It’s a bucolic scene: Crops in a flat field ripening in the sun. Cows lying in the shade of the trees. It could be Kansas or Iowa except for that darn palm tree ruining the illusion.
No, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. This is Costa Rica, that sun is tropical, the crop is something I‘ve never heard of and those trees are guanabanas. It takes some getting used to, yes it does. On the other hand, there will be no tornados lifting the houses and no icy blasts covering the fields with snow. Here we farm and garden all year ‘round.
What do we put in the garden? Well, just about anything that doesn’t need a frosty night or two to produce fruit. That leaves out some things we love, things like peaches, pears, blueberries, and apples. It also leaves out that wonderful Iowa sweet corn because, as it turns out, sweet corn needs 14 to 16 hours of sun a day to ripen, and we only have 12 here. Far away, at the University of Hawaii in Hilo, they have developed a short day sweet corn intended for places like Costa Rica. (If you get to Hawaii, buy a pound or two for me?)
Of course, that still leaves us with quite a few things to plant. In fact, we can plant just about everything else and have expectations of a crop. It just depends on where and when we plant. Trial and error is a good teacher only a little slow. Take black raspberries (aka blackcaps), for example. In the States, I grew them in full sun. Here I grow them in partial shade because the ones I put in the sun grew and produced very poorly. Now that they have been moved to a spot with afternoon shade, they are making berries like mad. It’s like that in Costa Rica. The garden rules you learned elsewhere just don’t seem to apply.
Can you grow lettuce here? Yes, but mostly the leafy kind if you are at lower altitudes. Tomatoes? Yes, but protect them from too much rain. Sugar snap peas? Sure, but only when the time is right and they are protected from the afternoon sun. Peppers? Just about any time and anywhere….
Come to think about it, you are going to need more than one spot for a veggie garden.