Today was yet another great (but long) day of Dominican Republic tropical permaculture. We spent the morning outside the house soaking up the morning sounds and sites of Los Brazos as the town started to wake up. Doug got right to it and had us apply what we had learned yesterday by placing out main elements in a mock site plan. We debated and moved stuff around, put showers on top of banana circles, and rabbits on top of worm bins.
Back in the classroom, we discussed Accelerate Succession and Evolution. A principle that promotes building your own climax species in a shorter time. It encourages you to observe what invasive species are coming into an area that’s recently experienced some kind of disturbance. This disturbance could have been slash and burn, intensive clearing, a wild fire, or a windstom. In permaculture it,is suggested that you work with these pioneer species, and plant other varieties of plants that will keep them at bay to help your other bigger plants eventually win out in the root battle. You are basically looking to create an agricultural system that puts back in what it takes out and keeps water onsite instead of letting it run off (with more mature trees- roots increase in depth and width).
Before we headed out to build our banana circle in the field, we talked quickly about Diversity. A banana circle (or in our case, a papaya circle) is a great example of this principle. “The sum of the yields in a mixed system will be larger than in a monoculture system. Stability is produced when elements are cooperating.” Planting in a circle allows for more papaya plants. By using your space in height and ground cover effectively, you design an area that produces high yield and also gives nutrients and biomass back to the soil around it.
So, out in the field, we put our knowledge to work and chiseled away at the clay ground until we had hole that was 1 m in diameter and 3 ft deep. We then filled it with biomass (dry cana leaves, wood chips, and horse manure). The mounds around the outside of the hole are built up about one foot and are planted with root veggies, grasses, papayas and anything else you wish to fill in the space and time while the bigger plants mature. Check out Doug’s more in-depth description on his TreeYo Permaculture Site.
To top the day off: a fresh coconut and a swim in the river 🙂