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Growing Vegetables in the Tropics  

 

Angela
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December 12, 2006 10:41 am  

Anyone have the name of a good book that could steer me in the right direction for growing vegetables in the tropics? I am particularly interested in growing lettuces, but am concerned about the excessive heat. Has anyone used shade coverings, or is it really a loosing battle?

Also, growing cut flowers - which are the fastest and easiest to grow under such, sometimes, harsh conditions?

I am involved with a hotel in Tobago and since this board is such a wealth of information, and the growing conditions are so similar (although perhaps a bit hotter down there), I hoped someone might be able to help.

Thanks in advance.

Angela


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danieljude
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December 12, 2006 11:08 am  

Hello Angela. If you look through the strings on this board, there was a very healthy discussion not that long ago about gardening. I have found that cut flowers, if you are speaking of the type that are generally grown on the mainland, I have not found any that won't grow, I do not use shade cloth but do water heavily and deeply, and the annuals do last an average of 9 months, so they do become quite large.

An easier way (I think) of rounding things out are to seek out flowers that LOVE this climate. The giant bush salvia (originally from E. Africa), Fire Spikes from the Tropical Americas, etc. They hold up well in vases, and bloom prolifically.

Best wishes, and I do hope you can find the thread,

Dan


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Loyal Reader
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December 12, 2006 4:41 pm  

Depending on where you live, you'll have mixed success with lettuce. It does tend to bolt, due to the heat.

You might want to research Dr. Howard Resh's work on Anguilla at the Cuisinart resort- it is fascinating (and tasty!)

Best,

LR


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Angela
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December 13, 2006 12:04 am  

Thanks for the input. Bad news about the lettuce. Kind of what I thought, but I was hoping there would be a way.

Angela


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dougtamjj
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December 13, 2006 2:21 am  

Hi Angela,
I am new to the island but I am growing several different varieties of lettuce. Just seedling right now in the shade of bigger vegetables. I will let you know how it turns out.
Tammy


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STT Resident
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December 13, 2006 10:40 am  

Good morning, Angela,

As Dan pointed out there was quite a big discussion on growing here so try and find that thread which will give you lots of good info. The shade cloth works well but frankly I found that lettuce-growing wasn't worth the time and effort. Plus with all my veggies I had to surround the beds with chicken wire to keep out the iguanas!


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Angela
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December 13, 2006 4:36 pm  

Thanks, everyone.

I did read the previous posts and discussions on the board. However, I was looking for the name of a book, or such, which might go into more detail, etc.

I am really curious about the use of shade cloths - lettuce is an absolute must, and lots of it!
So far, the article suggested by Loyal Reader has proven most interesting, although a bit more involved than I would like to get right now.

I will persevere in my search and let you know if I came across anything that might prove helpful to fellow islanders. The sun is both a blessing and a hinderance, sometimes!
Angela


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STT Resident
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December 13, 2006 5:05 pm  

Dear Angela,

Not sure how much more detail you need and, since you're looking into info for Tobago, much of what you've already researched from the Virgin Islands won't be relevant there inasmuch as gardening techniques on STX differ a lot from gardening techniques on STT or STJ. STT and STJ are volcanic islands and STX isn't (different soil make-up.) Different critters and bugs either inhabit or visit different islands and I don't think you're going to find any real definitive in any book which will offer you an easy "overall" education.

The very best advice to give you for whatever island you're on is to look around and ask around from residents. If lettuce is your thing then you'll surely find a way to grow it, come thick or thin (pun intended!) I could tell you a whole bunch about growing lettuce here on STT but my advice from here isn't going to translate to Tobago.

Even on our islands here, Northside is different from Southside and East from West.

As an afterthought and as an adjunct to Dan's post about flowers, I always planted marigolds around my tomatoes and peppers. They're very hardy and not only provide lovely flowers for cutting but they also act as a bug-deterrent for those particular plants. Again, they're basically annuals but they'll last for a couple of years here before stringing out. Cheers and good luck!


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mrnatural
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February 1, 2011 4:55 pm  

Hola to all

I am living in the Dominican Republic Originally from Vancouver Canada moved here a year ago to set up a Permaculture Research Institute Demonstration and Educational Center.

I am available to travel caribbean wide to give lectures workshop on Permaculture.

cheers

Paul Modde
Founder Executive Director
Dominican Republic Permaculture Research Institute Demonstration Educational Center
Phone 829 264 4168

patience needed to contact me by phone as signal in valley isnt always good but email works fine


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ms411
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February 1, 2011 8:38 pm  

Angela, I think there has been success with aquaculture. I think UVI on St Croix has a research garden/farm. I just threw an article away about St Croix's store that sells produce from their "farm."

You might want to check University of the West Indies to see what they offer in terms of horticulture. I don't know if they have a Cooperative Extension equivalent.


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Alexandra
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February 1, 2011 9:02 pm  

Angela, I think there has been success with aquaculture. I think UVI on St Croix has a research garden/farm. I just threw an article away about St Croix's store that sells produce from their "farm."

You might want to check University of the West Indies to see what they offer in terms of horticulture. I don't know if they have a Cooperative Extension equivalent.

Angela's post was from back in 2006...


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beachguyvi
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February 1, 2011 9:06 pm  

Angela,
I am on St. John. We have an amazing organic farm here that grows tons of lettuce, sprouts and tomatoes and supplies most of the restaurants. It is Coral Bay Garden Center and the owner is Josephine. You can call them at (340) 776-2099. Josephine is really nice and she might have some ideas for you.


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beachguyvi
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February 1, 2011 9:10 pm  

Thanks Alexandra. Maybe next time I should look before replying. Duh :S


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Angela
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February 2, 2011 4:02 pm  

Thanks Beach - The post might be old but gardening is a forever thing...........

Great contact information. I'll follow up on it and hopefully find new ways to solve problems.


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beachguyvi
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February 2, 2011 4:33 pm  

Angela,
I am glad that you replied. Josephine is great and hopefully will have some ideas for you. For whatever it is worth, I live on St. John and have no problem at all growing lettuce anytime of the year. I have not had a problem with bolting. I keep it well watered and it gets full sun.
You may want to Google Earthbox. They work great here as they keep everything well watered.
Steve


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Alexandra
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February 3, 2011 1:04 am  

Does anyone have a source for basil plants? I would like to fill a bunch of pots with a few varieties if I can find plant starts on STX


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aquaponics
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February 3, 2011 10:43 am  

Alexandra, you can get in touch via pm and I will have extra basil starts in a couple weeks (green and purple). I'm at UVI, St. Croix.

Angela, as some have mentioned here we have had success with aquaculture. There was an article on the front page of the AVIS just last weekend. our lettuce does great, although we are growing floating in tanks of fish water. We never shade the crops, but do have problems with some varieties in the hot summer months. We have to choose the best varieties of lettuce or switch out crops to ones that thrive in the heat. Contact me if you want more info.

Charlie


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Alexandra
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February 3, 2011 4:59 pm  

Alexandra, you can get in touch via pm and I will have extra basil starts in a couple weeks (green and purple). I'm at UVI, St. Croix.

Charlie

I tried PMing you Charlie, but it said your inbox is full.


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Juanita
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February 3, 2011 5:37 pm  

Don't forget the Agrifest (the ag fair) is soon. Feb. 19-21, I think. That's on St. Croix. Lots of plants, veggies, etc. and good food stands. I'm a little bummed, I planned a trip during that time, so I'll miss it this year.


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BajanBlood
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February 23, 2011 6:15 pm  

For those trying to grow tomatoes that taste good, add Epsom salts to the soil when you plant them. I grew up on NJ tomatoes so I am pretty picky about them. The Epsom salts work wonders for areas that just don't seem to grow a decent tomato. Remember, the best tomatoes come from very sandy areas, so do not plant them in too rich of soil.
Also, my favorite cherry type tomato is from Johnny's Seeds and is called . Matt's Wild Cherry They are tiny but taste like a beefsteak tomato. They come back every year, all over my property in NY, from the tomatoes that dropped off the plants. I call them my volunteers. lol. They like the heat in South Jersey (95+ for weeks) and require less water than the big plants. I freeze big bags full and throw them in spaghetti sauce in the winter. Their skins are so thin that you do not even notice them. Great in cooking and salads since they are so small you do not even need to cut them in half. (about the size of a maraschino cherry). I can not wait to try these in STX.


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aquaponics
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February 23, 2011 9:12 pm  

alexandria I just sent you a pm. Thanks for letting me know about my inbox!


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mgpilot
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February 24, 2011 10:36 am  

Bought 4 planter boxes from kmart west end and have basil, tarragon, chives, catnip, dill, and thyme growing. The basil and dill are growing like crazy! Not surprising, I can't keep our damn cat out of the catnip but oh well. Also bought a topsy turvy planter and put a tomato plant in which has really taken off quickly.


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buck
 buck
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March 9, 2011 3:09 am  

Bajanblood- will they ship to Stx?


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aquaponics
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March 9, 2011 12:12 pm  

yes Buck, Johnny's send to the USVI, and quick!

something like johnnyseeds.com


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