Tomato Growing in the Caribbean

Son_of_the_SunMarch 13, 2012

Hello all. I'm located in this small Caribbean Island called Saint Lucia and I'm just starting off a high tunnel under which I plan to grow Tomatoes. Firstly we don't have winter, fall, spring here - only hot sun and rain. Even when it rains it is hot, lol. We also are just beginning to get into composting and do not have potting mixes on the shelves at our stores. We basically use the soil that we have and add some manure (cow, pig, poultry etc) and our farmers have never seem to get a loose and well aerated soil like what I see in videos from other parts. We do produce Tomatoes but are highly inconsistent because of diseases and we make assumptions about soil fertility.

Can anyone offer ideas about how I can make the soil rich and ideal for growing tomatoes without compost, and the other soil amendments that are available in the USA and other more developed countries? I do have a compost bin that I made but it won't be ready until the next 3months. I am basically seeking some advice on the soil preparation to improve it almost immediately so I can get the seedlings going.

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Well. you can make fertilizer from fish parts.
Are there leaves you can till into the soil,or coconut or rice husks,coir ?
If the soil is too heavy(water retentive)you could try using your soil in a container with a wick to help drain more water out of it .

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 3:24AM
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Thanks dickie. I wanted to till leaves and some wood shavings but i'm told that these will compete with the plant for nitrogen as they decompose. Don't know if that's true but i think i'll add some peat moss into the soil.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:08PM
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I used to live in Malaysia which is hot and tropical, and found that things compost fairly quickly in the heat. One suggestion is banana peels. You can bury them straight into the soil near your plants and they disintegrate fairly quickly. If you have a local coffee shop like Starbucks, you can also ask for the used coffee grinds at the end of the day. These will mix in with your compost heap and break down pretty quickly.

What we also used to do (which you may or may not choose to) is pee on the compost heap. This is particularly handy if you have a 5 year old boy around. Or you can do what my mum's friend did and water her plants with dilute urine (don't splash any on the leaves though!).

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:26PM
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Wood shavings more so than leaves will compete for nitrogen. If you have leaves I say use them. Any organic matter is better than none, and the manure will add some nitrogen to off set that. How about seaweed, it adds micro nutrients and potassium.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:57PM
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compostgal(9a-CA Sierra Foothills)

I was also thinking about seaweed, too, but would be concerned with possible salt buildup unless you give it a few rinses with fresh water. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 2:11AM
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I am in Canada & sent down several varieties of tomato seeds to trial in St.Lucia recently. A Lucian friend was going to grow them in his & my parents garden. Strangley, that gardener has now been chosen to come up to Canada to work for a while - so I have lost my main St.Lucian garden experimentor!

You could try cheating a bit with your compost - put it in a black garbage bag & roll it around to mix it every day. It will be ready VERY quickly in the heat. If you have any wood char from fires/BBQ's you could add a bit to the soil.

Are you in the north or south of the island? If you are close to the rainforest try bringing home some of the soil from that area. It looked quite rich & "hummusy" to me.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:35PM
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