Going bananas

Greenhouse Sensation: Head gardening angel Paul Lloyd with the papaya plant.
Greenhouse Sensation: Head gardening angel Paul Lloyd with the papaya plant.
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It is all going bananas in a Lancashire village.

Garden equipment company Greenhouse Sensations is growing a hoard of tropical fruits more associated with the sun-kissed Caribbean islands than a rain-soaked Lancashire village.

At the company’s greenhouses in Dark Lane, Mawdesley, gardeners harvest 180 bananas a year, plus pineapples, ginger, lemongrass, and enough of the world’s hottest chilli to supply six farms in the UK.

Now the firm wants to see people using their conservatories to grow more adventurous fayre.

Commerical director Emma Lowther-Wright said: “We’ve been growing bananas in Mawdelsey for 12 years, and there’s no reason why anyone else in Lancashire can’t do the same.

“You need an area that is no less than 12°C that gets plenty of light, so a heated conservatory is absolutely fine.

“What’s important is that you get the watering right. Bananas need a lot of water, but it’s easy to over-water them, which can make the roots rot.

“We use clay pebbles instead of soil, so that lots oxygen gets to the roots, and the planters have a pump that supplies water 12 times a day. Cheating is a lot easier.”

The variety grown by Greenhouse Sensations is Dwarf Cavendish, originally developed by the family who owned Chatsworth House. Now the company supply their equipment to the head gardener at Chatsworth.

Emma added: “We use the bananas to demonstrate our equipment and always get visitors to try the produce.

“The taste of home-grown bananas is completely different to those you buy in supermarkets.

“They have been picked unripe, shipped half way around the world, then ripened artificially. Although they take a year to fully ripen, because we don’t have a lot of sunshine, the ones that we grow are so much sweeter because the sugars have had time to develop.”

The company, which makes all of its equipment in the county, also grows ginger for visitors to rub and smell.

Emma said: “Ginger looks very beautiful when grown in a conservatory, and can be used in so many things. It can be harvested between March and October.

“I think the message is that people from Lancashire can grow anything they like, so long as the equipment is right.”