The Q&A Archives: Tropical Island Vegetable Gardening

Question: My step-daughter, who lives in the Fiji Islands is here visiting until late in January. We wanted to get her some seeds for her garden as she had had some problems getting vegetables that will grow in the tropics from seed. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Fiji makes me think of beaches and jungles, and cooling breezes off the ocean moderating the temperature. Fiji probably has a dry and wet season, so it's probably best to concentrate on growing vegetables in between the extreme seasons. Tropical soils sometimes have a hard time maintaining fertility, so she should make compost to enrich soil and fertlize plants throughout the growing season. Has she planted seed right directly in the garden? She may have better luck starting seedlings and transplanting sturdy young plants instead. Good transplant candidates are tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, okra, and melons. Perhaps the folks at Garden Research Exchange ( can offer some insight into your challenges, or at least refer you to other internet sites. Burpee has seeds for these crops - check out the on-line catalog. I'll be thinking of your stepdaughter's garden while I'm shoveling snow.

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