A banana circle design for a permaculture site in the Dominican Republic.
A banana circle is a valuable permaculture idea. In warmer climate zones where banana trees grow, it is one of the best ways to create a sustainable edible garden. A banana circle incorporates a number of different organic gardening ideas. It is a kind of guild, or polyculture of plants that aid one another in various ways. It also allows gardeners to grow food sustainably, and makes it easier to return surplus to the system and maintain fertility in the ecosystem.
What is a Banana Circle?A banana circle is a circular layout of banana trees (potentially also along with some other trees, such as paw paw/ papaya). The trees are planted on a raised ring around a central pit into which organic matter, waste and water can be added. Companion plants are added too. Some plants are added on the outer side of the banana tree ring, where it is sunnier and drier. Others are added on the inner side of the ring. Still others are added on the raised ring to provide ground cover and add fertility.
How To Make a Banana Circle
To make a banana circle in your warm-climate garden:
For drier, sunnier conditions on the outer side of the mound:
For ground cover around other plants around the ring:
(To fix nitrogen)
Climbing the banana trees:
On top of the mound, between the banana trees:
(These can be chopped and dropped into the central pit to feed the system.)
On the wetter, dimmer inside of the ring:
These are just some of the plants that could be included. You could also consider incorporating a range of other plants – especially plants that are native to your own particular area.
Over time, you should continue to add compostable materials into the pit at the centre of your banana circle, and to add water to support the system when necessary. By planting in this way, you should be able to reduce the amount of water and nutrients that are wasted. As the banana trees grow, they will provide shade and allow you to grow a range of other edible plants nearby.
If you create a banana circle, you will be able to harvest bananas for years to come. But you will also benefit from a range of other yields from the companion plants mentioned above – and other companion plants that you add as your garden grows.