Man cultivates bananas on backyard tree

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

A banana tree grows in Brunswick County.

And sometimes it even yields a few delicious bananas, says tree owner Emmett Grissett — right in his own backyard in the Cedar Grove community.

“I started off with a little thing right there,” said Grissett, standing beside the flourishing tropical tree towering over his head where the latest baby bananas are emerging.

It wasn’t so long ago that plant “looked like nothin’ — just stalks,” Grissett said. “I cut all the leaves off to just a stump.”

Then things started happening.

Grissett kept wrapping the plant in insulation, the kind used on windows, using plastic to hold it. In the spring, he took it off.

“His sole desire was always to have bananas on the tree,” said Grissett’s wife, Margie.

And you can do that if you “take some time with ‘em,” Emmett said.

Through trial and error, Emmett pampered the tree. He provided support for the branches to ensure emerging stalks didn’t weigh and pull them down.

“I experimented,” Emmett said. “One time I built a tent over this thing and that didn’t do nothin’.”

Emmett’s work with the 10-year-old tree, which was given to the Grissetts by neighbor Sam Hewett, has finally paid off.

Last year the tree yielded a perfect bunch of bananas that were “the best you’ve ever eaten,” he said.

At first, Margie said she was afraid to bite into one of their home-cultivated bananas. Now, she and Emmett are just waiting for the tropical tree to produce another edible bunch this year.

They guesstimate the time will come around September as Emmett continues to nurture and monitor his tree through the summer.

In the wintertime, he’ll wrap the tree up again.

“Most of its inside is like water,” he said, explaining how the tree is prone to freezing in cold-weather months.

So how does Emmett eat his homegrown bananas?

“Just like you do a banana,” he said, adding if he gets enough, he’ll give ‘em away.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.