Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Veggies are Difficult

Cherry tomatoes are the way to go, but they seem to all come at once and it is hard to know what to do with them all! Usually I get sick of eating them so I cut the plant back by two thirds so it isn't like starting new (and waiting forever) but it gives me a tomato break. I let a lot drop and I leave them to make new starts for the next round.

The cinder block bed system is working pretty well - we'll see if we ever get rain. I tried raised rows and found that most things sprouted in the dips (were washed away or into the dips). I tried big mounds and they would meld into the ground as well. This seems like a permanent thing so far. I've got basil, cucumber, a couple squash and 2 aji dulce "trees" (they are 4 feet) in the close bed and tomatoes, pineapple, cucumber and a pepper in the other bed.

This is the first cucumber! I am excited. I've been cooking a lot of Thai food since it is "clean" (not saucy, greasy, cheesy, fried, goopy) and since it requires things we can actually get here - like cucumbers! I am growing lemon grass and ginger which are other main ingredients. Freshmart has fish sauce and I found green chili paste at Pueblo (still looking for red chili paste).

This is one of the aji dulce pepper trees. I want to prune it to make it look more tree- like, and keep waiting for the blossoms/fruit to finish. It just keeps going and going. These little peppers are a main ingredient in sofrito and they freeze well. So...gardening in Puerto Rico. The good thing is that once something has started, it grows pretty well. Some things just don't want to grow though, like zucchini. I am paying $1.47 for my favorite squash and in Seattle you just never ran out! It is great on the BBQ and in Thai stuff. One trick I've learned is to add sand to the soil. Another is to cut things in half when you think they are done producing. I've had one berejena plant that has produced 3 times after being cut down and fertilized. I still have to get more loamy stuff in the soil and water more (soil is pretty hard) and have got to figure out what to do about bugs. It would help if I could clean up all the tall weeds and grass around the area, but it just grows back so fast! On the right on the cinder block bed photo I planted Dichondra from seed as a ground cover. It has helped nicely on that section, and I weed as it creeps out and takes more space. You can walk on it and it holds the soil. I gets some weeds in it but has really helped keep things down. It just takes a while to establish. Ultimately to do it large scale I think the answer is gardening inside an enclosed area. It can be enclosed in shade cloth to keep insects out. Before that project happens I need to think through whether that area is where I want it permanently and I need to clean it up and put in permanent pathways or something around it. I would normally lay down cardboard, put weed block over it and then gravel, but when the torrential rains come I am afraid the gravel will merge with the mud or wash away. Any suggestions for vegetable bed maintenance? My garden is producing, but it sure looks bad! Maybe hydroponics are the answer?


Mike said...

Thanks for the garden update but, really, we're waiting hear more about the solar system: did you get the 75% credit? is it giving you the power you wanted? do the cats like it? Love your blog - I'm just not in to veggies (sorry).

Anonymous said...


We are learning to do gardening and we don't want to use insecticides. We have read that if you plant a few selected plants that repel bugs it may help. We planted some rosemary and marigold, and plan to introduce lemon grass and wax myrtle trees very close to our veggie bed locations. We don't know how is going to work yet though.

Good luck,


Anonymous said...

If you are going to buid a more permanent garden system, you may want to look into aquaponics. UVI used to offer a two week course on St. Croix. Aquaponics blends aquaculture with hydroponics. The by-products of a fish rearing system is used to fertalize the hydroponic setup, and the hydroponic setup filters the byproducts of the fish rearing operation. Seems interesting and it could blend well with an enclosed area of limited space. Solar power, aquaponics you could become the poster child of boricua sustainability and maybe even get some asistencia from el departamento de agricultura--or at least qualiy for agriculture tax benefits. You'd have to investigate.