Hi, hey, ya'll inspired me and turned my life upside down! I moved to the Philippines (tropical, rainy) and aquired two and a half acres (1hectare 🤷🏻♀️) and started!
I'll start with the question and then describe. I feel like I have big love for trees and a lot of appreciation for groundcover and very little creativity for the other 5 layers. I think if I just push through and don't take a step back we're going to have a hectare of sweet potatoes under a beautiful canopy of giant and medium trees. (I can think of worse horror stories, I know 😁) I need some inspiration for the shorter plants.
Exceptions to my mono-cropped food forest nightmare:
- taro (aka Gabi, elephant ears, and Philippine potatoes) I have about 10 areas with a little. ❤️
- ginger (1 small patch)
- turmeric (I can only think of 1 plant thriving atm)
- a very nice bunch of cane sugar
- a large leaves oregano, a super food for colds and skin (two tiny plants atm)
- technically bananas, though they feel like trees to me
Now, people seriously say onions and garlic... These are known by the mono-crop community around here to be whiny babies. I need tough 💪 fighters.
I'm not sure what I need. I just only like trees. And I have SOOOO many gorgeous lovely trees! All taller than me now. Some more than 20 ft. Can anyone help me cultivate a bit of excitement over the sun and shade loving shorties that make food forestry truly abundant?
Not sure I can help you with the enthusiasm, but onions and garlic in my experience like cold and little water. They might do OK if you have a high, dry area, but too much water and they just rot. Might not work too well in the Phillipines. Maybe try planting from seed for local adaptation? The farmers are probably using imported starts, which won't be adapted. Are you in zone 9, or 10? If you're just looking for ideas on what to grow, check out this link.
Wow, what an adventure!!
So, what are people around you planting? You figure they will have things that can handle the humidity and the resulting disease, right.
I am in a warm place but.... dry, so probably my suggestions might not work. I plant to eat, so I'm thinking about greens- even in crazy heat and wet you can get good foliage from your sweet potatoes, but also from chayote/sayote (in your environment it might get bushy after repeated prunings), both of which should be easy to find local adapted cultivars.
I would also go with whatever allium people use- whether that is scallions or garlic chives or whatever.
What kind of nightshades do well there? Wee eggplants? Peppers? Looks like you still have good sun for the time being.
I guess ultimately it comes down to what you can use and what you like to see every day. No point planting things you wouldn't want to eat!
Trees are great fun, I look forward to seeing more about yours. I'm in the opposite boat, I've been "low gardening" and my trees are taking their sweet time. I have a few papayas, but they grow so fast they don't really count. The others (guava, mulberries, citrus) are still so small that I tend to forget about them unless they're producing fruit for me at the moment.
Congratulations on starting the journey. My only tropical experience is in Samoa at the University of the South Pacific Agricultural Campus in Alafua, and a month Fiji at my USP roommates' family farmstead (he was the son of the high chief of NW Fiji, so this was pretty extensive). I've never been to the Philippines so take that into consideration.
Wild onions were a staple in Samoan food, with it being integral to the wonderful coconut cream-wild onion dish used as an almost ubiquitous condiment with taro, breadfruit, fish etc. Root crops other than Taro did seem to have trouble in much of Samoa due to compacted clay soils from heavy rains stripping topsoil and pounding it into brick when it was exposed following deforestation. In Fiji, sweet potatoes were grown in mulch mounds, likely to get above a similar hardpan.
The Peace Corp and UN Ag folks were pushing the proliferation of nitrogen fixators like pigeon pea, peanuts, etc, and the starts/seeds of these that I brought to a host family for a month-long research project took off quickly with no help from me.
The rainforest chilis growing all over both Samoa and Fiji must not be native as these plants came from the Americas originally, but are the best hot peppers I've ever had. Just chilis, onion, and salt in water made a great dipping sauce with roti, taro or "curry in a hurry" (taking only 3-4hrs!) that my Fijian neighbors would make on long leisurely Saturdays. I miss those guys and that was some of the best food I've ever had, but I do not miss the Samoan heat and humidity!
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
I don't know what your typical high/low temps are there, but here are some things I can think of...
From my understanding, cannas are edible (if you have the correct variety/cultivar), and grow in similar conditions as taro. My elephant ears/taro and cannas (mostly ornamental/biomass) grow together with no issues. In my subtropical climate, wild onions and garlic can often be found near stream beds, and my cluster onions & garlic chives seem to do well in moist areas. Dwarf tamarillo (aka tomato tree) stays more like a shrub than an actual tree.
Their achilles heel is the noogie! Give them noogies tiny ad!