Beginning in the Tropics

Beginning in the tropics when it comes to growing food and saving seeds, can be
very different for some people, especially when they have moved here from down
south when colder climates dictate what is best to grow and what isn’t.

The first thing I notice with new arrivals, is they want to grow the same fruits and
vegetables that they have experience growing in colder climates. But, often these
colder climate varieties will not grow in the tropics and trying them, often ends in
disaster as the different temperatures and pests come into play.

The first piece of advice I would give is to get yourself along to your local Seed
Savers meeting and start to mingle with the locals who will be able to give you a
wealth of knowledge on what is in season and specific factors that come into play for
tropical zones.

We must also recognise that, within the tropical zones themselves, you will find that
there are smaller areas where, even though they are seen on maps as ‘tropical’,
there are things like humidity and elevation that also come into play when deciding
on what to plant at any specific time of year.

The next thing to remember is it’s very helpful to begin to ‘change your pallet’ and try
out as many of the edible tropical varieties as you can, especially the perennial
greens (of which there are many). These perennials can bring a huge amount of
food into your garden without too much stress and bother as they are very well
suited to the tropical zones.

Another benefit of getting the perennial greens into your garden is most of them are
able to be grown from cuttings so the need to go through a whole season, waiting for
seeds is not usually necessary.

Bearing in mind, there are many colder climate varieties that can be grown in the
topics, however, the ‘window of time’ for growing these in warmer zones is very
restricted. Check out the “Tropical Foods Guide (still coming)” for more detailed information and specifics.

Contributors:  Maria Gillies.

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