Ahh! The classic Permaculture banana circle.. what a beauty. And so productive too!
Banana circles are a simple set-up that provide all the bananas needs (lots of nutrients and water) with minimal input and maintentance.
Making a banana circle is a bit of hard work but dead easy. You dig out a circular pit about 6 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The bananas (usually 7 of them; if interplanted with papaya then 4) are planted into the loose dug-out earth on the rim of the circle about 1 meter apart. You can also interplant the bananas with papaya (paw-paw). To really increase productivity, you can plant beans to climb the bananas and sweet potato as groundcover. You can also plant turmeric, ginger and taro on the inner rim as well.
The pit gets filled with organic matter: old banana plants and leaves, cut-back weeds, kitchen scraps, even old clothes and mattresses – anything that can decompose will do! The banana circle can turn into your personal recycling station!
This will all decompose and feed your bananas and anything else growing on the circle.
Some maintenance tips: A banana plant will fruit only once in her life, so after she fruits cut her down and throw her in the pit! There she will decompose and turn into nutrients for the other bananas to absorb. Also, the energy she was absorbing to live and grow can now go to her suckers (the young shoots that come up from the mother corm in the ground) instead, so they can reach maturity faster and fruit. Then you cut those back and throw them in the pit – so the cycle of the circle goes on..
Banana circles are officially the superior alternative to monoculture banana plantations that deplete the land, thereby introducing the need for chemical fertilizers, which then lead to the need for insecticides as well.
Bananas are heavy feeders and like lots of water. With banana circles we create a simple organic system that can utilize the wastes of humanity to provide the bananas needs and thereby suit our own.
So, we can turn the banana circle into a grey-water treatment system. You can have the pipe from your kitchen sink or shower drain lead directly into your banana circle, thereby finding suitable use for human waste and simultaneaously watering your bananas. Brilliant!
You can also build a platform over the pit and create an outdoor shower or shitter directly over the circle. In the case of human faeces, no worries mate! The bananas will sop it up in no time. Just make sure to throw a carbon layer on everytime you shit (such as rice or soybean husk or sawdust). This’ll keep the whole system fly-free.
You can also put your banana circle within a palm circle. Another winner at the Permaculture pageant!
So give it a go! Your bananas will love it and you will love the bananas (and beans, papayas, turmeric, ginger, galangal and sweet potato too)!