Vegetable Gardening...
 

Vegetable Gardening on St. Croix  

 

CaptainMalibu
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October 19, 2015 1:46 am  

After reading posts here for a while now, I figure it's time to start asking some of the many questions in advance of our move to St. Croix in June 2016.

Once questions I have relates to gardening. It has been my assumption that due to the tropical climate, many vegetable crops can be grown year round. Some preliminary research seems to suggest otherwise.

Any gardeners here who can shed some light on this topic?


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Alana33
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October 19, 2015 4:44 am  

We just have been thru several months of extreme drought conditions, at least here, in STT and more so in St. Croix which thankfully seems to be over. I can say, personally, it's tougher here than stateside. It very much depends on your topsoil in location, your constant attention , dedication as well as what you wish to grow.
Plus awareness of the many ravenous bugs, blights, birds and other critters that will frustrate flourishing. Just depends on your level of dedication and ability.

What do you want to grow?

Most people that own property grow many different types of fruit trees.
Herbs (easier done) and veggies can be done.
Not trying to discourage but takes dedication.


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speee1dy
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October 19, 2015 10:39 am  

when i first moved here i thought things could be grown year round here without much effort. just remember it is a bit hotter here and that will affect the growing.

dedication and constant attention


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OldTart
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October 19, 2015 11:31 am  

It's impossible to give the definitive answer as it's really a "trial and error" adventure. I can only speak for St Thomas but in over 30 years here I've learned that what you can successfully grow can vary enormously depending on which part of the island you live and a host of variable factors, many of which Alana mentioned.


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crazyinca
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October 19, 2015 1:26 pm  

I have been trying to grow a tomato plant in a bucket for a month now, nothing! From what I hear now you need to find seeds that come local. Good luck


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speee1dy
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October 19, 2015 1:39 pm  

crazy inca-not true on the local seeds. we , in the past, had luck with store bought seeds. but i personally found that they did not do well during july-september


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OldTart
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October 19, 2015 2:10 pm  

I have been trying to grow a tomato plant in a bucket for a month now, nothing! From what I hear now you need to find seeds that come local. Good luck

Cherry tomatoes are tropical, the easiest to grow and the most productive. Two years ago I bought some tomato seeds online and grew some incredible dark purple tomatoes in 5 gallon Home Depot buckets which tasted heavenly - but the crop was very small in comparison to the effort expended. All trial and error!


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Alana33
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October 19, 2015 3:15 pm  

I've grown them from seeds of tomatoes I've bought.
When they have survived the mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, etc. and are grown and beginning to ripen, the thrushy birds will swoop in to feast.

It's too hot to grow them in summer, I've found.
This year with the long drought we experienced was particularly difficult to grow stuff. Lost lots of plants.

As OT mentioned, lots of effort and dedication for small reward.
Don't know how farmers here manage.
These days I stick to growing herbs and buy tomatoes.


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shangirl
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October 19, 2015 3:48 pm  

It is my understanding that this great farm is on STX (islanders correct me if I'm wrong). Maybe they could help. http://www.ridge2reef.org/


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OldTart
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October 19, 2015 3:49 pm  

When they have survived the mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, etc. and are grown and beginning to ripen, the thrushy birds will swoop in to feast.

Gardening paraphernalia often includes chicken wire to keep the iguanas out, netting to keep the thrushies/trashies away, slug strips to ward off those suckers and regular spraying of water mixed with a little soap and oil to deter the smaller creepies. It's never dull, for true!


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Alana33
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October 19, 2015 5:13 pm  

Here's a good link for homemade sprays.

http://home.howstuffworks.com/green-living/homemade-organic-gardening-sprays.htm


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speee1dy
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October 19, 2015 5:26 pm  

ridgetoreef is on stx


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Exit Zero
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October 19, 2015 6:11 pm  

On Sat. at 11am on WTJX our USVI PBS station there is a local gardening series -- "Home Grown" with Carlos Robles from UVI and now AG Commissioner.
Excellent growing tips and gardening ideas all filmed here in the VI.

This is from an earlier post:

Mapp named Carlos Robles as his nominee for Agriculture commissioner and detailed his vision for the role of agriculture in the territory.

Robles has a bachelor's degree in agriculture science from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University and a master's degree in horticultural science from the University of Florida.

He has worked at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service since 1981. He is the state coordinator for sustainable agriculture and recently starred in a 16-part public television series on gardening for WTJX called "Home Grown."

Robles was the first certified arborist in the Virgin Islands, and regularly teaches the public about the care of plants and trees in the territory through workshops and seminars.

Mapp said he has some new ideas about how the agriculture industry works in the territory and believes Robles will help carry out his vision.

Mapp said he wants to create an Agriculture Revolving Fund under the Public Finance Authority, seeded with $1.5 million to start, that will help farmers get the equipment they need to participate in the territory's agriculture plan.


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Afriend
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October 19, 2015 6:18 pm  

Captain Malibu said: "It has been my assumption that due to the tropical climate, many vegetable crops can be grown year round."

This answers on this thread are a good indication as to why those contemplating a move to the Caribbean should not make any ASSUMPTIONS - and, no, I'm not trying to put down Captain Malibu, in fact he/she was wise to ask the question and seek advice.

When we first moved to the Caribbean we thought the same thing, that we'd have a cornucopia of fresh vegetables and produce all year long but soon found out gardening is much different and takes a lot more effort that it did where we used to live. Yes, it's warm all year round but the strong sun, constant heat, dry climate conditions, less that optimum soil conditions, voracious insects, lack of good irrigation, need for artificial shade, etc. all combine to make vegetable gardening a challenge.

We grow a few herbs, some leaf lettuce that we harvest when it's young and before the heat makes it bolt, bananas (they are easy and you get tons of them) and mangoes . We've given up trying to grow tomatoes, melons, squash and similar produce as it just wasn't worth the effort and we can easily buy what we need for reasons prices at the various markets around the island and leave all the sweating and toiling to others.


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CaptainMalibu
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October 19, 2015 7:39 pm  

Tons of great info, thanks! Sounds like a challenge. Since I'll not be dependent upon my own food production, I look forward to the challenge. It does sound like there will be an expense in a small garden that may or may not be successful. Most likely cheaper to just buy my veggies, etc at the market but where's the satisfaction in that?


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Cat
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October 20, 2015 10:11 am  

As part of our cross-country odyssey to get here, I picked up a small container of Heritage Big Jim Numex pepper seeds in Santa Fe and brought them over. We arrived in June, the hot season just getting underway.

As we're still building out the garden, I started the seeds and transplanted them into large containers (7+ gal. Yeah, overkill. But more on that.) Back in the States I had little room for in-ground gardening, so I became accustomed to growing practically everything in pots. I also started some herb seeds.

Right now I've got eight peppers beginning to produce and I've given away 4 other plants so we can see how they do in-ground and under other microclimate conditions. (To give an example, yesterday we got at best a smattering of rain. Not four minutes away from here they got a downpour). With the container plants here, the major factor is the potting soil used. Pro-Mix BX is by far the best, followed by Miracle-Gro standard potting. The Miracle-Gro organic is awful. Watering at the right times (morning, evening) is key. During the hottest parts of the day, a small pot will heat up and absolutely cook the roots, so a bigger pot turns out to be better in my experience so far if you don't shuttle the plant into shade for parts of the day (which I did for weeks until the plants got bigger and more robust).

I have a report that one of the plants put in ground has done very well and hasn't suffered wilting or other transpiration problems, even though it's in full sun.

My dill and parsley came up but are struggling a lot, I'm not sure why. I think I damped off the oregano. The chamomile never bothered to show. A rosemary and Thai basil I bought from G & G Farms and potted are ROARING along.

No bird/bug problems so far with the peppers, but Numexs are legendarily tough for that kind of thing.

That's my experience so far with container gardening. I can't wait until the yard garden is finished! Good luck!


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CaptainMalibu
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October 20, 2015 5:33 pm  

Thank Cat, some hopeful information. I'm looking forward to the challenge and seeing what I can produce.


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Bombi
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October 20, 2015 8:36 pm  

The best time to plant and grow is just about now. In the heat of the summer veggies don't do well. I have month old tomato, bell peppers and basil started. When it cools down a bit I start baby salad greens. You need to be super vigilant about picking off pests. You can use plant soap to wash off the pests and a at to combat the catapillers. Let your containers dry out between watering as root mold can happen quickly. I grow in containers called smart pots under beige shade cloth. Protect your plants from birds and tree rats with a hardware cloth enclosure. It probably doesn't cash out but I learn from the experience and enjoy eating what I grow. Start with some cherry tomatoes.. See how it goes, enjoy!

optimist with low expectations on STX


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stjohnjulie
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October 21, 2015 8:19 am  

I'm on St. John, and I started experimenting with growing a bunch of different things and here are some of the problems I've encountered. My first go around was more of a 'let's see what's going to happen' kind of thing. I planted in several different spots all over my yard. Mostly in containers, so I could move them if they were getting too little, too much sun.

I had great luck using an old tire which I filled with soil and pro mix and dug up the ground underneath it. I did zucchini and they did awesome until an iguana knocked down the chicken wire I had around it and ate every single leaf and bloom in a two hour window.

I've propagated bell peppers and they were doing pretty good until mealy bugs got at them. I can't keep the suckers off either. Have them planted in a pot on top of a roof. Iguanas and chickens don't get at them, but the mealy bug did.

Snow peas, in a pot, started off strong, but it just got too hot for them and they never produced.

Propagated lima beans in a pot did ok, but had them on the roof and it got a little too windy for them and lost a ton of their blooms. So harvest didn't yield much.

In a large rectangular container (which is a Dumpster dive creation) that is made out of the side wall attachment for the cargo area of a Gator tractor, put on the ground, and used PVC to bend around 'hoop' style and then attached chicken wire to it, I did arugula and radishes. Radishes were funky, didn't bulb out. The arugula did well.

I have bought seeds at Home Depot in St. Thomas in the past that just didn't do anything. I bought some in the states and they did better. Now I tend to just propagate from things I buy instead. That way I'm not out much if they don't work out.

Getting ready to do a more serious crop. So I'm happy to have this thread going!


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speee1dy
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October 21, 2015 10:28 am  

i have found that a lot of seed packets have expired-there is an expiration date on them and they dont do well after that.

baker creek heirloom seeds are a better choice. you can find them online


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OldTart
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October 21, 2015 10:53 am  

I had great luck using an old tire which I filled with soil and pro mix and dug up the ground underneath it.

Aren't tires just the best? I'm on a mountain and can't dig into all that rock so transplanted all my moringa saplings (and a few Angel's Trumpet cuttings) into soil-filled golf cart tires (thanks, spartygrad!) and then they rooted themselves firmly in the ground. Plan to use a bunch of them on a small hillside for herbs shortly and also plan to have a few cut in half to hang on the deck for flowers. Great fun! 😀


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stjohnjulie
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October 21, 2015 4:12 pm  

Yeah! They are really good. I cut off the top sidewall, leave the bottom one, and it helps hold water in the plant too. There are so many tires illegally dumped all over the place. Good way to make use of them. I got the idea to use them from a project in the VI I saw online.... at the UVI? maybe? Going to try the PVC hoop frame with chicken wire around them next time. I just wrapped chicken wire around the outside of the tire last time and the iguana eventually figured out they could smoosh them down and get the goods.
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