I absolutely hate the plastic pots that I see littering many gardens. I thought, there must be some sort of leaf or bark that could be made into a suitable pot. So I looked up banana leaf pots on Google Images and sure enough, there are a few others just as smart as me.
I was searching specifically for quite deep pots that could be used for young tree starts, so that the taproot could develop normally. I didn't find any of those, but it's pretty simple. A banana leaf that is 2 feet across , has a section of material that radiates one foot from the central rib. It is really easy to cut along that rib to get a fairly flat piece of material a foot wide and up to 8 feet long. The leaf can then either be sliced or torn to make one foot segments of any desired width. They tear quite easily from the side of the leaf toward the central rib. Many will already be torn in that dimension because of the wind. Then it's just a matter of rolling it in the shape of a paper towel roll, and pinning the edge together. This can be done with a toothpick size piece of bamboo or elastic bands could be used.
I envision pots that stand a foot tall with a diameter of about 3 in. So we would want to tear the leaf into segments that are 1 foot square, so there's room for overlap at the joint.
Tall skinny pots would not be self-supporting. Instead they would be packed tightly together inside large baskets or on starter tables that have a raised edge. The young starts could be kept in this sort of pot until their taproots begin to reach the bottom or until the banana leaf begins to decay. Then it's time to plant them out. There's no need to remove the pot, since it will disintegrate and become part of the compost that we're planting into.
Pots can also be made for vegetable starts. Something 3 inches tall is enough , so you get 3 pots out of every 1 foot segment. Banana leaves are often shredded in the wind, so pieces as narrow as 4 in could be used for small pots. But there is absolutely no shortage in areas where bananas grow , so no need to try to use every little bit of that resource. Most leaves will yield 10 or more of the 1 foot pots and 30 or more 3 inch pots.
Food serving dishes
It is common throughout the tropics for some types of food to be served on a leaf or in a leaf bowl.
In the Philippines, I bought some spicy peanuts from a lady who had made her own leaf bowls from the bananas that grew in her yard. She told me that she does not like all of the plastic litter that plagues her city. I also bought a sticky rice dessert dish, that had been cooked in a banana leaf bowl. The perfect container for street food. Biodegradable, and not in the way that those biodegradable plastics work. I attended a private get together at someone's home and she served things in banana bowls. It wasn't so much about avoiding washing dishes as it was about making sure that her dishes didn't end up spread all over the yard or taken home with somebody. There was a thick stew and a sticky rice dish. Relatives were sent home with the excess, and there was no need to tell them that they must bring the Tupperware back. :-)
We don't all have access to banana leaves. But there are many other types of large leaf that could be made into some sort of planting pot , probably not the big ones that I need. I will make mine in the Philippines, since that's where these young trees are needed. Where I live in Canada, we have several trees that have a nice big leaf. Unfortunately they aren't available in the spring when they are needed. So you might have to dry, press and rehydrate in the spring. A bit tedious. We do have birch bark and I have rolled it into that exact shape. Paper or cardboard could work. Not quite as elegant or as green , but not bad.
If you have any other pictures of leaf bowls and how they are constructed, drop them here. I'm still shopping for land, so you won't see my pots anytime soon. I will be there within two months, so I may mess with some of the material, as a test.