Planting in St. Lucia

Discussion in 'Outdoor Tropicals' started by englak, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. englak

    englak Active Member 10 Years

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    I'd like to learn more about the plants that grow in St. Lucia. Does anyone have a good resource? I'm thinking that a contact at a St. Lucia nursery, or gardening book for the island would be helpful.
     
  2. SWhite3726

    SWhite3726 Member

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    How to grow anything in St. Lucia

    Hi everyone, I have just moved to St. Lucia from the UK and want to start growing my own produce. I am not a complete novice but I can't seem to find any info on growing any type of veg/fruit etc here at all. Obviously the climate will help me greatly, but any generalised info would be appreciated. I wish to be fairly self sufficient so crops like carrots, potato, onions etc but also the more unusual type of veg like christofene, etc. Fruit would be wonderful to try as in the UK that wasn't much of an option! Would like to grow grapefruit, limes, would love to try apples etc but need to know how the climate could affect this in any adverse way etc. Any help appreciated, thanks a lot all,
     
  3. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Alright - first things first. Let's state the obvious: you're on a tropical island, so you have two seasons instead of four. Accordingly, some things must be planted in season and others are not restricted. It would help to know what you're trying to grow, and how much space you have to grow it in.

    Guidelines: things that are not season-dependant include Lettuces and other leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, squash, and most of the rest of the traditional UK kitchen-garden veg crops that grow above-ground. Same goes for herbs. Tomatoes in particular will probably want shade cloth over them to preven the leaves from burning. Strawberries are also possible, as are passionfruits.

    Things that should be planted at the end of the wet season include Corn and other grains, and root crops (ie carrots, beets, neeps.) Trying to grow these in the wet season just means they rot in the ground, and the corn won't even sprout in wet season here in Ecuador. I'd assume it's the same in other tropical places.

    Now is the point to think about your tropical location: you can grow bananas, papayas, mango, pineapple, and a whole horde of other tropical fruits. These are generally longer-cycle crops, and it's best to plant them just after hurricane season ends. You can also grow your own coffee. Fruits like Guava will give two harvests a year - one in the dry and another in the wet.

    You may need to fertilize; I can't recall what the Caribbean soils are like, but I seem to recall they're a bit poor in nutrients. Compost will help.

    If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask! I was from Northern Canada before moving to Ecuador, and had to learn how to garden all over again.
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Re: How to grow anything in St. Lucia

    I answered your other post, but you left more info here so I'll have another stab at it.

    You typical UK garden veg (except root crops) can be planted year-round. Tomatoes will want shade cloth to keep the leaves from burning. Lettuces and other leafy veg should be planted in 2-week staggered patterns because they tend to bolt a bit faster in the heat. Squashes (like Christofene) are also very possible, but may need shade cloth as well depending on their country of origin. Check your local nurseries, as in all likelyhood they will have tropical-adapted seeds for all of the above.

    Root crops (potatoes, carrots, beetroot, neeps) and onions need to be planted at the very end of the wet season (ask a local about how your seasons are timed, because I'm sure they'll be different from mine. I'm at the Equator.) So does corn and other grains.

    Fruit can be grown year-round. You're a bit too hot for most apples and stone fruits like peaches (they need a dormant period that your climate doesn't give them), but you can absolutely do citrus of all types, bananas, pineapple, mango, papaya, soursop, custard apples, and a number of fruits that will probably be quite new to you (check out Naranjilla, Tamarillo, Acerola, and anything else in the local markets that you don't recognize.) You'll also be able to grow palm fruits; for this I'd reccomend dates and Morete, and if you can find a local variety of coconut or similar, it's always a refreshing thing to have.

    If you want to have producing citrus in less than 5 years, you should investigate your local nurseries and buy small trees from them. Ditto for mango. Papaya can be grown from seeds and will start blooming in about 1 year. Bananas should be purchased as pups and allowed to situate. You can probably grow your own coffee. And you can definitely grow your own avocadoes (but only if you can find them in the nursery. They don't generally come true from seeds.)

    For more ideas, you can check out my garden blog and click on the "food" tag.
     
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    (merged threads, hence the semi-duplicate answer from Lorax)
     
  6. SWhite3726

    SWhite3726 Member

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    Thank you very much for all that useful info. Will make a start with the tomatoes and lettuces first as they should be fairly fail safe, and have purchased a christofene so will start that off from the seed inside etc. Am having trouble finding any type of nursery/garden centre, none around that I can see so that might make finding small established fruit trees etc a bit tricky! Am not going to give up though will chat to the locals and see if they know anywhere to source these things. Appreciate the tip on the apple trees thats the first thing I would have tried, that will save a lot of time wasting! Next stage is to discover all the bugs etc that will envitably find my new veggie source!
     
  7. jaught

    jaught Member

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    I am so glad to have found your post, I am anticipating a move to St. Lucia from the US (Savannah, GA) in the spring and have always grown part of my kitchen vegetables. I also want to grow as much of my own produce there as possible, for cost savings as well as for the joy of gardening. I will be interested to follow your progress as I plan my move.
     
  8. SWhite3726

    SWhite3726 Member

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    Will do my best to keep everyone posted, but only have a small bit of garden so far, the rest is still a building site! Gradually getting more and more as we get on with building our apartments but still having to keep small scale for now. Trial an error is definitely going to be the key here! The tomatoes are thriving as you would expect, but sunburn is the main problem. Coming from the UK thats not something I've encountered before!! Have purchased some netting so that should be sorted now. The other problem I have is that our property is cut into the side of a small mountain and is very high, so have high winds mostly constantly and of course being close to the sea, that blows in the salt as well, all new experiences. The lettuces bizarrely enough were a complete failure, usually idiot proof but hey what does that say! They didnt work, some got sunburnt which as I have said I've sorted now, but the others the ants ate, we didnt get ants like this in the UK, they ate every bit and my mint plants. Sourcing plants is a mega problem here there is nowhere to buy anything like that so I bought some fresh mint from the local market and rooted it myself only for the ants to feast on! Pots obviously the key there and near the house so I can try and keep it ant free. The pineapples are roaring away, grown from top cutting and the bananas are getting there, slow but sure. Herbs are impossible to source apart from the regular common ones. Have found a guy who grows his own stuff so am going to try to get further hints and tips from him. Planted garlic bulbs around my tomatoes to try and keep some bugs away, so fingers crossed. @Have sprouted some ginger here very successfully to, so not all is lots!
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I can give you a couple of remedies for tropical ants, if you wish. I fight leafcutters, army ants, and a giant black ant called a conga, which is somehow worse than the garden-variety ones.

    If you want to keep them out of your house, I'd say use a 1" line of Cayenne pepper soaked in Tea-Tree oil. You'll have to renew this weekly, especially if it's windy. Pots on stilts in cans of water or oil will be the key for your tenders, like herbs and lettuces. Try building windbreaks out of the same cloth you're using to shade your tomatoes; this may reduce the salt and wind damage.

    And if you have saline soils, you can plant coconut palms....
     
  10. SWhite3726

    SWhite3726 Member

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    Needs some further help please with Palms. I have a very windy spot in my garden that gets the full force of the wind off the sea, the tradewinds arent always gentle! I would like to plant a few palms to give a bit of shelter but want short bushy ones, nothing quite like coconut palms. If preferable ones I can keep to a certain height, but bushy definitely needed for protection for the more delicate plants. Palms are new to me as they didnt thrive so well in the UK so any help greatly appreciated. Many thanks all.
     
  11. SWhite3726

    SWhite3726 Member

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    Also does anyone know if I can grow a Ylang Ylang tree here?
     
  12. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    You sure can! About the only things you can't grow successfully in a tropical climate are Bing Cherries (or similar), Nectarines, Peaches or other stone fruits, and Wine Grapes.
     
  13. Elifius

    Elifius New Member

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    this is an old post indeed... just want to add that apples can grow in St.Lucia (tropical climates) i have a few trees growing from seed and 6 grafted trees i ordered. i have a peach tree grown from seed it will be 3 years this year December 2018. this year it had one fruit that hang on to maturity did not get to eat it as it fell during a storm and the slugs got to it first i did get a taste of it though was not about to let the first fruit grow without a taste, it was sweet cant wait for next years fruit with i expect to be more plentiful .... there is much information on growing apples in the tropics on growing apples in the tropics...SWhite3726 hope you have settled into island life nicely and hope your garden is doing great
     

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