I’d like to take a vote….how many times is it acceptable to tell someone how happy you are with yourself for achieving something? 2 or maybe 3 at the most? More than this and it starts to get a little monotonous doesn’t it? Around 5 you start looking for a rolling pin or something sharp and beyond 7 definately a bullet. Well I recon my patience exceeded the bullet point last night when I heard for what seemed like the 11th time that Chris was so pleased that he’d ‘finally removed that stump from the banana paw paw circle’! I can assure you by then I felt like marching down to the garden, dragging that stump up to the house and donging him on the head with it! I was more than relieved when I found him comatose in the ‘psychiatrists chair’.
I should be more patient. It was evident that Uncle Robot and Chris had worked tirelessly all day on a tricky corner of the garden and when I arrived home they were in the final stages of hacking the main root of the stump from it’s anchor. I can assure you I was very pleased to witness the actuall severing and not the two hour ordeal beforehand. That would have been total torture. No denying it’s a great achievement and will provide a lot more usable space, but I’ve never seen anybody quite so happy over removing a stump before. I think he needs a holiday.
After the excitment settled down, Uncle Robot made me step down to the bottom of the garden. He wanted to show me something. I got half way down and he said ‘keep going’ I said ‘what am I looking for?’ he said ‘keep going…okay stop there…now turn around and look up’ which I did. He said ‘don’t the rock walls look fantastic’ and I couldn’t agree more. The rain had cleaned off all the dust and the the natural colours of the stone were even more highlighted. As imagined the backyard is really starting to take shape and as he works his way down the eastern boundary where the fruit forest will be, he will have completed a significant part of the terraces. As fruit trees love a lot of water it’s the section of garden we’ll re-use our washing machine water for irrigation, including on the banana paw paw circle which sits at the top of this section.
What is a banana paw-paw circle anyway? Well basically, bananas and paw-paws grow well together and are planted in a circle around a central compost heap. The compost heap is loaded up with the normal kitchen scraps and other goodies like shredded paper, sawdust, lucern, grass clippings and just about anything you put in your regular compost bin. As its not covered, if you have lots of little native animals around like we do, then either bury the contents or exclude stuff they’re particularly attracted to. As it starts to decompose it provides the roots with a direct nutrient fix which is perfect for these gross feeders. Bananas are actually perennial herbs which sucker at the base. The mother plant dies off after it’s fruited which gives the small plants an opportunity to develop into fruiting plants themselves. The problem is that many suckers will grow off one plant and you only want to keep one or two otherwise they won’t fruit due to competition. The excess suckers can be cut off and replanted further around the edge of the compost over time creating an almost enclosed circle. By maintaining your compost as a rich food source for your bananas and paw paws, they will continue growing around the favourable nutrient rich edges of the circular compost heap. It’s a neat idea and if you’re not irrigating with grey-water, you can companion grow root vegetables such as taro, ginger or cassava. I’ve even heard of people putting a wooden platform in the centre over the compost heap, setting up a solar shower and using the screen of bananas and paw paws as a shower curtain. But this could only work if your neighbours are hippies too.
Our banana paw-paw circle bed is almost complete and will be an important part of our permaculture garden as bananas are a big part of our diet. The recent prices, which have reached as high as $15 a kilo as a result of the Queensland floods earlier this year demonstrate why it’s a great idea to be self-reliant. We’ve got a young William Cavendish banana to go in and expect more will be available once the warmer weather hits.
After 9 solid days of rain, we finally have a break in the weather and the week ahead is looking promising at this stage. It will be interesting to see how the plants come along with all that rain and a peek at the potatoes yesterday afternoon told me that they have enjoyed the week’s moist conditions. Although they’re not in the direct rain, they’ve responded very well to the humid conditions. Some of them now require their final cover of compost and potting mix before they’re let to grow over the coming weeks ready for harvest.
Robert is right. The rock walls do look awesome and will be complimented beautifully when they’re full of life, wonderful food and colour. Bit by bit we’re getting there but we’re counting down the days to our holidays when we can really get stuck into it. Only six sleeps to go!