newbie from South America

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Bea, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. Bea

    Bea Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hola from southern Ecuador. i am at 4800ft and right now it is the start of the rainy season - hot and sometimes a humidex of about 34/5C. Living in a rental with a huge yard. Problems are any kind of root vegetable that is not native to the climate (including garlic), beans and tomatoes. Anything else grows like weeds - e.g. sweet potates! Never had so many flowers. Since beans and tomatoes are staples and indigenous here it is puzzling. It isnt all mandrakes either because I am growing eggplant quite successfully, plus i grow sweet and hot peppers - but in bags. At this time of year I have to protect the peppers and tomatoes which grow much better in the dry season. that's all for now. it has been a learning curve for sure.
     
  2. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi there Bea & welcome to this friendly & very informative forum.
    Hopefully we can help you grow some of those elusive veg.

    What happens when you try to grow them?
    Do the plants grow at all & if not how do they die?

    Have you tried growing some in pots or bags as a comparison?
    Perhaps there are nematodes in the natural soil at your place that eat the roots.
     
  3. Bea

    Bea Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I grow only in bags of some kind 'cause the soil is so rocky. I have had to hire out to get roses and hibiscus planted cause it takes me three to four times as long to chop out the holes. It is usually bugs of some kind and with the beans it is bugs and viruses. The only tomatoes that are successful for most are either cherry tomatoes or toms grown in greenhouses. The other, obvious , problem is that I like a lot of the non-native varieties. Once I get something growing then I use only the seeds from that produce but it is still hit and miss. I have one tomato plant at the moment that is growing under protest. it is a native tomato but I was hit by flea beetles this year (seems to be something different all the time) so it is kinda sad right now but recovering - diatomaceous earth helps. Some plants do not bolt - even in this heat - so getting naturalized seeds from an original plant can be tough - think spinach (too hot here) and other brassicas, or sage (too wet). I was nurturing one wee sage and it was growing well - under cover but plenty of sun - until I transplanted it into a larger pot, then it developed a fungus and died, FAST. another difficulty is planting at the wrong time of year. same here as everywhere else in the world!. a good example are bush beans. Last year i planted in a 3x3 raised plant. they grew beautifully then the pods rotted! I planted too early in the rainy season so the pods never really got a chance to dry up. A recent success however was garlic. I learned about vernalization, that was just a natural thing back in Canada. So i throw bulbs in the refrigerator and plant out the cloves about every two to three months, and deeper than i would normally have done. Still hit and miss 'cause garlic is REALLY difficult in this climate and most of what to buy is imported from China. The native grown garlic is quite expensive. So, there you have it for today. Thanks for accepting my membership.
    Gardening is always about learning.
     
  4. Robyn67

    Robyn67 Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi Bea
    Seems like your doing very well in quite challenging conditions. Look forward to reading more about how your garden is growing.
    Robyn
     
  5. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Yes I agree, very difficult growing conditions, that's for sure.
    Just reading back again regarding you having difficulties even in pots or bags.
    I assume you are using commercial bagged potting mix to grow some veg?
    Maybe there is some sort of pH issue that causes the plants to be unhealthy from the get go, so they are more prone to infection.
    If not the potting mix then perhaps the water?
    Is it very alkaline with lots of calcium in it perhaps?
     
  6. Bea

    Bea Member Premium Member GOLD

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    No such thing as commercial potting mixes. Just bagged compost from variety of sources or you make your own. Water? It's in the mountains! and I must add calcium to ward off tomato blossom end rot. No, I do think it is mostly bugs of some kind with a leaf virus attacking beans. Any kind of vine does really well - one of the main reasons i think that cherry tomatoes are easy but doesnt explain the pole bean problem. there are days when I just want to give up. I started using organic liquid seaweed and it certainly helps the growth but then something always happens. Radishes and nasturtiums growing around the pole bean planting area are growing like weeds even tho I only water the inside part where the beans are located. Did I mention that the roses are beautiful and they are in the ground but they are a permanent fixture. tomatoes arent.
     
  7. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    OK so we are narrowing it down!
    Your roses are doing well in the ground. Are they flowering?
    If so then there is enough potassium & perhaps not so much nitrogen.
    Although roses like some nitrogen, they don't flower well if there is too much & they can be prone to leaf ails.
    Whereas for the beans & other veg to get going well without disease they need a fair amount of available N.
    I say 'available' because you can add animal manure & compost to your soil but the N might get used up in the natural processes of composting before the plants get a go at it.
    Extra N needs to be made available at planting time as it is a short term element & also water soluble so if there is a lot of rain it gets washed out of the soil.
    Blood & bone is a really good source of natural nitrogen. In your neck of the woods that might come from a chook abattoir. It might be really raw & you will have to compost it some how.
    One way to do natural composting of meat products is to bury them in marked holes along with some other nutrients or good compost, wait a few weeks to months (depending on what sort of animal remains were buried), then plant into that hole.
    Chicken waste breaks down in a few weeks usually. Red meat waste can take many months depending on climate.
    Another way is to make huge compost piles & bury dead animals or waste deep enough in the pile to not attract pests (dogs, flies, etc)

    You say the radishes & nasturtiums are growing great but the beans in the middle are not. Did you add compost etc right where you placed the bean plant or seed? Are the radishes & nasturtiums growing in the natural soil around or are they all growing in soil you placed there?
    It could be either that the particular variety of bean you are attempting to grow just isn't suited to that soil or location.
    I'm sure there would be other varieties that would be more suited. There are 100's of bean types & many will grow in your area for sure.
     
  8. Sherry Robitson

    Sherry Robitson Texas Bluebonnets Premium Member GOLD

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    Welcome Hola. You will so enjoy this forum. There are people in this forum from everywhere! I luv e live Texas where I don’t get much rain. And the soil and water are very alkaline. Raised beds have been my key. I have gone to all raised beds and we harvest rain water.
    I look forward to seeing your posts.
    Sherry
     
  9. Bea

    Bea Member Premium Member GOLD

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    My roses have abundant flowers. when planted i just dug the hole then threw in incomplete compost and filled it up with the soil (and rocks) from around. I use stones (plenty of those) as the mulch and even in the dry season I may only water - deep - once a week.
    I add the compost first to all bushes, and the veg bags before topping with whatever i may have around in the way of soil or purchased fine compost. It is definitely why, being just me and one large yard, I never seem to have my own finished compost LOL. I also apply compost tea maybe once every ten days or so - I have two buckets going but it only accommodates one section of the yard at a time. Once a month I crush a friend's contribution of eggshells into a powder and distribute to all roses, tomatoes, peppers. My compost gets coffee grounds everyday and I pour off diluted cold coffee into my compost tea buckets. Lately i have been adding a bit of epsom salts to the tea before watering.
    For vegies, in the boxes, everything but root vegies seem to grow really well, and I did discover those giant grubs were eating roots of a lot of things. Since, i think I have conquered that with DE. BTW the ecuadoran carrots grow everywhere as long as the soil is good and it is deep. They tend to stubbiness which makes perfect sense to me. I think that I mentioned that greens grow really well altho some lettuces are prone to bolt too early in the heat - small price! spinach and kale are practically perennials from one plant, arugula just seeds it self everywhere. I have tried transplanting mezuna but it always dies. any thoughts? Both Italian and curly parsley love this time of year. They are difficult to get going but then there is no stopping them and they are both planted in the ground with no additives except the compost tea. And, then there are the sweet potatoes - oh heaven. I dont waste them on the boxes. If I have a minimum of 6 inches of soil somewhere the vines go in. from a permaculture blog I have the idea of planting these vines around my two fruit tree saplings a bit later on.
    I built a shallow circular planter with rubble, dug up the soil in the middle and planted the pole beans. They have a thick mulch of rice hulls. So maybe the fact that I havent really done anything to that patch is the real problem. I always read that you dont need much to grow beans but the bush type in the box, as noted did extremely well until they just rotted from too much rain. Live and learn. The nasturtiums just went into the rubble and are self seeding. The radishes - well i dont like radishes but read that they a good companion plant for beans. They are planted just on the outside rim of the rubble. Earth just scraped up and a lot of gravel/stones removed. They are gigantic -height of leaves and size of the radishes themselves. Very pretty actually and I just divided a few and transplanted in the bare areas. I am hoping they will flower but it's doubtful. I just planted some local pole beans that I like so we will see. The one bean that I am having huge success with is the Purple Hyacinth. (There is a local variety that is a staple both for soups and fodder for livestock but I have not yet identified it.) This plant is gorgeous, prolific and since I collected pods and stripped the dead and dying leaves it is regrowing. Very bushy. I highly rec'd this little guy. People are reluctant to try eating these beans which seems a shame. Young pods I guess can be stir fried but the mature beans need to be double cooked. Well who wants to do that! I am taking some in to see my goat milk lady this morning because we both discovered that the fodder is excellent for milk producing goats! This bush is growing in an 18"x18" pot that used to have a tomato growing in it. and my strawberry tower is just pushed into the soil beside it. The pot is beside my door and under an overhang. It gets the hot hot sun from the west everyday but is never rained on, and, as with everything else gets compost tea whenever.
    Obviously I could go on and on but not today. Thanks so much for your responses. Sometimes you hafta see things from a different perspective to catch on.
     
  10. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    So from this post I would say you have the fertility covered beautifully, Bea.
    I think you might simply have a moisture issue with lack of drainage in some parts & in some seasons.
    Those big grubs you refer to I am thinking are something along the lines of rhinoceros beetles or similar...those really big black shiny beetles.
    Your carrots & other roots might not be doing well due to the high amount of nitrogen.

    After reading todays post I feel you have no shortage of that element.
    Not everything likes extra magnesium from the epsom salts. Also keep in mind that it can build up in the soil over time.

    So, yes you might just have some soil crawlies eating their unfair share of the roots of plants & there could be a bit too much moisture being trapped around the roots of plants too. So if the roots have damage from being munched then get a bit too wet, the plant will probably suffer.

    Decomposed compost otherwise known as humus, holds huge amounts of moisture in the soil. Its what makes soil good or not (mostly). It is certainly responsible for the water holding capacity of all soils.
    Hungry soils are generally devoid of humus & no matter how much is applied it seems to disappear within days & the soil returns to being hungry & lifeless.

    It could be that you are adding too much compost at certain times of the year.
    So prior to wet season, apply less compost to soils that were amended in the past several months so the microbes have a chance to 'eat' that rich food you gave them. If they don't eat it & 'poo' it out, the roots cant use it so it sits there holding water until it is waterlogged.

    As the wet season approaches, only apply fresh compost to soils that have grown a hungry crop & in need of more 'food'.
    Cabbages, corn, tomatoes & some root veg are hungry crops.
    Doing that might also allow you to develop a batch of finished compost.

    Reading what your plans are for your sweet potatoes reminded me of a New Guinea method of growing them which works very well in that wet humid climate which would be similar to yours.
    They grow their fruit trees in the center of high wide mounds several meters across. They create their new compost around the outer edges of the rims of these mounds & as it matures it is pushed to the top of the rim & inwards closer towards the trees.
    To plant the sweet pots they break about 60-100cm off the ends of existing vines then push those cuttings deeply but still horizontally into the sides of the fresh compost sides of the mounds. So the outsides of the mounds but still well above natural ground level so the drainage is best it can be in their wet seasons. The roots develop along the parts of the vines that are deepest inside the mounds. When it comes to harvesting they can undermine the vines because they were planted above ground level in the first place. So the vines can continue to grow new roots while being excavated for mature roots at the same time.
    Ingenious! They also grow cassava on the mounds in a slightly similar fashion. They can harvest roots from below while the plants lives happily on the top of the mound rim.
     
  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hola!

    Thank you for joining SSC and welcome to our forum!

    Yeah, it grows easy from seed so perhaps sow where to grow rather than transplanting (especially in a hot climate). I'm in the sub-tropics also, and even transplanting corn seedlings is hit and miss - luckily we've had a run of mild weather with heaps of rain so my transplants have had a better run but generally, I try not to transplant as much in our climate.

    Yes it is... I only start our garlic in winter here and it will do pretty well if our spring is dry but if we get early rains as the bulbs are developing the harvests are ordinary - hit and miss alright! :)
     
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