Gardening, farming and agriculture.

Hi guys,

I have noticed that quite a few of you are very much into growing your own food and/or are into gardening quite a bit. I am pretty much addicted and thought it would be nice if we could all share some of our tips and knowledge of growing here on the island. I am also a seed saver, maybe we could exchange seeds down the line?

I am limited to container gardening at the moment but in the next few months I plan on branching out and starting some 4x8 beds on our family property. I will be using the "lasagna method" and we will also be building some spots to start and rotate our compost piles. Currently, I am using a local supplier for compost. It took me a LONG time to find them but so far I am pretty happy with them. We also just finished building a catenary kiln on the same property and plan on producing some earthenware pieces using local clay. As many pots as I go through, it will be nice to make my own. (Still learning so it will probably be awhile.) Btw, if you know anyone selling a pottery wheel, please let me know!

I'm really curious to hear what kind of challenges any of you might face that concern you and how you work out any problems. I'm sure every year is different for everyone but it would be interesting to know of any dramatic changes. Currently my container garden is being abused by the high winds (which started sometime in January I think) and scorching heat. In all the years I have been here, it has never been so bad. Many days I just have to pull the more tender ones inside to give them a break.

I am also interested to hear if you have a favorite nursery or local supplier. We live North/central and a couple of our usual spots are Byron Pike Nursery in Arecibo and Gramaslindas in Dorado. We plan on hitting up the entire South East corner next if you have any recommendations for that area. But ANY area really.

So, what are you guys growing, is it going well, what plans do you have for the future, is there anything on your wish list you are dying to grow? If you have photos, I would LOVE to see your gardens.

My farming here in Puerto Rico consists of forest agriculture and small vegetable plots. A lot of my experience comes from living in the Andes of Peru and South Florida. I plant seeds for trees in starter pots and directly in the ground. Once started they are basically on their own. I collect kitchen vegetable scraps and every few days I take a bucket of the mixture and dump it in some semi shady spot and later discover calabasa and or papaya, avocado, passion fruit , grape fruit or guanabana popping up. Then I have a hillside of calabasa and by the next year I have passion fruit followed by papaya and a couple more years Guanabana.  Once in a while I  will sprinkle on some time release fertilizer. Once the roots reach down to the moist soil a few feet down the trees get more rapid growth. I am working with a lot of land so I have the option to experiment with different locations . Vegetables need more attention but I have some kale that is on is own and has been surviving for about 4 years now. When I need more leaves I water more and then I let it rest. Basil last two years. Oregano and rosemary continue to grow. Step by step I learn and produce more. My specialty is curry leak and Kaffir lime. I just invented a nice rum drink. We freeze our delicious mangoes and put pieces in a blender with lots of ice cubes then I add a couple of curry leaves and presto a refreshing mangoe curry iced rum. Another beverage that we drink as a preventive for Dengue, Zika, etc is young papaya leaves brewed with lemon grass and guava leaves. The guava leaves help remove the bitter taste and the lemon grass adds to the flavor. All the leaves have health benefits withno toxic accumulated side effects. The Mayans use Papaya leaves for the prevention of these mosquito borne viruses, As you can read I work very much with what is available using ancient farming practices and new interpret ions.

Karen, The pottery idea sounds really cool. I would like to consider incorporating that into my like here. Have you ever considered building a kick wheel? You will not need electricity. I had a friend who built one in the 70's and he produced a lot of pottery. We have a lot of clay on our property., I made a small pinch pot and backed it in a toaster oven and I can see potential.


Thanks for replying, hope you don't mind, I have some questions.

What part of the island do you live and what kind of soil do you have? The lot that we are going to use is very clay heavy with a ton of rocks. It is also very small. I am interested to see what areas might have the most fertile/workable soil for the future as I have always wanted my own farm.

You said that you are growing curry and kafir lime for their leaves, most ppl here aren't growing those so I wonder if you're growing unusual trees as well? I would love to get my hands on both of those, we cook Indian, Vietnamese and Thai dishes as frequently as allowed. Do you know of anyone that sells those here? I can find seeds, but I would prefer an established tree. The drink you concocted sounds very tasty, I wouldn't have thought to mix those two items but it makes total sense now that I think about it.

Four years is a long time for kale, I hope to start some as well as collard/mustard greens in the 4x8's. My basil is the biggest I have ever grown since moving here, love it.

I saw that you mentioned the dengue/zika drink before, I made a mental note to try it sometime soon. We have plenty of free access to papaya/guava leaves and we'll be growing the lemon grass as well. I'm hoping it will provide an energy boost as well since this summer promises to be hotter than average. If spring is any indication.

It is likely we will need to make a kick wheel. My husband showed me a couple of plans but with everything on our to do list (and work/school) it will be some time before we can accomplish this. Until then our eyes and ears are open for a good used one.

You are very fortunate to have good clay on your property. Although there is a lot of clay on our lot, as I mentioned, it is too full of rocks to use. We found a quarry a couple of blocks from us though that sells a cubic meter for only $5. Before, we were hunting in the hills of Comerío and surrounding municipalities, getting a few 5 gal buckets at a time. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have found this supplier so close.

There are so many options for firing clay. For example, I watched a video of this young woman who finds enough clay for a few pieces, forms her pots outdoors with found objects and fires it right there in a pit. Her items were quite lovely. (For our purposes though, we needed a firing process more controllable) I love the fact their is no need to buy anything to make your own wares if you want to, nature has already provided everything. Thisis one of my favorite videos on youtube as well.

I am following this thread. Very interesting information.

Our farm is a large tract of a mountain top It is just above Ponce around 1200'above sea level. It takes about 15 minutes to get there from the center of town so it is quite convenient. most of the land is steep to hilly so I make terraces. The terraces are about 3 feet wide. we dig up the clay rocky soil with a pick ax and use the rocks to  make the border and hen fill the area with leaves, compost, etc. sometimes we use logs for the borders. Rotting wood holds moisture and helps with developing microbes, etc. in the soil. Mulching keeps the moisture in the soil longer. Once the soil dries out it can be like a brick. After a good rain the soil can stay moist for a week easily. The trees do very well with this technique but the vegetables need more attention with watering. Forest agriculture is what we are creating. It is a jungle of fruit trees, coffee, etc. all growing at different paces and all mixed up. I first experience this in the lower Andes of Peru it is also where I first encountered terracing on steep mountain sides. Puerto Rico has a similar terrain just small in scale.

This so interesting!  Thank you, guys.

Mrkpytn :

I first experience this in the lower Andes of Peru it is also where I first encountered terracing on steep mountain sides. Puerto Rico has a similar terrain just small in scale.

I'm so glad you mentioned this. We will be moving to Caguas next year and have a sloped yard. I'd be interested to see how you made this work. I have some ideas and have been Googling a lot but it would be great to see first hand.

Sounds like a lot of work but that's my idea of fun. Thanks for sharing.

Did you grow the kaffir lime and curry tree from seed or did you find someone local that sells the trees?

We can arrange for a visit. It is fairly simple to create a terrace and if you have rocks it is even better. I will be back on October for full time. I will be able to plant them and create more. I will post s nome thing on this site once I get back

The kaffir lime I grew from seed. The curry was bought on line and I received little starter plants. The groom larger than I thought so I may have to move some. Once they get larger they can be started from cuttings

Thanks Mrkpytn. Hopefully I can find a tree here, if not I'll order online. There are some fruit farms on the west/southwest I want to visit to knock out my wish list. I will be wrangling a group of ppl to visit one weekend, let me know if you would be interested in going. That goes for anyone else as well of course.

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