April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Garden Update

You may remember when we started a garden quite a while ago. I thought you might be interested in seeing our progress. Gardening in Panama is not the easy, high producing task that I thought it would be. Yes, things grow fast...but only when happy...and the weeds are ALWAYS happy.

In our garden we planted tomatoes in several places to test how best to grow them. Tomatoes are much more prone to problems with fungus and molds here in Panama because of the high amount of rainfall. The tomatoes planted out in the garden proper are still between 6 inches and 24 inches tall and are leggy and fairly unhappy looking.

To see if rain is the challenging part of raising tomatoes we planted in a bed under our eaves, right next to the house. These plants have grown quite big and sturdy. They are quite a rich green and have a ton of flowers and are starting to put on some good tomatoes. Of course, we have added quite a bit of compost and organic material to this bed to feed them. We have them staked up and only water them from below in order to keep the humidity down as much as possible.

We also planted tomatoes in a 5 gallon tank, and those are now fairly large plants…it is hard to see the tank from the front. All of the soil in this planter is from our human manure compost efforts (if you don’t remember that particular adventure check it our at: )…and the tomatoes seem to love it.

We just harvested the first tomato from this bucket planter, it took forever to ripen. I think that they are ripening slowly because they are under the eaves to protect them from the rain, but this also keeps them in the shade most of the day. The neighbors are very impressed by our tomatoes, most tomatoes die before they can produce…so I am keeping my fingers crossed that things keep going this well.

In addition to tomatoes we are growing sugar cane (the grassy looking stuff on the right in the photo below), zapallo (which is like a pumpkin or winter squash), radishes, a couple of carrots, and peppers. We are also growing canavalia and mani forajero - two green fertilizers (plants that are grown because they add nutrients to the soil as they grow). The zapollo is taking over the garden and my neighbors are all waiting for them to come ripe…they all want one. It is good to be doing something that causes envy in our neighbors. I should also mention that the number of family vegetable plots in the area has grown quite noticeably in the past 7 months. I don't know if things are related...but one can hope.

Update to the update: This week´s sucesses and failures - We harvested 3 zapollos from our vine and gave two to our closest niehgors. Also, we just lost a tomato to a fungus (I think?) on the lower stem just above the soil. So the battle for fresh produce continues.


Ginna said...

What a gorgeous tomato. I hope that was not the one you lost -- how great a fresh tomato would taste.

April Cropper said...

We did eat that one...but it is the plant that we later lost to the fungus. We managed to get two tomatoes out of it before it gave up to the invading fungus forces. It was one of the best flavored tomatoes ever...but a bit thick skinned.