There is nothing like a garden club for an exchange of information. What are your local conditions and how do people cope with them? What have other people planted and when? Is this phase-of-the-moon thing important to them? All kinds of things can be learned just by sitting down with other gardeners.
Then there are the seeds. When you find seed packets in a store here, what you are buying is seed that was planted and harvested somewhere else. Usually that somewhere is the United States.
Bah! What do growers in the States know about your local conditions? Now, if there was a seed company based in the Florida Keys, maybe you would get some good results from plantings.
This is not to say that I haven’t planted U.S. seeds and gotten positive results, I have, but I am used to much better results. For example, the radishes I used to plant up North grew in such profusion that I gave them away. In my local climate, not so much. They didn’t germinate well, they grew slowly, they got nasty very fast. The packaged zucchini I planted was the same. Not a lot of germination and very little harvest – and you know how much zucchini you usually harvest. Heaven help you if your neighbors couldn’t help you eat it all. Tomatoes? They like overnight temperatures of 70 degrees or better. At 650 meters, you need a greenhouse or the like to provide that kind of heat.
And don’t get me started on corn. I planted U.S. packaged sweet corn, and the results were dismal. As it turns out, U.S. sweet corn is designed for 14 to 16 hours of sunlight a day. Who knew? Since our day is short by about two to three hours, sweet corn just doesn’t want to grow.
But enough ranting about when won’t do well. You may live at an elevation and in climate conditions much different from mine. Your tomatoes flourish and so does your zucchini, but you have problems with other vegetables you have planted.
So, if that’s the problem – U.S. seeds that don’t like our climate – what is the solution? I wandered into an agro-colono in Cañas and discovered small plastic tubes full of seed. Local seed! Harvested from plants grown right here in Costa Rica! Of course, they may not be from my local micro-climate, but they sure aren’t from a company in Michigan. Excellent!
Oh, and remember that garden club I mentioned earlier and what a great place a club is for exchange of information? It’s also a great place to exchange seeds from plants that actually did well in your local area. Halleluiah!