, , ,

Building a Banana Circle in the Tropics

… and other fast changes on a permaculture farm on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

When you see something daily, it is usually hard to spot the change. However it is different on a farm in the tropics where you can see visible changes every day. Even you as a person can ‘grow’ here. You could almost say “plant in the morning, harvest in the evening”.

Fast growth in the tropics

Fast growth in the tropics

Unfortunately not only things you have planted grow and that is why the weeding lovers are always welcome :-). However, when we get the permaculture going in full power, we won’t have to worry about weeding any longer.

One of the most potent and exemplary designs in tropical permaculture is the banana circle. Building a banana circle in the tropics can be really fun if you get some friends involved. In order to make a banana circle you need to dig a hole in the ground, usually 2 metres wide and 1 metre deep using the middle as the composting area. When constructed correctly, it serves mainly as a spot to cycle the constant flow of organic matter. The earth that is dug is drug outwardly with hoes and shovels to form a mound about 60 cm wide. This gives plenty of planting space for the bananas themselves and the subsequent guilds. The mound will support five to seven bananas equidistantly planted around the edge on top of the mound. Bananas are very hungry plants and will thrive off the abundant cycling of organic material as well as the moisture inherent in its design. From there, a myriad of plants can be inserted but the main ones used in this guild still are providing physical shelter, nutrients, assist in pest control, and reduce root competition. And on top of this the guild will also produce food!

building a banana circle on taino farm

building a banana circle on taino farm

Apart from banana circles, we also make hot compost piles at Taino farm. Although they are slightly different than the ones we know from our grandmas’ gardens and which can take up to one year to mature. Materials that are used to make a compost pile consist of so called “brown” material such as cardboard, dried leaves, straw, branches etc. that are high in carbon and rot down very slowly. Materials that are high in nitrogen are typically moist “green” materials such as grass, fruit and vegetable scraps, animal manure and green leafy materials that rot down very quickly. In order to speed up the process we should turn the compost pile periodically. With the right care you can make a perfect compost in the tropics in 18 – 30 days which is incredible!

hot compost at taino farm

hot compost at taino farm

You can spot how everything is pulsating also when you see how quickly the coulour of the Rio Yassica changes after the heavy rain or when you notice the arrival of a newborn calf in the herd. Moreover, when you time your volunteering right i.e. autumn 2013 you get to experience a great opening party of the Mojito Bar restaurant at the Extreme hotel as well!

The Rio yassica changes colour

The Rio Yassica changes colour

Pregnant cow and baby calf at Taino Farm

Pregnant cow and baby calf at Taino Farm

And since we should not forget the local wood workers, we have to admit that they can do their job very well and are willing to try even the impossible for you :-).

Agro Tourism in the Dominican Republic

Our stilted huts floating magically