I just bought a wheelbarrow today and am planting guava, okra, in addition to the cacao and coffee I already got.
If that sounds weird, it is because I am in Dominican Republic.
The biggest challenge for me is finding information because most home gardening books are done for temperate climates and the DR is not exactly a great place for literature. If anybody has a good site, please do recommend!
I look up Hawaii and Florida often and get OK results. :)
The pro farmers in the neighborhood are helpful as well, but they don’t always have time and most of them have a plantain mono-crop. :)
If you can understand Spanish: https://foro.infojardin.com/ is probably one of the biggest communities of gardeners in the latinosphere. Just don't be shy and ask direct and well defined questions. Some people in America has problems with that, in my experience.
In English: https://tropicalfruitforum.com has good technical advice for American and Asian fruits
And there are some people that could help in https://news.ycombinator.com/ of course ;-)
You're missing out on coconut, jaboticaba, mango, dragonfruit, sweet potato, figs, rambutan, lychee, loquat, longan, avocado, jackfruit, and pineapple. Note that mango and avocado should be obtained as grafted plants because seeds usually create undesirable plants.
I'd love to be able to buy soft boiled eggs like I did at the vending machine in Japan. :)
Pickle it, and it’s a pretty great snack (popular here in Texas).
I've been gardening since my teen years (early 40's now) and moved many times. While I find gardening channels and recommendations useful and enjoyable, starting a garden (as I'm sure you are finding out), depends so much on local (this region) and even micro local (this valley, this yard, this side of the house) conditions. I've resigned the art of gardening to be one based almost entirely in fine scale structure in location. A pleasant artifact of plants having roots. While the themes and structures can be broadly applied, the art can only happen at a fine scale, where an in depth understanding of your local conditions as they relate to your goals and styles of gardening is something that can only be learned in situ.
while we miss out on stone fruit there's a whole world of exotic fruits that only do well in the tropics (except durian, that can rot in hell)
Very different creatures. Carica is tropical. Asimina is temperate and can live in areas with snow. Carica is superfast. Asimina starts as a very slow grower. Fruits taste totally different.
Pick something easy – when I started with zero knowledge I tried some of the harder plants like asparagus and celery and managed to get nothing, but I stuck with it after I realized I couldn't kill my Swiss chard or lettuce or collards if I tried. And don't start off trying to grow from seed. Get starts from a plant store - more expensive, but less likely to die off.
Many of those easier plants are also amenable to growing in a five gallon pot, which is perfect for when you don't have a ton of space to work with, or if you just want to dip your toe in.
This is great advice if you're just starting out. There's a bit of an art to starting from seed.
You need to understand the dynamics like light, temperature, moisture, and seasonal timing. Where I live, you can start tomatoes indoors around February to have great starts that'll go into a greenhouse in March, or into the soil outside in June. That's quite an undertaking to time and get right. This year I got the timing, lighting, temperature, and all the rest right - the plants look amazing - but I have eighteen extra plants taking up a lot of space that I guess I'll just leave on the sidewalk for a lucky gardener in my neighbourhood. I could have used that space in the nursery for so many other useful things, but I had no idea what would survive or if some would be too small or whatever.
Each plant demands its own special conditions, and it takes a lot of space if you start indoors. Unexpected harsh conditions can suddenly ruin outdoor plants. Forgetting to water one day could more or less stunt an entire bed of seedlings. They can be so delicate, and it can really suck the fun out of gardening.
There's no harm in starting out in easy-mode.
I find seeds so cheap to buy, that I just buy a bunch of different packets (for a season), put em in a bowl, then just throw them everywhere in my garden. Then just rely on luck to see what I get.
When working with new garden beds, it let's me quickly find what seems to like that area of the garden. (I think the Japanese have some similar technique)
I'm a really lazy gardener though, my yields could be better but I don't want to put any work in aha
It's awesome for growing lettuces and herbs, I find - I just thin them out as they peak out of the straw and let the biggest ones stay, while the smaller ones get eaten as I thin them or make it into a salad or something for dinner.
But you're absolutely right, not worrying too much and just letting your garden do its thing is great. You might not get maximum yields of tomatoes or watermelons or whatever, but it can work well and take a lot of the fussing out of the equation.
It really depends. Some plants grow stupidly easy from seeds. A good example is tomatoes. You don't even need to buy seeds. Just go to a store that sells high quality produce, buy the best tomatoes you find (and taste them to make sure they're good), cut them open and and take their seeds. Boom, now you have several plants that grow amazing tomatoes.
1. Mulch mulch mulch! It keeps weeds down and water in and will add organic matter to your soil as it breaks down. Your municipality probably makes tons of mulch from trimming trees and you can usually find somewhere to buy a truckload from them for a few dollars. We put down at least 3 pickup truck loads over the course of the first year in ~200 square feet of beds. Unless you are directly sowing seeds somewhere, you don't ever want bare soil showing.
2. If you have plants that seem diseased or have pests, rip them out or prune the affected parts off ASAP. We don't use pesticides or anything so the best way to keep pest populations down is to keep them from multiplying. Caterpillars become moths/butterflies that make many more caterpillars. If you eliminate the plant or leaves hosting them, they won't get that far.
3. The more you weed, the less you have to weed. This is the same idea as with pests. These things don't spontaneously generate, so every weed you pull up that doesn't go to seed first is one less seed in your soil waiting to pop up. If you keep on it, eventually the only weeds you have to worry about are ones that come over from your neighbor's overgrown beds!
Low maintenance, hard to kill and great caloric yield.
I guess you implied "at your home", but I do love the idea of guerilla gardening. Never done it with produce though, just flowers and trees.
Next I'm going to try some more traditional varieties that should be better for hobbyists.
I don't have a garden, only a balcony with a few boxes of dirt. Gardening manuals seem to tell me to replace all dirt every year (or 2-3 years at most) in order to renew soil quality and get rid of diseases. That seems... increadibly wasteful? Are there no alternatives? Why do real gardens and farms not need to replace all their soil so often?
The last question you asked is the key: gardens and farms don't need to replace their soil because they are "feeding" it with organic matter. The organic matter is animal manure, plant litter, or compost (which is... aged animal manure or plant litter). Bacteria and fungi eat that organic matter, larger organisms eat the bacteria and fungi, and plants operate in relation to all of them to uptake the nutrients they unlock from the previously living material. In natural systems, those dead plants feed the next generation in a relatively closed loop.
I've developed something of an obsession with all this recently as I learn through my own garden, and my goal this year is not to use any fertilizers (though I may if I think it's needed), no herbicides or fungicides, and only very little & very selectively applied organic pesticides.
Container gardening can be a bit of a special case, because it's difficult to have a complete ecosystem on a balcony, but integrating organic matter will replenish that too provided you have the soil organisms to do the work. Which is fairly likely.
On a balcony usually the containers are too small and too shallow to establish this kind of natural system. Also the environmental conditions are often varying too much. The containers might dry out at some time and be over watered at other times.
It is similar to keeping a very small aquarium healthy. The smaller it gets, the more delicate and instable it becomes. Thus to keep it simple, balcony and container gardeners are advised to exchange the pot soil on a regular basis.
Whan you can do to avoid wasting the "spent" soil, is simply to rejuvenate it. Mix it together with a large amount of fresh and healthy compost and other components to give it a boost. No need to throw it away.
If you want to make sure that pests do not survive and accumulate in this process, simply collect the spent container soil into a large compartment and heat it up to 90°C in the oven for an hour or so, sterilizing it in the process.
The other alternative would be to use hydroponics and specifically Kratky Hydroponics on the balcony and window shelf. I'm growing some beet root plants this way atm. Very easy and low maintenance.
A really simple way to see how good or bad your soil is starting out is to just dig up a couple of lumps of earth and see if you find earthworms. If you do, then you're off to a good start!
You can look up what plants you had in there before and what nutrients those usually consume the most of. Then you can look up another plant that specifically generates those nutrients, or you can add them via a fertilizer. Companion plants help get rid of pests that attack certain plants and also increase production of needed nutrients.
Before planting, you can aerate the soil (basically mix it up) while simultaneously adding organic material (grass clippings, dried leaves, sticks, fallen trees), then water it and tend it like the soil is a plant itself. You can also introduce beneficial organisms like earthworms and beneficial nematodes.
"Modern" farms don't replace their soil because they're basically growing monocultures and using a sort of "nutrient flamethrower" to completely drench the soil with what that one plant needs, and pesticides to kill anything that a genetically modified plant can't survive. It's unsustainable and harmful to the ecosystem in many cases, but it results in big yields.
1) Figure out what you want to grow
2) Look up what kind of soil pH and what nutrients those plants need
3) Test your soil for pH and those nutrients, where possible
4) Amend the soil with fertilizer to correct measured imbalances
A lot of it is trial and error, also. Take note of what you do and the outcomes and keep doing what works. There are so many local variables generalized advice can never hope to cover them all.
If possible you should renew your soil, not be replacing it, but by mixing it with good manure or even just a bunch of leaves. I have experience with manure from rabbits and horses - both can be directly mixed with the earth.
The plants will tell you. But the answer always, always is: how good is your compost?
Until you get composting right, gardening can be very frustrating. But it all starts with a proper compost. You can fix almost any soil issue with composting techniques.
The curious thing about that, though, is that your compost, if its a house compost (based on output from your household) is only going to be as healthy as you, yourself eat. So that is a factor as well ..
Btw if your plants look healthy, no action is required.
Their vegetable tips were nice and detailed, but their design stuff was all basic landscaping design stuff, i must admit, I was hoping to see maybe something about vegetable garden design.
As long as you don't resell it, you will fly under the radar most probably
Cherry tomatoes, however, are easy, produce plentifully, and are great for kids or sprucing up a salad. Sungold are a great variety.
Full tomatoes are of course fantastic and have a great payoff. I love the high acid ones like Green Zebra. I know people honestly like making their own sauce, but, it’s a PITA and Rao’s can be bought, so I don’t recommend paste varieties.
No idea what the problem is, maybe it's fungal. Quite a few leaves were turning yellow/black lower down.
There is no greater feeling than to have fed ones family direct from the house garden, or to have raised ones children to understand and appreciate the rewards of cultivation of renewable resources, plants, in their own lives.
Every single human being should have a plant that they take care of, regularly, and participate in its life. No matter if its an avocado pit growing in the window, or a field of leafy greens, the care of plant life is a very rewarding activity.
We eat from our garden daily for 9 months of the year, and this year had the pleasure of seeing our last season's crop of mangold survive winter, rejuvenate, and provide us with ample harvest.
Gardening is a lot like programming, though. If you don't take care of the base layers, you may find yourself with a broken framework and need to refactor.
Just like programmers should know their compiler - gardeners should know their compost. The better the compost, the better the garden ..
I used to rent a house that had a tiny crop plot and let it get weedy. My neighbor didn't like me for it, but my wife and I loved watching the birds and rabbits run around our yard. We even got a field mouse. I thought the reason it got out of control was because I hated gardening, but it's that I hate taking care of things I didn't pick. It's great seeing (some of) the flowers I planted really flourish.
Cultivate as diverse an ecosystem as you possibly can. Good indicator species include amphibians (esp. frogs), spiders and fungi -- if you're seeing lots of those in your veggie garden, your soil ecology and fixed-plant guilds are healthy.
I had a neighbour complain that they'd had a particularly bad invasion of bugs one season, despite a couple of prior seasons with no trouble. "Third season growing in that spot?" I asked. She answered affirmatively. "Hang in there," was the only advice I could give. It seems that a new veggie garden gets about 2 seasons "for free", then, in the 3rd season, all the bugs find it, but the predators haven't caught up yet. It's highly instructive to run a predator-prey model -- you'll easily see the natural delay between prey population peaks and the lagging predator population peaks. So 3rd season is a downer, but take heart! from there on things steadily get better.
The BIG thing to avoid (assuming you're aiming for completely pesticide-free) is to NEVER use pesticides of ANY kind, "organic" pesticides included! The moment you deploy a pesticide, even on a limited scale, you break the predator-prey networks you need to build and foster. Once you have your local ecosystem really healthy (compost, compost, compost!) you'll hardly ever have serious pest problems. I speak from having gardened this way for over 25 years.
With fungi - if you mean blight - I've been lucky enough not to have to deal with it. Try to keep plants healthy and leaves relatively dry. If you mean powdery mildew, I think it's a part of life to a certain degree and the best you can do is manage it. Try to keep leaves dry when watering, promote airflow around plants, and cut off old leaves that have a lot of mildew. They should still produce. If you mean fungus in the ground around plants, that's usually a good sign not a bad one.
With cabbage moths, the most effective protection is some type of fine netting/horticulture fleece over the plants to keep the moths from laying eggs, or applying BT (bacillus thuringiensis) periodically. It's a natural pesticide (a bacteria) that's extremely effective against caterpillars. I use it, and it's great, though I'm hoping to use less this year because it likely affects other insects in their larval stages as well (thinking ladybugs and lacewings).
With spider mites... sigh. The problem has seemed to get worse each year. This year I'm trying a more holistic and hands-off approach using compost exclusively (0 or very limited fertilizer use, even organic) to make sure plants are healthy enough to fight them off and produce despite their presence. Also covering soil with dense plantings and other smaller inter-crops to regulate soil temps, hold onto moisture, and encourage soil life. I'm also allowing a baseline population of them in some places (not that I've had a choice) to give predators a food supply so they'll move in and hopefully help keep things under control. The thinking here is a "soil-up" approach that focuses on soil, plant, and ecosystem health rather than simply attacking what may be a symptom of other problems I've created.
Hope this is helpful!
Part is cultivating carnivorous insects. Keep cats away from your garden, they hunt and kill the carnivorous insects.
Part is chemical deterrence. Dilute soapy water interferes with the life cycle of many pests. Garlic discourages lots of things.
Part is companion planting. I have not had much luck with this myself, but better gardeners than me (most) swear by the technique.
Be a bit vigilant. If a plant is being attacked, rip it out. Spray soapy water and/or garlic on your plants on a regular basis.
Accept some defeats. You will not win every battle with the little evil creatures. But if you engage with them you will stay ahead enough to have a fabulous garden.
I've done it on and off for the last several years.
During COVID I grew 100kg/220lbs of tomatoes.
> Chinese cabbage
In my part of the world, Bok Choi is just one type of chinese cabbage. Others are choi sum, napa cabbage, etc.
One thing I think is helping this year is liquid kelp fertilizer.
Would love to hear recommendations for general gardening books too.