Case Study: Tropical Garden

The image above shows part of a permaculture design for a riverside plot in India, with an approximate location for a new home, with a natural swimming pool. A path leads down between fruit trees and a forest garden to a seating area and polyculture vegetable beds situated near the riverside end of the property. 

The property enjoys a tropical climate, with a summer, monsoon, and winter season each year. Rainfall is an average of 200 cm annually, mostly, of course, during the monsoon season. Local climate and conditions allow for a wide range of crops to be grown, and dense planting schemes can be used to maximise the use of the space.

Managing water effectively is a crucial concern on this property. It is vitally important, as in other schemes for tropical climates of this type, that planting and landscaping effectively manage water shortage in dry seasons, and can store water and prevent run-off during the monsoon. 

One interesting detail of this case study is the concept of the banana circle. A banana circle is a circular layout of bananas and companion crops laid out on a raised ring around a pit filled with organic matter. This is a valuable permaculture idea. In warmer climate zones where banana trees grow, it is one of the best ways to create a sustainable edible garden. A banana circle incorporates a number of different organic gardening ideas.

Over time, compostable materials are continually added into the pit at the centre of your banana circle, and water is added to support the system when necessary. By planting in this way, the amount of water and nutrients that are wasted can be reduced. As the bananas grow, they will provide shade and allow for the growth of a range of other edible/useful plants nearby.

In this scheme, the banana circles are incorporated into a larger forest garden design. A tropical food forest looks very different from one in a temperate climate, but many of the ideas and advantages are the same.

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