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Old 10-09-2019, 04:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Banana Circles

I’m hoping a few here have some experience with banana circles… I recently moved to South FL (10a) and I picked up 6 varieties over the past few months (lucky to be within a 2 hr. drive to “Going Bananas”). Still trying to figure out the best plan for watering / fertilizer (crazy humidity, heavy rains in summer, sandy soil). My Raji Puri flowered in just 7 months! Anyway, a dug out a banana circle last weekend between 3 of my plants (about 7 foot diameter / 2 feet deep) and dumped in tons of my green and brown garden “waste”. For some reason I didn’t seem to find much on any threads here… seems lots of info on permaculture sites but I like the practical advice I find here. Anyone have good experience growing this way? What worked best for you? Thanks!
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Never heard of a banana circle til I read your post. Although I've had great success planting nanas in old horse manure piles. Looked on line for example - Yes lots of permaculture sites on banana circles. A six ft diameter three ft deep hole /compost pile with bananas planted around the perimeter. That would be about 19-20 ft circumference. How many varieties are you planting? and how much room is needed to access the compost pile in the center of the circle...
Also, you would have to stand in the compost pile to reach the inside of the nana plants
Just me but doesn't seem very practical, especially when the mats expand. Separate holes or planting on a compost row appeals more to me..
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Banana Circles

It has been discussed in the forum already!.....Please check this threads/posts:


Banana Circle Critique


Should bananas be planted in rows or a circle?


My Banana Circle experiment



Hopefully it helps!......





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Old 10-09-2019, 08:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Banana Circles

I've been doing Permaculture for 10 years and have not done a banana circle. I need to know more about it as it does not seem to make much sense to me--the bananas won't stay in a circle as they gradually reproduce. Feeding them by heavy composting materials and layers around the areas they are sprouting from and the base of the trees plus plenty of rain in the rainy season and then supplementing the water when it's the winter/dry season here (Florida, Zone 9 A/B) keeps them going well. And I put them under the canopies of large oak trees to protect them from the frosts and freezes we can get on occasion in the winter months.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Banana circles are good at retaining moisture. When I lived in Eastern Central FL, we had a long dry season every year in summer. If you have the same rain pattern, then a banana circle is a good idea. It also allows you to condense numerous plants in a small space- which could include species of nitrogen-fixing plants. Just make sure that you mulch the circle well (around the perimeter mound), and put your compost scraps in the middle. Put taller cultivars on the north end of it, and your shorter or dwarf plants on the south side of it. You can also run a gutter spout down into the hole- just don't let it get flooded.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Have to say after reading the links above discussing banana circles that they seem to lead to the same experience and conclusion as myself. They are constantly changing and evolving and growing and producing and then need to be cut down as they produce so just keeping it in a circle doesn't quite make sense. Maybe it's good to get it started? And mixing other plants in amongst them could work if the pups are mostly frequently dug out and given away or sold--or planted elsewhere on the property if there's room. I just maintain "patches" of bananas, keeping the varieties separate and they are producing wonderfully. I cut down and clean up the really brown leaves (sparingly, not too much) and lay them around and among the patches to feed and water the bananas. The trunks are LOADED with water. All male guests are invited to "water" the bananas with their nutrient filled water (discretely, of course).
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Quote:
Originally Posted by zfallon84 View Post
Banana circles are good at retaining moisture. When I lived in Eastern Central FL, we had a long dry season every year in summer. If you have the same rain pattern, then a banana circle is a good idea. It also allows you to condense numerous plants in a small space- which could include species of nitrogen-fixing plants. Just make sure that you mulch the circle well (around the perimeter mound), and put your compost scraps in the middle. Put taller cultivars on the north end of it, and your shorter or dwarf plants on the south side of it. You can also run a gutter spout down into the hole- just don't let it get flooded.
Not sure when or how long you lived in Eastern Central FL but all of Florida has a rainy season summer, starting approximately June 1- November 30. Starts out slow, (in June) then accelerates in July, Aug., Sept., gradually slowing down in Oct. and Nov. Bananas just absolutely love those months and need no help with watering or feeding then. It's when it cools down in the late Fall through the Winter that the cool and dry can slow them down to a type of almost dormancy and if the temp really dips down with cold fronts in Dec. through Feb
they can get severely damaged or even die. Maybe when you lived there it was an unusual and not typical dry stretch in the summer?
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Quote:
Originally Posted by PC View Post
Not sure when or how long you lived in Eastern Central FL but all of Florida has a rainy season summer, starting approximately June 1- November 30. Starts out slow, (in June) then accelerates in July, Aug., Sept., gradually slowing down in Oct. and Nov. Bananas just absolutely love those months and need no help with watering or feeding then. It's when it cools down in the late Fall through the Winter that the cool and dry can slow them down to a type of almost dormancy and if the temp really dips down with cold fronts in Dec. through Feb
they can get severely damaged or even die. Maybe when you lived there it was an unusual and not typical dry stretch in the summer?
all of north florida has been in a draught for better than a month.

I have 2 banana circles, one is more like a banana oval. 15 ft in diameter. I started the first one last year. love em, my property is big enough I don't worry about the perfect circle.

last fall I threw 1 1/2 ft. of leaves over several hundred banana leaves and with the several hundred banana leaves that hit the circle last year and after composting I have a layer that is barely 3 inches thick.
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Thanks for input.... Been a few days to respond as this site is now down more than its up. Thanks for the links HMelendez. I did a search or two and little showed up, until I tried it again today and a few did pop up. Go figure.

A key reason I'm doing this as it seemed a good way to create compost (and bananas help hide it from sight). Everything grows so fast down here that I can't bring myself to keep putting our yard waste on the curb for pickup. and I'm tired of buying bags of compost. We have such sandy soil that needs some help! I'm hoping this might be a little easier to help maintain my banana mats and to experiment with nitrogen fixing ground covers. It not too pretty to mulch with banana leaves but I want to use them.

Not overdoing it, have a raji puri, Goldfinger, and Blue Java outside the ring / berm, easy access from one end. Funny you recommended the downspout zfallon84, I used one and directed some of the rainwater into it.

will see how it all works out... Thanks!
d
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Quote:
Originally Posted by twotallgirls View Post
Thanks for input.... Been a few days to respond as this site is now down more than its up. Thanks for the links HMelendez. I did a search or two and little showed up, until I tried it again today and a few did pop up. Go figure.

A key reason I'm doing this as it seemed a good way to create compost (and bananas help hide it from sight). Everything grows so fast down here that I can't bring myself to keep putting our yard waste on the curb for pickup. and I'm tired of buying bags of compost. We have such sandy soil that needs some help! I'm hoping this might be a little easier to help maintain my banana mats and to experiment with nitrogen fixing ground covers. It not too pretty to mulch with banana leaves but I want to use them.

Not overdoing it, have a raji puri, Goldfinger, and Blue Java outside the ring / berm, easy access from one end. Funny you recommended the downspout zfallon84, I used one and directed some of the rainwater into it.

will see how it all works out... Thanks!
d
you will still want to fertilize them.
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Old 10-15-2019, 04:32 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

If you're dumping fresh yard waste you might be doing your banana a disservice. Fresh waste ties up nitrogen as it composts. Instead, compost your yard waste separately and, after you have finished compost, amend your soil with it.

These days, for plants as a whole, it's generally recommended against digging a hole and filling the hole with good soil, amendments, etc. Plants will tend to turn the hole (now filled, of course) into a pot and not spread their roots as far. Instead, consider amending the top couple of inches with compost. This may also help avoid upsetting the microbiome in your soil (in nature, the top soil is often disturbed but not lower layers).

Even with a well prepared bed and even with years of soil improvement, you will likely get better results with fertilizing. I top dress with an organic fertilizer (maintaining that microbiome!) but there's nothing wrong with inorganic fertilizer (and may possibly increase yields).
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Old 10-15-2019, 05:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Right there with ya'll! I do fertilize on a schedule (Going Bananas 16-8-24 ), dress with bagged cow compost, occasional magnesium sulphate , mulch, mulch, mulch. And working on the right foliar spray as they fruit (fish emulsion / potassium / little bit of Miracle Gro ). To date my Raja Puri and a mystery banana have flowered; I can't wait for my Saba and Pitogo!. I say "working" on it as the fish emulsion isn't a pleasant aroma when I'm sitting on porch in the evening. It'll probably get applied to soil going forward (or maybe shift to seaweed).
Good point SoFloBanana. But I've been allotted a certain space for my garden adventures and a circle fits the bill so in goes the yard waste for now. I so want it to work... I'll update if I see pro/cons on my circle efforts.
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Old 10-13-2020, 11:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Quick update on my banana circle experiment. Let’s call it what it really is: a big (successful) compost pit. So it really is amazing at how much yard stuff I’ve piled on and how fast they’ve broken down.… I keep it topped with as much garden “waste” as I can; a 4 ft. pile will drop in half in about a month. For the huge amount of stuff I’ve added, I may have only created about 6 inches of rich soil (and happy worms). I think my Raja Puri have benefited the most as they are downslope from where water flows thru pile… they grow fast, pop pups, and the bunches are big.

I was chopping banana leaves up in the beginning but in FL it breaks down so fast that I just toss it on now; too much work to cut up in summer heat. Same with banana logs; they break down very fast regardless. I attempted to turn it for aerobic purposes early on but too much work and no difference I could discern. Plus last time a big 5 ft. eastern indigo slithered out; I don’t want to disturb him as he’s a good garden companion.

I planned on adding sweet potatoes but I never got around to it with all the extra time / changes running a business under COVID required. Will try again in the spring. Actually, my Heliconia grow/spread so fast that they’ve invaded somewhat; I transplanted clumps to initially help anchor the soil and block unsightly pile from neighbors. I constantly cut them and add to the pile. When I tossed / covered some spiral ginger cuttings on the pile they promptly rooted; I now add them last to the pile so they dry out.

Researching banana circles on internet was fun but just about every article was how to create them and the wonderful benefits, but rarely what the actual results were (like to see year 2 or 3 please). My guess is after year 1, most are just compost piles with happy bananas plants around them.
I sense that the mat is expanding and will just take over eventually.

Happy growing!
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Old 10-13-2020, 08:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

Banana circles are all about finding a way to keep constant moisture and nutrients for the bananas. It is a method that works but isn’t ideal it’s just very simple. If you have irrigation that can water the area where you are planting the bananas then you probably do not need to create a banana circle. I call my area a banana pit. It’s not dug out low but the center area in between the two main trees is slightly slower. I throw a lot of food scraps yard scraps in there and the bananas thrive. But keeping them in a circular shape is unnecessary from the research I’ve done.
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Old 10-14-2020, 08:24 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Banana Circles

After a couple years the circle gets complete and access to the inner pit/plants is greatly reduced. for pup management and removing pups for selling I find it to not be ideal. The good ole' row method for bananas is just as easy to grow as you have access to both sides of the mat to add food and irrigate.
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