If you’re like me you make a fair amount of waste — in particular, organic kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and other things you’d rather not have to pack in your garbage can, let fester, and then deliver to some other place. Come to think of it, you may have also pulled weeds and clumps of… stuff that you’d just as soon transform, if not simply manage on-site.
Here’s what works for me: banana plants. (I can hear the guy in Canada reading this right now) “oh jeez ya banana growin’ hoser… take off eh! My shit’s all frozen eh and you’re growin’ bananas eh.” (cultural stereotype eh?) Fortunately, his shit is all frozen, so he don’t have to worry about it until the end of March maybe…heh…love to kid the northerners..)
In the case of kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and the like, I just keep a dwarf Cuban red banana plant growing outside my kitchen door. I’m sure you can use any type of banana plant. I use the Cuban red dwarf ’cause it doesn’t grow too tall, and it’s nice and red, AND it makes real good fried banana munchies (broke da mouth, with a little butter and maple syrup in fat times..although they’re getting leaner). Anyway, bananas are pretty heavy feeders, and so after initially making compost bins, thinking of Helen and Scott Nearing and other sensible (albeit temperate climate) composting folks…and then watching my chicken wire-walled compost piles grow into tropical grass versions of.. that hair-thing we used to create by sadistically rubbing, in circular fashion, someone’s hair (you know who you are), right at that bald spot place..so it’d create this super-lame hair-ball-tangle…
…weed-gnarl boulder-things…you know what I’m saying? I mean, with compost bins like that, who needs enemies, right?
But I digress, or as they say, been there, done that. But what is really neat about banana plants-as-composters (I guess you could call it ‘sheet-mulching’ too) is that they even magically keep the stink down. It’s the weirdest thing, but after pulling out the banana clump for whatever reason, the kitchen scraps were much more inspired to be stanky (pilau). Then, after replanting an offshoot of the pulled Cuban red plant, the smells most decidedly subsided (is that like some form of alliteration?). Here in the upper Puna forest it seems that the apple variety is maybe the hardiest. (I’ll bet there are some cooking varieties that go well too, I’m just not that hep about them. Anyone got rhizomes to trade?)
In summary, use banana plants as composters and weed-eaters. (I’ll bet if you planted a hearty circle of banana plants they could practically digest that long-deceased Aerostar van you insist on holding on to…)
Bananas seem to grow well in puka-like places where stuff naturally gathers, although my kitchen scraps composter Cuban red does great just outside the door (easy tossing distance, that is) on flat lava, getting constant offerings from the cutting board, etc. It won’t fruit as fast as the apple variety it seems, but that’s actually good in that I won’t need to mess with it. Of course when you finally do harvest your bananas, the remaining broke-apart stalk makes a great mulch full of potassium and phosphorus, not to mention the keiki that spring up from it. A few pineapple plants also grow well alongside this efficient kitchen composter.
(I guess ‘Peeing on your Pineapple Plant’ will have to wait for another installment at Island Notes..)
Until next time, let the hungry banana plant..digest your…stinky waste.
(There’s got to be a trendier way to say that.)