Having grown Bananas and Papayas for several years now, we have realised a few things.
Both Bananas and Papayas, need a lot of water
Both plants need a lot nutrients in the form of manure/ fertiliser/ compost
Both plants grow best in dancing shade/ partial shade
We have made the mistake on planting stand alone papayas, and bananas interspersed through the farm, but when it comes to watering them, this becomes a huge challenge leading to a lot of stress and work for them farm help, and erratic quality of fruit.
This observation led us to realise that the best way to grow bananas and papayas are in circles, in the middle of other trees and close to the source of water. Trees like Moringa, which has a dancing shadow, are ideal to have around these circles.
A banana/ papaya circle is nothing but a pit with a mound around it. The plants are planted on the mound, and the pit is used to create in situ compost, which is ideal for these plants. Keeping the circle open in the direction of the flow of water, ensures that water automatically gets into the mouth of this circle, and keep the soil moistened at all times.
We identified a couple of places within the mango grove to create these circles. While digging within the trees, one has to be careful to not damage the roots of the existing trees. The soil is simple piled up on the edges. Keep an opening on the dies where you expect the water to flow in naturally during rains, or watering.
Finally, we piled up a lot of organic matter like leaf litter, branches, twigs and some cow manure into the centre of this mound. Water nicely, and plant the papayas and bananas on the mound about a few feet apart.
We will keep you posted on how these do in future blogs!