Tips on Gardening in Nicaragua and Elsewhere In Central America

peterchristopher's picture

The text concerning tips on gardening in Central America has been moved to What Food Crops Should I Plant in Nicaragua, in the Agriculture forum.

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scratch cabbage

I'm not an expert on the agriculture on the atlantic side, but I am fairly sure that everything in your list except for cabbage is possible.  My favorite cabbage substitute that grows anywhere is rape; it's more like broccoli leaves and doesn't make a ball like cabbage, actually it's more like collard greens which you can also grow if that's close enough to cabbage.  As with any garden, your best bet is to add abundant manure and/or compost and/or chemical fertilizer, and use local varieties that other people grow successfully, rather than buying seeds from far away.

Corn Islands

Hi I am about to start a garden on Little Corn Island. Would like to try to plant herbs as well as the following vegetables & fruits; tomatoes, cucumber, sweet peppers, carrots, chayote, watermelon, cabbage and avocado. Can you please let me know if I should avoid trying to avoid any of these things or if I should try something different.

Thanks
Jo-Anne

Velvet bean & manicillo

Hi Peter,

I have not participated in the trials and as far as I know velvet bean has not been tried. I do know that the manicillo has been very sucessfull in soil reconstruction and most animals like it as food. While you are using it and regularly mowing it, it makes a beautiful guilt free lawn.

I am firmly convinced that soil reconstruction is a top priority for a new community and essential to sustainable agriculture. Other suggestions here would be welcome.

Roy

comparison

Hi Roy, Welcome to the site! I am wondering whether you have ever tried terciopelo (velvet bean/macuna). I have grown that but never the manicillo you mention in your post. Can you tell us more about your trials of the manicillo and why you prefer it to velvet bean?

Peter

yellow mani

There is a plant that has appeared in Costa Rica over the last decade or so and which is used to cover soil embankments and such places which is sometimes called yellow mani. Now mani is one of the local names for peanuts and this yellow flowered plant is obviously related to the peanut but is not useable as such. It is quite a bit smaller.

One of our people, who is building a healthy goat herd, has been experimenting with this plant which is locally considered an ornamental and ground cover of very limited value. He is using it as forage and to reconstruct soil.

Many of us have bought land that is old worn out pasture with the soil structure badly damaged by cattle. Rebuilding this soil should be high on our list of priorities. Our trials with "mani" have shown that this plant forms a very deep root system, fixes nitrogen and, if mown regularly, wipes out competing weeds. The mowings are eagarly consumed by goats, rabbits and tilapia. The wastes from these animals can be used as compost.

Our soil reconstruction activities will be centered around yellow mani, "terra preta" (biochar), remineralization with rock dust or sea water, compost and some ground limestone. The 2,000 year old terra preta technique of the Amazon indians is not yet completely researched but indications are that it may become our best tool for soil reconstruction in the wet tropics.

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