moving to Ecuador!

djimbFebruary 16, 2013

I'll be moving to ecuador in a month, and I have plans to grow as much of my own produce as possible, but being from the northwest of the US, all i can think of that would grow reliably are annual cool weather crops like brassicas. the city i'll be in is at an elevation of about 2600 meters, and the average high temps are ~60-68f, and the nighttime lows are ~40-48. I've tried to find information as to what sorts of crops are grown at that elevation, but there's woefully little information. I've read that peruvian asparagus is forced into dormancy via lack of water, but can't find specific information on this either.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,

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zzackey(8b GA)

Wow! How cool! I would suggest that you grow lettuce, radishes, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, scallions, leeks,potatoes, collards, mustards,English peas, snow peas,parsley.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 7:39PM
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Yes sounds great! My suggestions is to snoop around when you get there and see what is at the markets and what is growing in the area, might be a good plan to try some of the local seeds and experiment with some from north america, horticultura feliz (pardon my espaniol)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:10PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Sounds like a great way to get to meet some new friends once you arrive. See if anyone is growing anything, then ask them how they do it! Otherwise, it sounds like cool weather crops might have an edge over some of the warm ones, just based on temps, but I would think you could grow plenty of things. Sounds very exciting!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:56PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Jim

What city are you moving? is it permanent or temporary? That will be very important to advise you. The idea of visiting the local markets is the best, sometimes you can sample the cooked food there and see if you like it. You will have to learn to bargain for prices. Restaurant where they have a price fixed menu are the best values. You can get a soup, salad, fresh juice, main dish and a dessert for about $3, those prices were about a couple of years ago, maybe now are increased a little bit, of course they serve smaller portions. You will be in for a great food experience and you will taste fruit and vegetables at their best. If you need help in labor, it is usually very affordable. Most people not only affluent but middle class have servants.
If you need any specific info, feel free to send me an email...Good luck with your move!


    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 9:39AM
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At that elevation most of our common crops will thrive. Might have to irrigate some during the dry seasons. The best part though is that as well you can grow all the high-elevation tropical frost-intolerants that are very difficult in north america (even in most of florida): guava, tree-tomato, and countless more.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:38AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

The first thing that sprang to my mind was potatoes. You will be in the cradle of potato culture. I should think the locals will be able to supply you with as many as you want to get started.

But I'd also bear in mind the contribution you could make to the local economy by buying vegetables locally and employing some local help, as Silvia suggests.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:40AM
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This isn't a political forum, but since Silvia raised the subject: my opinion is, why exploit people who have nothing to sell but low-paid labor just because you can?

Do we want to address why they have nothing but their labor? Is it because they have no land to speak of? Does it have anything to do with multi-nationals and the fact that the europeans still control south america? After that we can talk about how they control north america as well and why do the native north americans mostly wallow in isolated poverty and misery?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:38PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

While the points you raise are interesting, I would suggest that an obvious answer is that in employing someone for labor, you give the one thing you as an individual have that can immediately help another person have more freedom: money. And you do it in a manner that allows them personal dignity. It is not neccessarily exploitation to do this. We each of us a have a finite reach. And while I may wish to address every concern you raise, as a single human being making my own lonely way through life, constrained by inner and outer limits, it may simply be beyond me to take on world powers. Sharing my money with those around me may be the best avenue I have for making a difference in the world, even if it seems too small to you.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 10:47AM
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I don't entirely disagree, and your argument is a familiar one. The highly inequitable situations exist, based on past events, the question for an individual here and now is what is the most ethical course of action. Probably the answer is that there are as many solutions as particular situations.

For me, though, if I were moving to Ecuador, and I don't need servants here, my question to myself would be why do I need them in Ecuador? My second question to myself would be why can I afford them (and maybe deserve them) in Ecuador but not someplace else?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Those average temps are probably for the entire year. I'm sure it gets warm enough to grow warm weather crops also. It's the EQUATOR for god's sake!

With that said, I agree with others that the markets are probably going to be the best places to see what grows best in that particular climate and soil..


    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!

My girlfriend and I will be living in Alausi, which is about 3 hours north of Cuenca, and more or less the same elevation. We'll be running a hostel, and after having volunteered at one owned by the same people in quito, we're well aware of the quality of the produce available at the local market. I imagine we'll still buy many things there, as the garden space might not be big enough to feed our maximum occupancy of 24 people for two meals a day. I think i'm going to focus on interesting heirlooms for the sake of increasing the presentation value of the dishes we cook (our cooking is what got us the job).

We're planning to stay for at least two years, and this is why I'm not counting on tree fruits, though I will do my best to find avocado trees that are close to fruiting age, as well as guava (I'm very tempted to bonsai one, as they look very similar to stewartia, with the added benefit of delicious fruit), and possibly tomate de arbol or others.

Regarding labor, we wouldn't have had this opportunity without having been accepted as volunteers in quito, which also allowed us to save quite a bit of money while travelling. I think once the hostel is established, we'll probably take on a volunteer or two as needed. This will also help to allow us each a day off here and there.

I've also considered starting a gardening blog focused on what can be grown in the highlands of northern SA, as I've been able to find woefully little information (for example, some apples are grown in ecuador, but to my knowledge apples need a temperature mediated dormant period... this confuses me). I'm told Alausi is surrounded by agriculture, so as my spanish improves, I intend to do my best to make connections with farmers and ask loads of questions.

Thanks again, everyone!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 3:34PM
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Sounds like it will be an interesting adventure.

If the climate is like the area around Bogota, where I have been, it seems like nearly every food crop grows easily.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 5:17PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Jim, sounds like a great opportunity for you and your girlfriend to learn about the country, the customs and the language. You can grow a lot of veggies and fruit. Corn, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, carrots, all kind of greens,brassicas, lettuce. I don't know about avocado growing there, they usually prefer the warm valley, fruits that are from temperate weather like peaches also grow in warmer areas like Ambato, tropical fruits grow in the coastal areas. Apples don't do well with the exception of very small sour apples that are used in cooking. In most areas the land is very rich and most things are easy to grow. Last time I was there I bought like 20 tomate de arbol aka tamarillo for under a dollar, I am growing 2 in my house now, there is a yellow and a red variety. From seed it takes 2 years to fruit, from a cutting 1 year. If I was you, I wouldn't waste my time with them, you only have 2 years. It is probably more economical there to buy veggies and fruit in quantity than to raise your own. Families usually buy sacks of potatoes, onions, banana bunches to let them ripen in the house.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:44AM
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Silvia, you've been able to grow tree tomato? We ate some of those in Colombia, I like them.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 2:55PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Pat, which one did you try, the red or the yellow? I have seeds for both of them but the yellow do better in my area. Today after the freeze, it is getting dark outside....

It fruits around July

The best avocados that I have ever eaten grow in a warm zone in a valley near Quito, the second best grow in my house here, the Brogdon in my opinion better than the Haas, not to be confused with a tropical avocado that I don't care for it. It is about 20 feet tall.

I am also growing yacon and I have some tubers in the yard and some in pots, just in case they don't make it with the freeze.

If I remember correctly, Alausi should be great for dairy products...


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:22PM
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responding to
â¢Posted by pnbrown z6.5 MA (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 17, 13 at 18:38
I know this is a year later but feel compelled.
so many misconseptions about cost of living and cost of labour.
if i employ a housekeeper I AM helping the local economy and that person's family. same with laborers. Just think about that before becoming self righteous. people need to eat and clothe thier families. I can pay a bit more than the going rate but unless I am a revolutionary in hiding and will carry thru to the end that's about as far as anyone should go. eventually the local's kids will be healthier and betteer educated and will change things themseves. that's where we help out. by employing them to begin with. We aren't slave traders. people have the option to go work for someone else. they aren't servants. I know a fella who started as a common labourer; became a contractor - all for expats; is a respected employer of other locals; owns and lives in simple two story house and rents the top floor to a friend of mine. awfully nice family. and BTW many many people in North America not making a living wage. Why is it OK to 'exploit" your own people.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:17PM
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If the climate is like Cuenca's, you should be able to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini fairly easily, especially if you use black plastic mulch.

Plus all the veggies that have been suggested by others. And don't forget beets, carrots and chard.

The only crops you may not be able to grow are the heat-lovers, including peppers, eggplants and (water)melons.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Sun, May 4, 14 at 14:46

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:45PM
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You make good points but the picture is far bigger than that.

The very fact that OP is able to say "OK, let's move to Ecuador and have a garden!" is proof of the divide between the developed and developing world. For most Ecuadorians, it's a wild fantasy to be able to move to the US at all, much less move to the US and have a house and garden. No offense to OP intended.

So in the grand scheme of things, the ability to hire cheap labor is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Substitute US with Canada, Australia or any other new world developed nation, and substitute Ecuador with any other developing country. Same story.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Sun, May 4, 14 at 14:53

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:51PM
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