Growing gardens in the British Virgin Islands, regardless of whether for flowers or for food, are always fun. Watching things grow gives one a feeling of achievement. Where better to start a garden than in the BVI with warm temperatures and sun all year around?
Beginning a garden in the BVI might not be as easy as it appears. One must first decide what kind of garden is desired, decorative or agricultural? Both will need planning and design. A garden for growing food is the simplest; just plough the land into rows, plant the seeds and add water, then watch them grow. Right? To a certain degree, yes, but what may grow may not be what you planted, or it may grow too much. Most BVI soil is fertile and there isn’t any cold weather, so seeds sit in the soil and sprout crazily when they get the optimum conditions. It is possible to use chemicals, but they can often damage the environment. The right way is to dig up the land, add water and then let it sit for a couple of days, then physically remove all of the weeds and do it again. After around 2 weeks you’ll have clean, poison free soil. Now is the time to plant your seeds.
When planting crops and seeds, give them lots of room, because they’ll grow. Particularly beans, melons, pumpkins and potatoes will spread quickly and if they are too close together, they will choke each other out.
For decorative gardens lay out the garden with the flow of the land and pick species that match the lighting cycles. Bougainvillea, a climbing vine or shrub in numerous places, can fast become a tree in the BVI. Some plants like roses, actually need less warm weather with longer days to flourish.
You eliminated the weeds and have the garden growing, now you need to think about pest control, and in the BVI that does not just mean insects, though they can be quite bad. In some parts of the world there is a worry about one or two deer, they’re nothing in comparison to a herd of twenty goats that could turn up. Some places also have monkeys, so fences are not very effective. The best advice would be to Surround the garden with Alamanda and oleander, most animals will not walk through them! They also look more pleasant than rolls of razor wire on top of eight foot high fences!
Insects will be an issue, they adore gardens far more than goats or people. Some plants help repel them, but sprays are best. Use them with care. You may crush Neem seeds in a blender with water and it acts as a repellent and is even safe to eat!
Most gardens need mulching, it helps with water conservation, lessens wind erosion, and weeding ( those seeds of weeds will come back ). In the BVI, use coconut husks. They’re simple to acquire, contain natural growth promotants, and when placed correctly add to the decorative style. They also rot over time and fertilize the plants.
In the Caribbean the rhyme is ‘Mary, Mary, quite in contrast, how does your garden grow? With Yellow bells lined by conch shells all nicely in a row’. And it also grows fast and bounteous!