Grow What You Eat – Jamaica Part 3

Grow What You Eat – Jamaica Part 3

Container Gardening in Tropical Climates

The idea for my Container Garden came after a combination of missing the pleasure of growing pesticide free foodstuffs and the desire to put some life into my dreary front veranda. As I live in a rented apartment I need to be aware of not changing anything, plus there is little outside space that I can claim so a Container Garden is ideal. Not only are they non-permanent, you can take all the containers, plants and soil with you when you move so it also saves money, time and effort too! It is easy to manage and keep an eye on a container garden and if something doesn’t work out they are inexpensive to replant with something else. As this is my first time container gardening in the tropical climate of Jamaica, it is going to be trial and error with what will work out. But I am encouraged by the results so far as seedlings start sprouting, this is a record of the growth as of 20th March 2014.

My Cucumber, Garden Peas and French (String) Bean Seedlings

The large planter that was sown on the 3rd of March has a selection of seedlings growing, all of which are coming along so well that I am wondering whether there will be enough room.  Although, I had planned to take out the Tomato and potentially the Cucumber when they had put on a few leaves, in order to give the beans and peas more room. The Tomato is growing at a much slower rate than the Peas and Beans and even the Cucumber is bigger, so the Tomato seedlings look too straggly to be moved at the moment. I am hoping that the Peas and Beans can be encouraged to grow up in vines, as they are ‘bush’ varieties and not supposed to get too big.

Making a Recycled Growing Frame

As there is a multitude of creeping vegetables in the large trough planter I have constructed a frame for the vines to grow along. I found three pieces of metal bar with pre-drilled holes along the length that  were unwanted, so I tethered them together in the corners and tied the whole contraption to the trough planter for sturdiness. Using the holes as eyelets I threaded a metal cord vertically across the bars until I had reached the top. I am not sure that it will be large enough to support all the Garden Peas and French (String) Beans in the trough, but I will extend it if need be.

Recycled Growing Frame

Recycled Growing Frame

My Beetroot Seedlings

The recycled 15 litre oil bottle that was planted up with Beetroot on the 11th March, has also seen growth and the seedlings are coming up in neat rows. I have sprinkled some egg-shell among the seedlings to help keep down the slugs and snails and I keep a keen eye on how much water they are getting. The container seems to be working well so far and is easy to slide around the tiny grass patch for the best spot to get rain, shade and sun.

Beetroot 20 MAR 2014

Beetroot 20 MAR 2014

My Lettuce Seedlings

Of the two types of lettuce that I planted up in recycled soda bottles the Oak Leaf seedlings are the biggest, although the Iceberg is making an appearance. There was a torrential rain storm which all but flooded out some of my collection of containers and I was wondering whether they would still germinate, luckily the lettuce wasn’t totally washed away!

My Okra Seedlings

I am really pleased that several of my Okra seeds have germinated in the 10″ pot. I have tried to grow Okra in the greenhouse at my allotment in the UK, but it was never successful. Although they would grow a few leaves and a tiny Okra would appear, the seedling would always die as it never gets enough heat and sunlight. I have high hopes for these seedlings in the tropical heat of Jamaica and hope I will get some proper growth off of them.

Okra 20 MAR 2014

Okra 20 MAR 2014

My Pepper Seedlings

Mmm, this is a bit awkward…. there aren’t any! They also got flooded out in the rain storm, along with the Tomato seeds in the small soda bottles and I am afraid they haven’t sprouted at all. I am disappointed that they haven’t grown, as I love growing peppers and especially hot peppers which bear quickly and ferociously and serve you with plenty of fresh pickings. But it is not to be. The egg boxes got totally waterlogged and then got really dry, it was hard to find a happy medium. The seeds had been taken from peppers that may have been refrigerated at sometime too and this is also not conducive to sprouting seeds.

My Tomato Seedling

My one little Tomato seedling that had hatched randomly in a flower pot has been doing well in its new home. The recycled soda bottle has much softer earth which is a combination of Organic potting soils and after a few days of stabilising its root system, it looks stronger and is standing upright. I am careful not to put it in too much direct sunlight and I make sure it gets just enough water to keep it happy. As I am aware of the damage a sudden rain-pour can cause to small seedlings, I keep it under the shelter of the roof overhang or nestled underneath a larger plant.

Tomato Seedling 20 MAR 2014

Tomato Seedling 20 MAR 2014

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Keep the Conversation Going…

Do you have any tips for germinating seeds in a tropical climate? What are your successes and failures in your container garden?

 

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