(just after transplanting the cilantro, basil – and one sage plant into their glass jars)
Well I had been reading up, hunting down methods for growing in the tropics with our violent wind, heavy rain, harsh sun and humidity and coming up with a plan to start small, gain confidence and branch out accordingly. This plan was still in effect when we moved into our rental in Dominica. We have a huge outdoor space safe from larger ground critters, with metered sunlight, as well as areas will full sun all day and speckled light / reflected light all day. We purchased some potting soil from a local agriculture store and got to work with the sprouting pods and containers we had on hand. Of course we had our seeds that got a quick start then died after sprouting, but instead of going back and trying again on some of those, we nurtured what was working. Still growing from our first rounds of sprouting & transplanting are a container of basil, container of cilantro, 1 sage, 4 tomato plants (although we are unsure of which variety/varieties survived!), 1 red leaf lettuce, 4 pak choi and our humungous green zucchini & yellow squash plants! (update the red leaf lettuce was eaten by Pierre – our black cat)
The zucchini / squash were transplanted into the baby tub we picked up and used as a cat litter box when we first arrived. Of course we cleaned it out filled it with soil and even without the addition of any fertilizer (yet) we are proud with the natural growth we’ve seen and the blossoms and squash are just starting to bud which is very exciting! The huge leaves are also providing shade for some more tender greens which I will transplant once they are big enough. It’s really looking healthy and beautiful although I did have two scares. The first being some splitting near where the plant meets the soil, I quickly learned this could be remedied and it was probably from the wind stressing it.
The other stand outs are the basil and cilantro which are very hard to find here and when they are available the basil isn’t quite the basil we are accustomed to in the states. The seeds I planted most definitely have familiar plush, deep green leaves and emit an aroma that makes me salivate! The cilantro is growing and seems to be doing well despite Pierre’s attempts to eat it up. I try to keep it cool since I would hate for it to bolt on me before I can enjoy it! I tried to remove the single sage since it’s watering requirements differ from the basil, but its roots were set and didn’t want to budge, so I left it, hoping she keeps thriving since sage is definitely something I’ve never seen in stores here.
We just hardened off the tomatoes and they are loving the full sun, the wind and rain, even though one of their first days outside they almost flooded in the heavier than average rains. Luckily they are growing in a bag we can move so they can be brought under an awning for protection. I also tried a technique I had learned about online for planting tomato slices to see if that would work, and I now have several more tomato sprouts! Once they grow a little bigger I will transplant each of these to a proper container that will be the right size through their growth and not just as sprouts and small plants.
To the left are the sprouts a few weeks ago, and after they were transplanted into the bag.
Below are what they look like now, they still have a long way to go & really need that fertilizer!
(zucchini blossoms forming)
We have a barrel arriving in a week and a half and I couldn’t be more excited since it has a lot of gardening tools inside. It has some compost tea (since we have started composting but obviously don’t have any usable compost yet), organic fertilizer, acidity & moisture meters, as well as soft bag style containers of various sizes so I can thin out my zucchini, pak choi, and other veggies and fruits as I start germinating more seeds. The barrel will also contain some hydration picks which should help me do some deep root nutrient injections and hydration!
(canopy of HUGE zucchini / summer squash leaves)
In the meantime I sowed a few varieties of greens into a small container which have just started to sprout, and I hope I can protect them from my cats because having fresh greens of my own is high on my list of important crops to grow. Not to mention I was definitely saddened by Pierre’s meal of red leaf lettuce! And while I wait for these greens to show themselves, I will continue to tend to the plants we’ve got, and contemplate the next to germinate and sprout in anticipation of the arrival of so many different containers!
Do you garden ? Farm ? Have a homestead, allotment, keep an herb garden or grow anything you eat? I would love to hear your stories of successes and blunders as well as any tips especially anyone farming in humid, hot, rainy & windy conditions without a greenhouse! Feel free to reply in the comments.