Friday, July 24, 2009


* Summer supply of tomatoes meeting problems of supply in Belize. Tomatoes are scarce as farmers try to figure out what is going wrong?

From Ray Auxillou, July 23rd, 2009

Dear Andy ( re your query )

People are having a lot of trouble with tomatoes, due to night time heat, which they don’t like during the summers, and the need to find more suitable varieties for the environment of Belize. Experimental research is ongoing.
You can divide tomatoes into two groups. The varieties that will grow between late April through first half of September and the rest of the year.
I’ve tried many dozens of varieties of tomatoes with the assistance of foreign volunteers and donors mailing me seeds. The best Fall and Winter tomatoes have been the POLINA, which I bought from the local Agro Pro Store in the Twin Towns in Western Belize. The first batch were produced in Israel, the last batch I bought at the local Agro store were produced from Chile. The packs are very expensive, about $78 and the seeds cost about .10 cents each that way. I don’t know if you have feed and agro stores in Punta Gorda? Summer tomatoes that do reasonable are the cherry type tomatoes and plum type tomatoes. They are not really satisfactory though as a tomato crop in the tropics is tough to grow. I’ll stick to POLINA right now for next FALL and WINTER trials.
We get a lot of destruction from insects, nematodes, white fly, mosaic disease and a few other good stuff that like tomatoes. They are a difficult crop. What I’ve experienced is that you cannot plant tomatoes in the same ground again. Nor can you plant them in plots, or many rows. Just do one long single row, then switch to another location far away for next time. All vegetables like humus, or loam soil. You have to make it, if you don’t have it naturally. You get wiped out quickly. For the last two months there have been a scarcity of tomatoes in the Macal River market stalls of the TWIN TOWNS out West here and I suspect you will not be getting much in the way of tomatoes in Punta Gorda at all. At least not until you plant in late September and reap around January?
There is a book I wrote on research of vegetable growing. I sent a FREE COPY to the guy that mines and sells DOLOMITE LIME in Punta Gorda. Ask him to borrow the book, which was the state of the art in vegetable growing in Belize up to a year ago. You might ask your local National Library librarian in Punta Gorda, to order the book from Belize City, or Belmopan National Library service. I gave them some FREE BOOKS. They did not buy any, and the publishing effort cost me about $700 each time I published a small lot of two dozen. They are now out of print. Nor do I have the spare cash any more, to publish again. I don’t have the money to support the Government of Belize. We quit doing that vegetable research printing, since the government Ministry of Natural Resources received European Union GRANT money to do those sort of things. They are unlikely to do anything so useful for small farmers. That is my experience. The government is terrible about disseminating useful information, hence my BLOG. The book you want is the last edition, or the FOURTH EDITION of the Belizean Vegetable Farmers Bible, published September, 2007.
Your contact person is Teresita, who is the Central Farm Agriculture vegetable agronomist. Her e-mail is: Government bureaucrats don’t respond to e-mails mostly, though they get a salary.
Central Farm has some vegetable research funds and they have extension officers all over the country. I’m not sure how that works, but there must be one near you and you should ask for a personal visit by them. Right now vegetable growing research is still in infancy and it is a bit like the blind leading the blind. Research we did, showed you could grow vegetables all year round, but you have to have the correct varieties. Also you have to fix your soil right. Something nobody knows how to do. I’m currently building my own worm farm to make my own humus. The story is on, or will be on, the BLOG eventually to make good soil.
For example we found Tropical Emperor leaf lettuce the best, but lately they have not been growing well in the summer warm months and so I’m experimenting with some MUSTARD SPINACH and MUSTARD LETTUCE varieties. It’s a bit soon, but on my BLOG ( ) will shortly take some photos, as both of these are growing well out here in Western Belize in Hillview. Whereas my other winter favorite Tropical Emperor lettuce is doing lousy this summer. I’ve got some mysterious critters, crows or birds or something stealing my young seedlings that I transplant though. So I’m trying to go to bigger seedlings, in bigger seed trays to overcome that problem. Plus I’ve shifted my seedlings into a more protected area for starting. Hot summer month varieties is where the most research needs to be concentrated, but it is still early years yet, to figuring it out.

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