rsolis251
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new to this, few questions..

So im completely new to this, but ive decided to start a veggie/herb garden. I live in Trinidad in the caribbean so the climate is hot. Also, its the rainy season so theres moderate - heavy rains daily.

Anyways i have a section in my yard that ive been preparing for the garden. (see photos). Its mostly covered in concrete, but theres significant sections without any concrete ( like in the corner) I figure i will plant in containers on the parts with concrete, and also plant some into the earth itself where there's none. So ive spent the last few days clearing weeds/ ant nests from the areas, so now i have to prepare the actual soil for planting. Im thinking i'll plant only vegetables on the areas that have no concrete. And then container garden some herbs and some other veggies on the concrete.
Heres where my lack of experience comes in haha. The earth that is left after taking out the weeds is muddy and full of rocks, obviously its not suitable for any planting. However, i have a huge pile of sandy gravel, and a good bit of compost (in the wooden chest shown in the pics). theres a good bit of compost but not enough to really cover it all i think. Anyways thats where im at so far, so questions..

Should i dig out some of the muddy rocky soil, lay down some of the sandy gravel (for drainage), get some good soil to put over that, then layer it with compost? then plant on that? Also do i do the same process in the containers (as in - gravel-soil-compost)?

Will i need any pesticide/herbicide? (Im only using organic)

The rain here is pretty intense pretty often. im talkin..torrential downpours on a regular. Is that a hazard to newly growing plants? Oh also, behind the green wall in the pic is a river, so water can drain easily i think. And the rains havent ever been hard enough to over flow the river so i don't think thats a threat.

Those are my main concerns. But for consideration, what is some of your favourite veggies/herbs to plant and why? (keep in mind the tropical climate - hot year round, dry for 1/3 rainy for 2/3s )

Hope to hear from you soon and thanks for the help! :) :) :)


[img]https://i1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd393/rsolis251/Photo47.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd393/rsolis251/Photo50.jpg[/img] - with me in it to show the scale.

The Helpful Gardener
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What direction (N/S/E/W) are we facing?

What do you have for compost?

How attached are you to the low rock wall? Can we use it?

I got some ideas...

HG
Scott Reil

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soil
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if your allowed to break up the concrete. i would break it into manageable sizes and build raised beds with them. this way you get more soil space compared to that tiny corner, and you get vertical space as well, deep soil is good for crops. the crops would be easier to manage and since you get a lot of rain they will drain well preventing water logged and stunted plants.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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lorax
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Speaking as one who has gardened in the Amazon (torrential rains daily), you'll want to start your plants somewhere sheltered and then transplant into the garden area once they're larger and a bit more robust. Seedlings can be carried away by heavy tropical rains, no matter how good your bed drainage is.

There are two solutions to it:

1. You can grow bananas, which provide a natural umbrella effect for the plants underneath, and also shelter them from really punishing dry-season sunshine.

2. Plant only in areas that you've observed to be semisheltered in the yard. Otherwise one good rainstorm can wipe you out.

You will also need to deal with the ants in a rather final and somewhat brutal manner, or they'll eat your veggies/plants before they ripen/grow. I like the time-tested "turn baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) into the nests, then pour vinegar on top" method.

rsolis251
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Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:56 pm
Location: trinidad and tobago

The Helpful Gardener wrote:What direction (N/S/E/W) are we facing?

What do you have for compost?

How attached are you to the low rock wall? Can we use it?

I got some ideas...

HG

The pics wud be facing NW. The wall on the left faces west.

The compost heap was started by my pops a while ago, it shud be mostly fruits and veggies, with sum leaves and cuttings in it, and maybe a few old mango seeds and coconut shells (we have a mango tree and 2 coconut trees)

Im not really attatched to the rock wall, however its all cemented together, its been there a while i think.. so i don't kno how possible it is to move or adjust it haha
Last edited by rsolis251 on Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rsolis251
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Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:56 pm
Location: trinidad and tobago

lorax wrote:Speaking as one who has gardened in the Amazon (torrential rains daily), you'll want to start your plants somewhere sheltered and then transplant into the garden area once they're larger and a bit more robust. Seedlings can be carried away by heavy tropical rains, no matter how good your bed drainage is.

There are two solutions to it:

1. You can grow bananas, which provide a natural umbrella effect for the plants underneath, and also shelter them from really punishing dry-season sunshine.

2. Plant only in areas that you've observed to be semisheltered in the yard. Otherwise one good rainstorm can wipe you out.

You will also need to deal with the ants in a rather final and somewhat brutal manner, or they'll eat your veggies/plants before they ripen/grow. I like the time-tested "turn baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) into the nests, then pour vinegar on top" method.
Hey thanks for the advice! I was actually planning to plant sum banana in the area, banana trees grow really well in this climate, but do you think the banana leaves wud block out sun from reaching the plants? Also, where exactly would i plant them, in between the plants? along the sides? outside the rock wall?

Also, i think the ants are all gone, they had a few nests against the wall but i raised them and there are no more ants. Should i still do this to be safe?

thanks again

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lorax
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Banana don't produce so much shade that they'll inhibit other plants; I grow "cool season" crops like lettuce, spinach, and bush beans under mine.

The one plant, though, that should not be under banana-shade is tomatoes - they need the hot sun to be healthy.

And if you actually physically dug up the ant nests, they're gone and you don't have to do anything else unless you see them recolonizing.

The Helpful Gardener
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Soil is ahead of me on the raised bed/rock/cement thing; using those on hand items to build a raised bed allows for you to add soil amendments and such and build good soil before you build a garden (organics is all about the soil).

If you can import more rocks and such (or logs, or whatever suitable media you find that isn't toxic or dangerous) and build up the soil behind that new wall you willl have deeper, more productive soil to start with. Keep up the compost additions (Dad's stuff sounds good, if a little light on the carbon side; think shredded paper, cardboard, wood chips or sawdust, etc.) behind the retaining wall you build. Soil is right, if you bust up the concrete and add it to the existing wall, your garden got bigger and your wall got higher; two birds with one stone as they say...

HG
Scott Reil

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Troppofoodgardener
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lorax wrote:You will also need to deal with the ants in a rather final and somewhat brutal manner, or they'll eat your veggies/plants before they ripen/grow. I like the time-tested "turn baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) into the nests, then pour vinegar on top" method.
How far into the nests do you put baking soda in? Do you just pour the powder in? And how long do you wait til pouring the vinegar, or do it straight after the bicarb?

I have an ant problem, and unfortunately did not deal with them to start with. They are rife through the garden. :(
A fledgling gardener's attempt to grow food in the northern tropics of Australia:
https://troppofoodgarden.blogspot.com

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lorax
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I dig the bicarb in as deep as I can into the ant nest, and I try to make sure that it's fairly evenly mixed with the nest soils, then add the (white) vinegar immediately in a ratio of 1 cup soda to 1 cup vinegar - but basically, add vinegar until it doesn't fizz anymore. I've found that making a bit of a crater in the nest is useful.

I should also have mentioned that I wear rubber boots doused in kerosene and sturdy rubber gloves when doing this. Ants do not take kindly to this procedure, and, particularly the leafcutters, will swarm and try to bite you for your efforts.

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Troppofoodgardener
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Thanks lorax for the tips!

yeah-uh.. no doubt the ants wouldn't like their nests being doused with carbonic acid. They're such annoying pests and nothing eats them! :evil:

I know that everything has its place in nature, and I'm not one who advocates mass killing of insects. But there's ants absolutely everywhere in my garden. They killed my corn plants, that's for sure.
A fledgling gardener's attempt to grow food in the northern tropics of Australia:
https://troppofoodgarden.blogspot.com

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