I was told everything grows on the islands. Would that be a true statement?
Right now I plant tons of herbs such as rosemary,basil, etc
I always have tomato's,yellow and green squash,peppers,strawberries,blueberries,sweet peas,beans,sweet and yellow potatoes , and one cherry tree
Would I be able to plant and harvest all those fruits and vegetable. I know the islands have their own fruit and vegetable but sometimes you just crave the classics. I don't think I saw many apples on Island. Would an apple tree even make it in the tropics.
Hello there. As an avid gardener, I learned something very important last year. Yes, things will grow and bear all year long (such as vegetables that don't have a seasonal bearing kind of thing like many of the fruits), however, the plants will need some protection from the wind and sun, and in the 'winter wind' period after December, we do not get a great deal of water. As such, you would need to plan on a regular watering schedule.
This year I will be using raised beds so that I have more control over the amount of water needed, and the various snails and such, and will be watering heavily, but less frequently to foster deep root growth rather than a lot of surface rooting. I still have some beds that produce 14 months after planting, like sweet potatoes, basil, etc. Others run their cycle, like tomatoes, and when it looks like they are coming to an end, I plant new seedlings so there is a constant turn over.
I hope this is of some help, and again, the toughest period is in the mid to late winter. If you can manage that, I imagine you will have plants and food for the entire year,
Thanks, did you ever try your luck on strawberries? I don't have too much luck here as we seem to get too much rain. I also wonder how an fruit tree would do. Have you ever seen an apple tree on island. I would think they need the 4 season. But i gather someone might have come up with a tree which does well in tropical areas.
I am exited to know that so much does grow. We picked our property with gardening in mind.
I've done a lot of planting in all my years here and there certainly are challenges as Dan pointed out. One of the major problems (apart from the weather) is bugs. Every few years a "new" bug will come in from down-island and decimate tomatoes, peppers, etc. and some of them are seemingly impervious to any organic or chemical treatment - very frustrating!
Having played around with all sorts of imported plants and seeds, I've had the very best success growing "local" produce from local seeds and cuttings. I remember a friend had some success with strawberries but, as with tomatoes and other soft fruits they need protection from the sun and the trashy birds. A good product I used to buy was the sunshade screening material which I got from a stateside mail-order company.
I've never seen an apple tree or a cherry tree here and doubt you'd have success with them. Go instead with local fruits - mango, papaya, lemons and limes, etc. Pineapples also do well but are very slow growers.
Oh and another good product is the water-retaining granules which you dig into the soil at the base of the plant. During rainy season they absorb the water and then as the ground dries up release it back out. Certainly great for water preservation during very dry spells.
Hope this helps a little and good luck!
Off course I will go first with all the tropical. But I know I will miss my apple pie 🙂 I thought perhaps thers is an apple which does better in the tropics. Have you ever planted a "monstata" It has the shape of a banana but is thicker. It has scales kind of skin. It is a funny fruit you eat as you go. The scales will fall of and that is how you know it is ready to eat. It taste like a pina colada. It is the last fruit on the page link below.
Thanks for reminding me about the bugs! I forgot that even as I type, in is the 'month of the locust' or grasshopper or something, and they are having a feast on the buffet I planted for them!
Last year was completely organic, I think this year I will pull out the chemicals,
You can still make your own apple pie by buying imported apples!
You can experiment as I did but I honestly wouldn't waste time, energy and money trying to grow something that wasn't "bahn-here!" I've found the same even applies to shrubs, etc. purchased from off-island gardening supply companies which, although on paper are acclimated to our planting/weather Zone, have an amazing propensity to simple fizzle and expire. I wasted a LOT of money going that route.
IAnd, even closer to home, I bought a beautifully flourishing (imported) gardenia from a local plant outlet a couple of years ago and it lasted for maybe 4-5 months until it expired. Then my neighbour cut way back a huge gardenia bush he had and I took nine stem cuttings, dipped them in root powder and stuck them in pots. Within a couple of weeks they were sprouting. To cut a long story short, within a year I now have two 6' tall luxurious bushes bursting with wonderfully perfumed flowers and friends benefited from the rest.
PS: Those hoppers can wreak havoc but a regular dose of malathion keeps them away and that ghastly compound also works well when bougainvillea gets hit by the white flies...
Thanks when the time comes I might come back to pick your brain if that is alright. I will see what is on our lot naturally and start there.
Any opinions or advice from the local STX gardeners on this? Pros or cons?
We are thinking of starting a bougainvillea hedge around our newly acquired hillside property near Cottages by the Sea, West End, almost a half acre on "stony ground" with lots of mature island plantings. Since we will be renting to long-term tenants for some years before living there, we need low maintenance, drought resistance, take-care-of-yourself plants ... that are still lovely. We thought of planting the bougainvillea or ? ourselves in February, but are getting hints that maybe we should get the bougainvillea started now before the rainy season.
Any thoughts? Please PM me if you think this is too specific for the message board.
Thanks! -- Joanna
You might find that the water needs of a vegetable garden strain your cistern. Vegetable gardening requires a relatively large amount of water and if your cistern can't support your household and garden needs you will find that water is expensive to purchase. One of my neighbors put in an adundance of new landscaping and he has required two water deliveries a week for the last year! This example is extreme, because he planted lots of non-native plants and can afford to buy water to indulge his preferences, but you might want to reconsider spending water on vegetable gardening until you've experienced your cistern's capabilities over several seasons.
You have a good point. We would most likely plan on a larger cistern to comensate for our gardening or have a second cistern just for that purpose. We will be renting at first and our vegetable gardening would only start when our house is finished. We will only plant local fruits and vegetable till then.
Joanna - bougainvillea is really easy and. in fact, throws out its "blooms" when the ground is dry. You can start your own easily from stem cuttings or buy small plants in pots, just toss them in the ground about three feet apart and they'll be fine. Keep then well trimmed back so they "bush out" and, if they should get a white fly infestation once in a while just spray them once a day with Malathion for about a week.
As far as vegetable watering is concerned, it's better, as Dan mentioned, to form out raised beds. I actually use the empty containers which boat dinghies come in - drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage, mix up commercial potting soil with some good compost or seasoned manure and vermiculite and you're all set to go. All my veggies are most tolerant of dishwater and if you can divert your shower water, etc. into a greywater container you can attach a spigot and a hose to that so you don't waste your cistern water. Cheers.
Iris, Dontie makes a great point. The grey water is a valuable resource. Please think about plumbing your new house so that grey water is not wasted, but sent gardenwards.
Dear STT/Iris, etc.
Just as an FYI: Gallows Bay Hardware sells 'bails' of supercompacted potting soil, I believe 3.8 cubic yards for thirty five dollars, which is less than half of what it would cost to buy the large bags elsewhere. This amount will (just for a visual) fill 100 gallon pots with soil, and it 'foofs' a bit when the water is added back in. Probably the best deal going for raised garden beds.
I am making notes for future use of all the tips I am getting here. I have read up a bid on grey water use. One source said it was not worth the trouble cost wise that just having a larger cistern would solve the problem. I am sure I will do more research and talk to people who have installed a grey water system. I know if money was an issue I would put it to solar power rather than to grey water. Hopefully I will not have to choose.
Most State side fruit trees apples , cherries (stone fruit) need a certain number of chill hours. This is around 40 F.to set fruit properly.We don't have many chill hours in the VI. Enjoy the tropical fruits that do well here.Stop at a road side fruit stand,talk to locals go to a nursery.You can find a tree that will provide plenty of tasty fruit.Enjoy the tropical bounty.
Iris - a very basic greywater system is so simple that even a DYITYourselfer with basic plumbig knowledge can do it. We're not talking here about doing a major diversion on either an existing house or even anything major on a house-in-planning.
Let's see if I can talk this through without getting complicated. Your sink water drain is connected to your dishwasher drain (if you have a DW.) Your sink drains (D/W drains if you have one) through a pipe which goes from underneath your sink via PVC pipe to the outside and then either into your drywell or your septic tank.
t's very simple to redo the fittings on your sink/DW drainage to divert THAT water directly into an outside container to which you then connect a spigot and a hose to water your plants via gravity feed. And of course you would install shut-off valves so that if your greywater container went to overfill you'd just shut off.
Your shower water drainoff is likely tied in to your flushed toilet water which goes into the septic tank where it festers and bubbles before being leeched out. Obviously you don't want your toilet water and that nastiness going into your greywater containment system but again the whole system of piping and shut-offs prevails except of course that the shut-off/diversion valve is situated on the drainage pipe BEYOND the toilet run-off so the twain never meet.
Most of your plumbing is unfortunately going to be behind walls but you can accomplish all this by simple diversion from inside source to outside piping and it really isn't any big deal. Cheers.
I will make a note and when the day comes give it a shoot. It does sound duable. Now would the soap used in a dishwasher not be too strong for gardening use?
I guess I will experience around with new recipes for tropical fruits lol.
I have a 10,000 gal gray water system on my house and it works fine.I use laundry, shower and bath sink water. One thing to remember is most soap is OK on plants except boron products.Look on the label of laundry soap,If it shows any borates in the label don't use it.Many laundry products use phosphates to clean. Also go easy on bleaches some is OK,or store the water for a few days and the bleach will breakdown.
citrus fruits do very well - we had oranges, grapefruit and lemon. Temeperate zone fruits - apples etc. will probably just be a sourc eof disappointment.
Watch out for the little pink insects that cause leafcurl and produce mildew and icky stuff that attracts the ants - come on someone help me out with the name -
This an AWESOME thread, and I too am learning a lot about tropical gardening!!!!
That said, I still sorely miss my roses, lavender, daylilies and hostas 🙁 ..................................................
Maybe a greenhouse?
Has anyone done that ?
we left the VI to move to Port Townsend in Washington State - I could take pics of my new lavender, roses etc.
In fact we just had the Sequim Lavender Festival - lots of purple.
those pink bugs might be pink mealy bugs.They were a problem a few years ago.The seem to like hibiscus plants.If they get bad cut off branches and place in plastic bags.Keep away from your other plants.They like plants that are stressed from lack of water.
Although I do gray water the old fashioned way (carrying it out in small pails!), I go through the trouble for a double purpose. Not only does it help not to waste water, but many problems that plants may have (i.e. the plantain has a bug that will eat the core, but underground) may be headed off with a good soaking with water and biodegradable, again non-borax type soaps. I am not evolved enough in gardening to know why, but it does work.
I have also noticed that plants that are reluctant to bloom, like a stubborn hibiscus, can be brought to bloom with this water.
Okay. Time to go and haul some water,