Let's see what pineapples have to offer to your permaculture design, and how other parts of your design can look after the needs of the pineapples.
Hardly any attention and not much water. In cooler climates they need a lot of sun, in very hot climates they like growing under a bit of shade.
Pineapples do appreciate thick mulch and good soil and compost. They may need additional fertiliser in the early days of their life.
Here is another way I use pineapples as barrier plants in my garden: I grow sweet potatoes as a ground cover under many of my fruit trees.
(It seemed like a good idea at the time, I talk more about it on the page about growing sweet potato.)
And then the wallabies discovered them. For non-Australians: wallabies are small kangaroos. They dig up the whole place. Man, can they dig...
To protect my trees (citrus trees for example have shallow roots, they really don't like all this digging) I have started growing pineapples around them in a double circle.
The idea is this:
Inside the circle the tree roots and sweet potatoes are protected. Outside the circle the wallabies clean up the left over sweet potato for me.
Sweet potatoes go rampant during our humid, wet summers and try to take over the whole place. Without the wallabies' help I would have lost the battle long ago.
As the tree grows up I always plant new rows of suckers on the outside, the inside rows eventually get shaded out, die, and mulch the tree.
The outside rows increase in diameter, which is good, because pineapples are forever multiplying and I never know where to put them all anyway. This way I can plant more and more without running around looking for new places for them.
Leaves from the tree, spent flowers etc. drop down and mulch and feed the pineapples and sweet potatoes, and in my extreme climate the pineapples love that bit of shade the tree offers.
Other leaves and stuff get caught in the barrier and feed the pineapples and the tree as they break down. The pineapple barrier is on the edge of the crown and outwards a bit, exactly where the trees feeder roots are.
The insignificant pineapple root system doesn't compete with the tree. Rather the pineapple thicket acts as a mulch trap and makes sure that the area is always shaded, moist, and thickly covered in organic matter.
The trees are happy, the sweet potatoes are happy, the pineapples are happy, the wallabies are happy, I'm happy. All I have to do is dig up a sweet potato myself when I need some, and pull off any big pineapple suckers I see and stick them in ground while I'm there.
You see, win, win, win all around. Talk about turning problems into solutions...
(I admit I don't know yet how I will get to the fruit when the trees start fruiting... I guess one idea would be to put one or two pineapples in a tub in the circle, then you can take the tub out and have an opening... I'll work it out when the time comes.)
Do you have any permaculture ideas or solutions yourself? It doesn't have to be about pineapples. Anything that works particularly well in your garden? I'd love to hear about it!