is not to touch them, they require a minimum of care. Succulents need only timely watering. If you touch the leaf, and it bends easily, then it's time," Sofia advises.
As it turned out during the writing of the article, there are a lot of people who grow exotic plants at home, and it is not difficult to do so. In winter, they will delight you with a nice green spot, and in a few years, who knows, instead of berry jam, you will seal jars of lemon or mango.