The produce we grow in our vegetable gardens can be classified into four groups: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, etc. (Solanaceae); cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, etc. (Cucurbits); cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. (Brassica or Crucifers); and the rest, lettuces, carrots and whatever. The good gardener will avoid sowing any members of these groups …
If taste is your priority then you need to grow heirloom tomatoes. These are varieties that have been selected as superior and have been grown for many years, sometimes centuries. Heirloom tomatoes may have green shoulders, cracks around the stem end, uneven shapes and poor production but they will have good taste. They are tomatoes with character.
Papaya is a great fruit for winter residents to grow. Arrive on Abaco, spend a month settling in, then plant a few papaya seeds. Next year fruit will be waiting for you and be available all through your stay.
Although there are two or three months of production left in our vegetable gardens there are already signs that many crops are coming to an end. Lettuces, for instance, turn bitter as the temperature rises and many of our staples become stressed. Tomatoes started from seed at the beginning of April will produce flowers in late May and by that time our nights will be warm. Regular-sized tomatoes need temperatures below 68 degrees to set fruit. The best bets for late tomato production are cherry tomatoes, particularly of the large-fruited or grape varieties.
The Bahamas is a young country in geological terms. Its soil is thin and weak, very different from our much older neighbours such as Cuba and Jamaica. Traditional home gardeners compensate by augmenting their resources with soil from the US. Others use one of two extremes: hydroponic culture or organic gardening. Marsh Harbour accountant Glenn Koepp has chosen the latter path using resources from the sea and from local businesses.
The end is nigh. If you plant a tomato seed today you will reap ripe tomatoes at the very end of June or early July, but only if there are cool nights in May that allow your tomato flowers to self-pollinate. Cherry tomatoes produce earlier and self-pollinate more easily so …
Great love affairs: Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise, Bogie and Bacall, Rose and Parsley… Rose bushes grow better with parsley planted around the base and the parsley will grow green and lush.
I do not want to get into the issue of global warming but there are indications that many plants have moved to a different timetable in their flower and fruit production. Shooting Star clerodendrum – native to Papua New Guinea and the Philipinnes - was once a February flowerer but by the end of the first week of January this year Marsh Harbour had many clerodendrum shrubs in full blossom. Grass is still growing and needs more ‘out of season’ trimming than is usual during the cooler months. For the home gardener this means we can start some crops earlier than normal. Corn and watermelons are good candidates for February sowing.
By now our home garden should be more or less established with our favourite vegetables. The yard is tidy because we made special efforts for the Christmas season and the grass is behaving itself by growing very slowly. Now is the time to attend to our fruit trees and ensure they have all the sustenance to give us lots of mangoes, pears, dillies, grumichama, Barbados cherries, starfuits, longans, lychees, akee and citrus later on in the year.
A dear friend of mine has been bugging me to write about raising pineapples so I decided that the first article of the year should fulfil my promise to him. Pineapples can be started at any time of the year but that is predicated on the availability of the starting …