I am currently in Burkina Faso a country in Subsahara Africa with a tropical arid climate and a 3 months raining season (July-Sept) .
I am volunteering for a few weeks in a small orphanage in the second biggest city of that country.
Before leaving that orphanage I am trying to plant some moringa trees and do a compost heap for them. More importantly I'd very much want to set up a banana circle for them. A nice place which they can use as a compost pit, because at the moment they are burning all their extra raining season biomass
However the raining season has pretty much ended here thus I question the timing of the banana circle. Knowing that the Bananas circle will have to wait 9 months until the next raining season is it still a good idea ?
- If I do a 2 meters wide banana circle (6-7 bananas plants) how much watering per week would it need to survive until the next raining season ? (as far as mulch is concerned : there is a good deal of scrap food 15 persons are staying here, however not much of other biomass during the dry season)
- If making the bananas survive for 9 dry months would be hard, could I do a circle with some other plants, more arid hardy ?
- Which other plants would you recommend ?
- Is a Cassava/Manioc circle interesting for example ?
Thanks for the help, I have to leave the orphanage 10 days from now but with your advice I am sure I will be able to do something for them :p
The water requirements can easily be found on a quick google search.
http://www.fao.org/nr/water/cropinfo_banana.html 2200 mm of water.
Assuming a banana circle of 4 m in diameter (2 m hole), it gives you approx. 10 square meter.
Let's take 9 month (the dry season), you would need 1650 mm, which are 16500 liters of water, or 61 liters a day. I assume that the water requirements are higher, as the calculations above are based on data from the FAO with spacing of 2 by 2 to 5 by 5 meters.
In short: a huge work.
The only way I see it being doable would be to connect the grey water (the sink of a shower, or the kitschen) to the pit. That's what the banana circles were designed for actually.
It can be through a pipe, or with an open channel as long as it drains completely (mosquitoes!).
Location: Bamako, Mali
posted 5 years ago
Thank you so much for your answer. You introduce me to a new way of thinking, before I didn't try to evaluate the water requirements by using the available information on the different crops.
It looks like the banana circle is impossible to set up at the current moment.
Would you or any other poster have some other idea to take advantage of a compost pit in the tropic ? Something that would be easy to manage for the orphanage employees where I am at ?
We have our Homestead in Thailand. The rain season is normally from mid Jun until October. I planted a banana circle with 5 bananas around November or December (can't quite remember) and made it small so it was easier to manage as I knew we wouldn't be getting any rain for a while.
All our bananas died after I first planted them, only to re-emerge a few days later and I still water them about every 2 - 3 days with 5 litres of water per tree (one ordinary bucket). It is still dry season here and I have 4 trees left. Still do the same, 5lt bucket of water to each plant every 2 - 3 days, I keep meaning to plumb our bathroom grey water to it, but just have so many other things to do right now.
I keep ripping out sweet potato vines which have found their way in there but have given up now as they obviously love hanging out with the 'nanas'. There is only me and my wife and we use our scraps normally in our papaya circle so they don't get a lot of extras from us I am thinking of dusting over it with some pig poo soon. I just keep a light covering of straw over them as it melts (decomposes) pretty quick out here.
Fingers crossed for the rain season really, only a few more weeks to go
LMAO at 61 lt a day, that's why mathematicians make terrible farmers...lol
Have you checked how much rain falls in the rain season? Well you 'could' take that from the total needed and say if that's enough why bother watering at all.
We know we have to look at things holistically though. I reckon you could feed about 12 easily with 61 litres a day. My ones do ok on 5 lt every few days, although it's only been about 40-44C for about the last month here so if it's hotter there it could be different. I'm waiting for the rainy season to super boost the plants and give me a break...lol
A compost pit sounds pretty easy to organise also just make sure you water it, you could use the leaves of a local big leaf tree to cover it also to help to stop evaporation. I put food in mine as well and take advantage of cockroach composting, just be careful when you give it a turn every now and again, the little blighters come running about everywhere, great fun if you have your chickens nearby.
If you have spare rice why not try to make bokashi type composting also?
Location: Bamako, Mali
posted 4 years ago
Thank you so much for all those informations ! Hope your bananas survive until June so you let us know what happened then !
I'll be looking for it, best of luck !
posted 4 years ago
Have you thought about making palm circles or moringa circles?
Also considering Burkina Faso's weather (from what I have researched), it might be better to look at ways to harvest/divert water in times of flood/drought. Building land to catch or divert rainwater may not be as much fun as watching things grow, but once you get it right you can grow a lot of other things.
I'm not sure if you are in the north or the south, but some ideas might come from checking out some of the 'greening the desert': https://youtu.be/K1rKDXuZ8C0 clips?
There are other videos made by Bill Mollison specifically about how permaculture land management has transformed villages in Africa using live trees as windbreaks (I'm guessing that moringa species might work there?) and more.
You have been there a while now, so look to see what the land needs and try to supply what it needs. Are there any weeds that can provide good ground cover?
We have let a few 'weeds' (pioneers) grow into trees and already there are areas of our farm which looked like desert last year with smaller plants growing under them.
Anyway, just a few ideas if you are interested in working permaculture into your area.
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