Tropical Belizean Organic Hydroponics Garden.


Our main business ( FALCONVIEW TOURIST BACKPACKERS ADVENTURE HOSTEL ) is in the next building, we are building an extension and this Organic Vegetable Hydroponics Project is up on the third floor. You can see the other side of our narrow Green Parrot Valley in the background covered in trees. We only have a house lot in a suburb of Santa Elena Town in the Western Cayo District of Belize. To get space for a hydroponics nursery we had to build up.

We have an NGO, ( The Belize Development Trust ) which is internet based and composed of volunteers from all over the world. We don't deal in money. But volunteers have donated books on hydroponics vegetables and mailed me seeds, or brought them, and recently one volunteer visitor here brought me a replacement digital camera to replace mine that had quit. ( I paid for it! )

There is almost no literature on lowland tropical vegetable growing. The information is scarce. Vegetables are mostly temperate zone and growing them in the tropics is an unknown. As the country here changes with an expanding population, the old farming practices are becoming untenable. We conceived of a demonstration project to show people they could feed themselves without much in the way of money. Just five minutes a day in their backyard, or on a rooftop.

As you can see in the photograph, we use old cast off chlorax plastic bottles, ordinary soil ( 10% ) and the rest in sawdust and sand. This experiment is working great. We feed a family of three in salads out of 60 chlorax pots and are developing flower beds all around our Falconview Hostel. The experiment will run a year and already has run six months. Mostly we grow lettuce, radish, chiltepe, habenero peppers, long hot peppers, tomatoes, leek type onions, herbs of many kinds, like basil, spearmint and many others. We plant five new pots every Sunday as we use them up. We have groups and local people coming over to see what we are doing and some are actually trying their own gardens.

Since March 2006 thru June 2007 - 3 editions
These are the ONLY tropical vegetable books on Belize

Are you a single woman under forty, adventurous and want to retire in the Caribbean. See my daughter's Tina BLOG here and her story of building two hostels, one on Caye Caulker, Belize and one in Roatan island off Honduras. CLICK HERE! HOW TO DO IT!

Our 2007 year has finished ( Jan.2nd, 2008 ) and the results for weekly production of hydroponic vegetables in our nursery were successful. We now have downstairs started a pilot project small greenhouse shaded area to grow tomatos. We have 8 varieties growing and the one we are going to test the most is an Israeli hybrid called POLINA, which is supposed to grow three inches in diameter. Or 12 to 14 ounces in size. We wanted big tomatos.
In LETTUCE nobody in the country has been able to grow a HEAD lettuce yet, though many leaf type lettuces have been shown to grow. The best one we currently like is a Taiwanese Lettuce, a variety of POK CHOI. The Chinese government vegetable experimental mission has grown three varieties of Pok Choi lettuce and we have the one we like best, but not sure of the name.

We had no more space on our website. So our second project, a 13 ft x 19 ft shaded greenhouse Pilot Tomato Project using hydroponics is on Page 2. We started in February 2008, with about 8 different varieties of tomatos as test trials in 60 pots and bags. By March 28, 2008 we had increased the number of plants to 137 plants. We have another 8 or so new varieties sent to us from Volunteers of the Belize Development Trust NGO.

CLICK HERE! For page 2 with early photo of experimental tomato shaded greenhouse test site in Hillview, located at Falconview ADVENTURE HEADQUARTERS Hostel for Western Belize trips and tours.

This is a news blog of the Cayo District of the Western Belize Recreational and Agriculture Area. Kept up a couple of times a week, with news of interest. CLICK HERE!

Old man Ray Auxillou feeding the plants.

These are the ONLY books on tropical agriculture in lowland Belize! Rare editions of limited quantity - all now out of print! A Fourth and final edition is planned before the end of 2007. Then the emphasis will switch from soil based agriculture recording to hydroponics of which there are several operations in Belize that are successful.

Temperate zone vegetables can be grown in Belize. Mostly they need water and shading. Shaded vegetables are coming into vogue. There are minor problems according to season, but nothing unsurmountable. Planting can be done all year round.

In the six months this hydroponics nursery has so far run during 2007, the only problems we have had were the torrential rains during the month of January. It was then we wished; we had put 6 mil ultra violet plastic sheeting over our nursery before covering with sun shade screening. Next time we build some sort of shade, we would do that and recommend that plants be protected from heavy rains. We did have adequate drainage, but the surface of the soil in the pots built up algae and mushrooms would sprout daily around the vegetables. We were just getting too much water during January. We also had too much of our local black clay soil in the pots as a PH and food buffer and this clay type soil compacted from the rains into a greasy solid brick like mass and we had to re-pot on the third set of vegetables and shift to a 10% soil buffer mix with more construction sand and sawdust in the pots.

The next set of problems arose during the dry season, our summer of April and May. From mid April thru June, we were not able to get vegetable seeds to germinate at all. We continue germination experiments, but by end of June, sporadic rain showers and more clouds in the skies has returned what is our local Belizean summer, into SPRING weather again and soon we hope to get seeds germinating once again with cooler night time temperatures. What plants we are growing are being done mostly from cuttings. Soils in fields tend to dry from evaporation and big cracks in the soil run all over the place like a jig saw puzzle with cracks over three inches wide. April and May is hot both during the day and night. Too hot for most vegetable seeds. Plus the moisture evaporation in our location, which is in the foothill ridges and narrow valleys in the lee rain shadow side of the Belize Alps is excessive during April and May. We need to go in our hydroponics nursery to a fixed overhead fogger or mist type sprinkler, three times a day watering system.

Our hydroponics nursery as a first time experiment is of the very simplest type. Being, we water the plants and seed trays in the morning and evening from a garden hose and hand feed them from a plastic drinking water bottle, using our own plant mix we make from fertilizer and water. We now add wood ashes, and this week, will start our new compost pile and spray some compost tea also. For our 60 to 80 chlorax container pots, it is low cost and we substitute hand labor for expensive imported hydroponics equipment. We didn't know anything about growing vegetables when we started and the first four months were spent trying many different types of vegetables to see what would happen? Now we are re-potting and consolidating our vegetables, to several main types of plants to feed our household with salad materials twice a week. One big salad will last our family of three, up to two or three days, as a side dish to rice, French fries, spaghetti and other type sandwich meals.


Or this webpage on Falconview. CLICK HERE!

Our all purpose vehicle for freight and tourists.
Shuttle pickup with wood seats for six persons.

Neighbors visiting Falconview Tourist Hostel
This guy sells fresh vegetables by horseback to the door.

Our email address is:

Our slow mail address is: Box 276, San Ignacio, Belize, Central America.

Telephone: 663 5580

Experimental project for 2007 ( 12 months )
Growing vegetables year round. Poverty alleviation project by the Belize Development Trust at Falconview Hostel