Vegetable Farming in the Tropics
by Tricia Carter-Natta
(Trinidad & Tobago)
Our Mesh Greenhouse
Early last year, I was offered early retirement from my work as an educational psychologist in inner-city Manchester and wanted to experience something different.
My husband wished to return to his childhood home on the island of Trinidad, which is just off the coast of Venezuela and only 10 degrees north of the Equator.
With little experience of gardening, we decided to become agri-entrepreneurs and grow lettuce etc. in the tropics.
So we are now the proud owners of eight climate-controlled vegetable beds. I've just germinated the first seeds and await the seedlings impatiently. Protection from the hot sun, insects and heavy rainfall (twice that of Manchester!)will be afforded by a mesh greenhouse, as shown in our photo.
The vegetable seedlings will be transplanted into beds made from concrete block and lovingly filled with our compost, mixed from cow manure, sand, soil, epsom salts, limestone, fertiliser and a little fungicide.
One quarter of the available space has been earmarked for an experiment in hydroponics, where vegetables are grown without soil. The equipment for this has to be imported from California and New Zealand, making the whole project rather expensive.
However, we feel if this popular technique can be adjusted to suit local conditions the investment will be worthwhile and we are already linked with the Government Agricultural Research and Training Dept. for future site visits by trainees.
Although there has been a lot of planning and hard work required to get this far, the day we harvest and sell our first crop will surely be one to celebrate!!
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