íHola! I am living in Costa Rica on the edge of the Central Valley. I grew up in L A & the SF area, so I am amazed by my subtropical jungle!
After close to a year i begin to see what wet & dry seasons are versus the CA seasons (no laughing!). Ive walked thru hills & valles, watched local yards and haunted the local Vivaro (nursery), I am beginning to see distinct plants, where they grow in gardens & over the countryside, so hopefully I'm ready to plant our minimally developed gardens, slowly.
I am hoping to accumulate some thoughts & ideas from tropical gardners here - fast ideas, pleasures, recommendations of plant life & books, websites, what mistakes to avoid ... I will so appreciate any help or encouragement!
bienvenida papaya! it sounds as though you are liking costa rica. we are almost neighbors. i am in colima mexico, a neotropical region as is costa rica. i've been gardening here for 4 years...more specifically, i have a butterfly garden and it has been and continues to be quite a journey.
you might also want to visit the forums here on plant identification and insect identification. there are some super knowledgeable people at those forums who can id just about anything and i'll be happy to help with any questions you have. for sure there are different rules for gardening in the tropics. saludos,
You've certainly started on a new journey. The area you're in is not just "tropical" but would also be categorised as equatorial. You're about 10 degrees off the equator (I'm about 12 degrees from it) and you'll find that this is also significant for growing plants.
Over the year the change between the shortest day and the longest day is very small. Many plants coming from colder climates (including warm temperate) can't cope with such short days constantly. So you have to forget about most of the plants you're used to seeing in the US.
Also during the year you have sun on both sides of the house. If you put plants on the north side of the house to be in the shade, it'll be the opposite (sunny side) during the summer. Or the reverse for the southern side. It does get frustrating when your sun loving plants spend part of the year in the shade and shade loving plants end up in the sun for too long in the year.
If you do composting you'll find you can make compost very fast. But after spreading it you'll find it will also disappear very fast. Same goes for mulch. Everything rots away rapidly.
There's so many things you'll need to learn from the beginning. It's a big challenge, but all the wonderful new plants you'll be able to grow will make it all worthwhile. Have a great adventure.
Thanks for your enthusiasm & replies ... I find the sun on both sides of the how disconcerting! I've spent 6-7 months just watching how the sun behaves - subtle but significant changes from Dec. 21 - June 21st! Not like the US. Big fun!
big fun indeed papaya...lots of adventure and experimentation and learning. i notice dave's garden has new members from nicarauga and colombia in central and south america so this should add some tropical richness to the forums. costa rica is not called "rica" for nothing. it is a place so rich in flora and fauna that you can expect lots of surprises and would have to try really hard to be bored there :-D saludos,
It's so true! I'm not quite believing, as some gardeners here attest, that you can just shove a stick in the ground & it will grow, but nothing has died yet.
I have a specific curiosity today: I want to find a low ground cover for rocky hill soil that insects, especially mosquito, are repelled by. Any ideas? The area is two feet wide, six feet long, with some afternoon sun. Gracias.
Not exactly a low ground cover but Lemon Grass, Cymbopogon citratus, is claimed by some people to be a mosquito repellant. But I've been standing out in amongst it and still attacked by mosquitos. So I don't really think there's such a plant. However, if you find one please let us know.
i agree with tropic...but it might be a good question to ask the people in your immediate area and i'd love to hear what they have to say. i would approach the problem somewhat differently by working to attract swallows (golondrinas) to the garden. they can and do eat lots of mosquitoes! when swallows are around, my mosquitoes practically disappear. also the obvious checking for stagnant standing water and removing said water will lessen your mosquito populations.