Dominican Republic - Growing vegetables in the tropics

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Mr Natural, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Mr Natural

    Mr Natural Member

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    Location:
    Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic
    Hola and Greetings from Dominican Republic.

    Organic farming in DR is not for the faint of heart. It takes special seeds heat and if possible disease tolerant varieties. I would love to hear from anyone with tropical experience growing tomatoes, peppers, greens, especially lettuce leaf varieties , romaine etc and cucumbers.

    I am origianlly from Burnaby my home for over 30 years. I moved to DR 1 year ago to set up the Dominican Republic Research Institute Demonstration and Educational Center.

    WE ACCEPT WOOFERS AND OTHERS interested in cheap travel to volunteer on the farm in exchange for 4 hours a day we provide clean housing and meals. We have a beautiful patio on the river for swimming and fishing.

    WWW.drpermacultureinstitute.com under construction.

    email. mrecosustainable@gmail.com

    cheers Pablo
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    3 years of tropical experience here, in varying climate types. I currently maintain two gardens: one at 10,000 feet of elevation, and another on the edge of the Amazon basin. I'm originally from Edmonton, Alberta - so I can sympathize with the learning curve!

    The key to lettuce in the tropics is SHADE. In the Amazon, I can grow almost any type as long as I plant it under the bananas, although Batavias don't do so well in the high humidity. In the Sierra, again in shade for most of the day and only dappled morning sun, I can grow all of the varieties I've tried. Red lettuces seem to do better than green ones, and Romaine takes longer to head up but still does wonderfully.

    Shade, especially in the noon-afternoon sun period, is also the key for most of the cool-climate Curcubits - however, if you can buy fruits in the market and plant seed from those, you'll get the adapted varieties 9 times out of 10. I trellis everything to take advantage of breezes.

    I do a lot (read almost everything) of companion planting to boost disease resistance, and I've found that of all things Stinging Nettles are the best helpers for tomato crops. In the altitude garden I'm at least free of fusarium issues, but in the Amazon, the nettles allow me to plant where even resistant plants would wilt out. I have yet to find a maximum heat for tomatoes, and as long as you provide shade cloth or afternoon shade, you won't have any problems with blossom-drop due to heat.
     
  3. Thean

    Thean Active Member 10 Years

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    Good Morning Pablo and Lorax,
    I took the other direction - from the Equatorial belt to the 'freezer'. The University of Virgin Island has a very successful aquaponic system that may be worth looking into. Although the system is more or less geared towards tilapia and lettuce growing, the system can be adapted to many vegetables. When I was in Malaysia, I had problems growing tomatoes on the lowland (50' above sea level) because of Fusarium and Dacus fruit flies. The wilt problem was easily solved by grafting tomato onto eggplant but the fruit flies could only be controlled with bagging - labor intensive but as a backyard gardener it was not a consequence to me. BTW if I could time the melon (Cucumis melo) to ripen during the dry season, they were the sweetest and tastiest I have ever eaten. Try perennial vegetables like Goa Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) or katoh (Sauropus endrogynus - not sure of the correct spelling), they are very nutritious, and pest and disease free.
    Peace
    Thean
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Equally, Taro (Colocasia esculenta), Yuca (Manihot esculenta), and Pelma (Xanthosoma saggitatum) are all nutritious and tasty tropical starch crops that have very few issues. I'd suggest looking into Arrowroot (true arrowroot, lol Thean) - Maranta arundinacea.

    I've found that with watermelons (the best bet in Latin American heat), the very best ones are started at the beginning of the rainy season and harvested at the beginning of the dry, while with Canteloupes and Honeydews they're best planted about halfway into the wet season and ripened/harvested in the middle of the dry as Thean notes - they're unlike anything you ever ate in Canada.

    You'll also want to look at the perennial production tropical fruit trees - Mango, Ice Cream Bean (Guabo), Guava, Carambola, and the list goes on. If you're trying to grow temperate crops, the shade that these trees produce will be necessary.

    And as a final note, if you want apples, buy imports. Trying to grow your own in DR is simply an excercise in frustration - even the tropical-adapted cultivars don't get the chill hours necessary to allow proper blooming/fruiting cycles.
     
  5. Mr Natural

    Mr Natural Member

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    Hola Lorax and Thean

    Yuca Taro and other indigenous crops, fruits carambola, chinola and others are are easy. We grow those for sustenance. Greens and other crops I mentioned are very different issue. We are growing organically for market.

    Hybrid and other corrupted seeds already used in DR are easier but we dont use such things. We use open pollinated, heirlooom and organic only.

    Beans grow like weeds here so thats good. Will try suggestions on planting in shade of bananas and other trees am already setting up shade cloth seems to be solution for everything here.

    But I am interested in specific seed names that have proven suitable for hot climate.

    At present we have 15 varieties of bamboo, 50 varities of fruit.

    Stay in touch as we will have many fotos and video on web site soon.

    best wishes

    Pablo
     
  6. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Specific tomatoes adapted for heat include 'Pomodoro Guantia' (determinate paste type) and 'Fresa' (indeterminate grape type) - and I'll ask my friend Marco about the tropical beefsteaks, since I grow only North American heirlooms for those.
     

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