By Fabien Madesclaire
In France my family always had a potager (vegetable garden). Year round we enjoyed the freshest vegetables either just off of the vine or canned and preserved. Our family’s home was in Burgundy, which luckily has an ideal climate for fruits, vegetable and of course grapes! Many intrepid gardeners move here to Vallarta, buy a property with a little plot of land to commence with their favorite hobby and proceed to have the same disappointing experience. They plant their old vegetable garden favorites and then everything bolts to seed, is eaten by bugs, or just completely rots from the inside out. In time they learn to take into account the reality of planting and growing in hot and humid weather. Here some tips on getting the most out of your Vallarta vegetable garden.
Figure in the bug factor. Some of the critters are good and some are not so helpful.
With good soil your plants will withstand the bugs and heat a bit longer, but sooner or later the heat will get to them.
Think about planting veggies that are indigenous to Mexico or that grow naturally in the tropics, such as tomatoes, and jicama. They can stand some of the humidity and thrive in this climate.
Tomatoes will grow well during the winter/dry season, but focus on the heat tolerant types. Cherry tomatoes are a lot hardier than the larger varieties.
Lettuce is a hard one, though, if you have to have your salad greens you might try the oak leaf varieties, as they are the most heat resistant.
If you are addicted to your greens, like I am, Asian greens or Chinese cabbages such as mizuna, mibuna, tatsoi, wong bok, bok choi, or mustard greens and arugula can manage in the hot weather.
For fun plant the Asian cucumber variety called “Suyo Long”. It’s tastes like your regular cucumber, though it’s pretty hairy and will need a good scrubbing if you want to eat the skin.
Choose Loofah and gourds as they are great zucchini substitute, seeing that zucchinis are very susceptible to mold and mildew here.
Eggplants, chilies and corn will grow well no matter how hot it gets.
Try out sweet potatoes during the summer/wet season also starchy tubers such as yams, taro, cassava that are staples in tropical countries grow well in hot and humid summers.
Think about some tropical beans like snake and winged beans, which seem to do fine during tropical summers.
You can also experiment with mung beans, soybeans, cowpeas and peanuts.
Getting hold of seeds is a big challenge here, so you might consider ordering them or having someone bring some from the U.S. or Canada.
For a comprehensive look at gardening in hot climates, check out this excellent book: Tropical Food Gardens: A Guide to Growing Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables in Tropical and Sub-Tropical Climates.
And this website is an excellent resource: http://greenharvest.com.au/SeedOrganic/SeedsHotHumidAreas.html
Here’s a list of some heat loving veggies:
• Asian Greens
• Bell Peppers
• Egyptian Spinach
• Chinese Cabbages
• Chili Peppers
• Sweet Corn
• Sweet Potatoes
If you need help finding your perfect spot to build your potager in paradise or have other real estate questions, contact me anytime at G3MEX Real Estate Group: 322-209-0832. Saludos!