Easy Vegetables to grow in the Tropics

Easy Vegetables to grow in the Tropics

We’re sensing a whole lot of passion on farming.  Suddenly, friends, acquaintances, even strangers have come to us, asking for tips on how to grow food.  With an entire summer ahead, slow hours and nothing else to do, you might want to try your hand (and maybe your green thumb) at growing some vegetables.

We recommend you do multiple crops in a few beds and then later practice crop rotation.  Multiple crops give you the advantage of having different plants that have different needs and benefits. For example, some plants may be home to beneficial insects that would kill/eat the pests of another plant.  Inter-cropping will also give you higher yields.  Following biodynamic farming, you should be inter-cropping leafy vegetables with root vegetables and legumes.  As a guide, leaf crops are heavy soil feeders.  Legumes are light feeders and improve the soil because they are nitrogen fixing.  Root crops are also light feeders.

 

Here are our recommendations on what you can try to jump-start your farming venture.  These are some of the easiest vegetables you can grow and are a good mix of leaf, root and legume (fruit) crops.

String beans

One thing you can do is to put a trellis where the beans can climb. Give them at least ten hours of sun per day and regular watering twice a week.

Leafy Greens

The easiest to grow would be leafy greens like pechay, tatsoi, kangkong, mizuna and mustard leaves.  Arugula is also easy to grow.  These can be grown in beds or even in containers for a small kitchen garden or backyard.  Just make sure you have good soil with plenty of organic matter or compost, regular watering twice a week and full sun.

Lettuce

Lettuce can grow well if your soil is healthy.  Make sure your soil is rich in organic matter.  You also have to water them at least twice a week.  You can place them under full sun although some afternoon shade would also be good.  Best to choose loose leaf varieties and oak leaf lettuce that are hardy and better adapted to our hot climate. Here’s a great resource on growing lettuces(permaculture) in a tropical climate.

Herbs

CilantroBasil, Italian flat leaf parsley, and rosemary thrive well even under tropical conditions and without needing a high elevation.

Legumes

Mung bean is the easiest to grow and will make a great cover crop.  You will also need the legumes to moderate the soil feeders (leaf crops) and for its Nitrogen fixing properties (with nitrogen fixing bacteria, nitrogen in the air is converted into nitrogen in the soil.)

Pigeon Pea (kadios) is another legume you should plant for its nitrogen fixing properties. The peas can end up as nutritious food for the table, and you can use the plant’s leaves, flowers and pods for animals.  Its flowers attract the bees too.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is a good root crop for your multiple crop bed or small garden.  They grow well with the hot sun, have little need for water or fertilizer (don’t over fertilize.)  In fact, you might just have too much as they grow like vines on the ground. (Tip: they also need some space.) They also are resistant to disease.  Not only that, you can use them as ground cover and use it for mulching as well.