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Tips for soil in high elevation tropics?  RSS feed

 
David Stetson
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Hello folks

I am about 2000ft up in a place called ATENOS Costa Rica on an old coffee plantation and it is here, dear friends, that i want to start the permie.
First, the soil here is rich in volcanic rock, and it is rather compact. I figure the first goal is to start with a good compost project in order to enhance our soil and to fertilize the already existing fruit trees.
Is there anyone out there familiar with this area, and if so, what are your favorite components for your composting? Is there anything you definitely steer clear from?

Thank you in advance folks!
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 514
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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David,

Seeing as how you have had no response yet from folks in Costa Rica (now, I was in San Jose for a long layover and quick city tour, many years ago, if that counts), I will venture a suggestion. Paul Olivier at http://www.esrla.com has done quite a bit of work in Vietnam, in particular, some rehabilitation of coffee plantations. I recommend that you take some time to review the documents at his website. You may be able to apply some of his ideas to your situation.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 988
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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David, I live in Hawaii on volcano soil & plenty of lava rock. I'm at 2300' elevation. Plus i have about 200 producing coffee trees on my farm. I have no idea if my climate and soil is anything like yours, but I'm willing to share info with you. Why not check out my homestead blog to see if anything there applies to your situation. And feel free to ask any questions you like. I may not have the answers, but I might be able to offer ideas that you could build upon.
 
David Stetson
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Su ba, do you have a link to your blog? I assume you are probably a little more moist where you are, as atenas has virtually zero rainfall between Dec. and April., but I assume there are still some similarities.

And thanks so much Andrew, that link is awesome
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 988
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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David, you can find my homestead blog at
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Scott Gallant
Posts: 46
Location: Costa Rica
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Hi David,

I'm familiar with your area. We've had a steady stream of PDC students from that Atenas over the last few years. We live not too far, but a bit lower (1000ft), in Mastatal. You can see our work and glean lots from our website and fbook page:
www.ranchomastatal.com
https://www.facebook.com/ranchomastatal

It is hard to provide any specifics to your question without a bit more context. Compost can be effective in the tropics for garden scale, anything larger than that and you will want to consider more passive systems (alley cropping, coppice management, keyline design, etc). Given the quality of your soil though, it might be a secondary system, and heavy mulching more effective. Most compost additions in the tropics will get broken down quickly, as long as you approach a good Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. Consider building the compost piles directly on your garden beds as well.

If you are interested in consulting services, myself and a few more from our core team have recently formed a professional landscape design/build collective.
Our website is still under construction (working on our portfolio at the moment), but if you would like more information you can find a bit here:
http://ranchomastataldesign.yolasite.com/

Don't hesitate with any questions and good luck!
Scott


 
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