Easy Vegetables to grow in the Tropics

We’re sensing a whole lot of passion on farming.  Suddenly, friends, acquaintances, even strangers have come to us, asking for tips on how to grow food.  Everyone is home, with the time and space to garden.  We now see how food is the very stuff of life and that the supermarket is fast becoming a wasteland.  Slowly, we are changing our fundamental relationship to food and the act of sourcing and putting it on the tables ourselves.  With an entire summer lockdown, slow hours and nothing else to do, people want to try their hand (and green thumbs) at growing some vegetables.

We recommend you do multiple crops in a few beds and then later practice crop rotation.  Multiple crops give you the advantage of having different plants that have different needs and benefits. For example, some plants may be home to beneficial insects that would kill/eat the pests of another plant.  Inter-cropping will also give you higher yields.  Following biodynamic farming, you should be inter-cropping leafy vegetables with root vegetables and legumes.  As a guide, leaf crops are heavy soil feeders.  Legumes are light feeders and improve the soil because they are nitrogen fixing.  Root crops are also light feeders.

Here are our recommendations on what you can try to jump-start your farming venture.  These are some of the easiest vegetables you can grow and are a good mix of leaf, root and legume (fruit) crops.

Beans and Peas

One thing you can do is to put a trellis where the beans can climb. Give them at least ten hours of sun per day and regular watering twice a week.  Some examples are sitaw and patani.

Bulbs, Roots and Stems

Turmeric is an easy crop to grow.  Place the bulb in a small pot of container until you see the shoots start growing.  Once you have this, plant the shoots in beds.  Eggplants are annuals that need full sunlight for about 10 hours a day and need pruning.  Okra is another annual crop which adapts well to low elevations.

Leafy Greens

The easiest to grow would be leafy greens like talenum, camote tops, kangkong, watercress, amaranth, malungay, saluyot and mustard leaves.  Arugula is also easy to grow.

These can be grown in beds or even in containers for a small kitchen garden or backyard.  Just make sure you have good soil with plenty of organic matter or compost, regular watering twice a week and full sun.


Lettuce can grow well if your soil is healthy.  Make sure your soil is rich in organic matter.  You also have to water them at least twice a week.  You can place them under full sun although some afternoon shade would also be good.  Best to choose loose leaf varieties and oak leaf lettuce that are hardy and better adapted to our hot climate. Here’s a great resource on growing lettuces (permaculture) in a tropical climate.


La Buena Mint, Thai and Holy Basil, Italian flat leaf parsley, Tarragon, Italian Oregano, Coriander, and Lemongrass thrive well even under tropical conditions and without needing a high elevation.


Mung bean is the easiest to grow and will make a great cover crop.  You will also need the legumes to moderate the soil feeders (leaf crops) and for its Nitrogen fixing properties (with nitrogen fixing bacteria, nitrogen in the air is converted into nitrogen in the soil.)

Pigeon Pea (kadios) is another legume you should plant for its nitrogen fixing properties. The peas can end up as nutritious food for the table, and you can use the plant’s leaves, flowers and pods for animals.  Its flowers attract the bees too.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is a good root crop for your multiple crop bed or small garden.  They grow well with the hot sun, have little need for water or fertilizer (don’t over fertilize.)  In fact, you might just have too much as they grow like vines on the ground. (Tip: they also need some space.) They also are resistant to disease.  Not only that, you can use them as ground cover and use it for mulching as well.

Adlay and Corn

Adlay or Job’s Tears is a perennial grass. You can later harvest it and get its grain.  Hulled grain can be eaten like rice, cracked as oatmeal or made into flour.  Another annual is corn.  Plant your corn with bush sitao.

Fruit Trees and Shrubs

Calamansi is a small ornamental tree and is drought resistant. Malunggay is also a perfect crop because you can eat the flowers, the tender leaves, and pods.  The roots may also be ground and used to substitute for horseradish.

Medicinal Plants

Have your own pharmacy and plant kulitis, damong maria, oregano, sambong, tawa-tawa or turmeric.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by CHENG WEN TSUNG on July 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I am Taiwan businessman Mr CHENG, I would like to make a purchase from you kadios (kadyos) 5000kg (black Bens)
    Goods delivery in Manila (goods to cash payments)
    Please quote to me, thank you


  2. […] What to plant?  This depends on your location and how much time you are willing to put into farming. It also depends on what you need and how much you can consume.  Also remember that there are crops that you can plant in the lowlands, and crops that will only grow in lower temperature or in the highlands.  (Read:  Easy Vegetables to Grow in the Tropics.) […]


  3. hello, where do u guys farm? is it in South Africa? We trying to find crops that can take really hot, humid conditions. (near Kosi Bay. South Africa)


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