The wet season of 2021 was our first wet season at home, in the tropics for 9 years. As such, it was hugely interesting to see exactly which food plants would survive the low light, intense heat, humidity, and torrential rain of the tropical summer. Not just survive, I wanted to see which vegetables, herbs, and fruits would feed my family through January, February, and March, thrive, and do well. I’m not one to follow standard advice, I have to see and test for myself, my background in biological science makes me curious. These are our findings. What could we grow, and eat, through the tropical wet season, or summer months, now tested through 2 wet seasons.
I’m writing this post in January. The wet season is likely to get worse before it gets better. This post is intended to be running notes and over time, maybe years, will form a thorough guide to foods that survive and produce in the wet season.
Garden Plants Providing Food in The Wet Season
The following plants are providing us with food through the wet summer months. More detail further down the page.
- Beans, see varieties below
- Peppers. Chilli peppers and sweet peppers, every type of pepper have done well through summer wet season and monsoon rains. Fruit flies can be a problem.
- Pumpkins. The pumpkins grew like crazy during the wet season and there were abundant pumpkins.
- Kale was OK at the start of the wet, but by the end most of it was rotted or eaten by bugs.
- Aubergines (eggplants). Every variety of eggplant can produce well through the wet.
- Herbs. None of my herbs have died due to wet season conditions, which honestly, is a surprise. Some are flourishing.
- Asian Greens, Water spinach is looking super happy.
- Tomatoes. I’m determined to grow wet season tomatoes. Some are in open beds, taking the full brunt of the weather, others I’m babying along, more below.
- Fruit. We have picked lemons, jackfruit, passionfruit, papayas and pineapples during the wet. The grapefruit tree is covered in unripe fruit and survives the monsoon just fine.
- Coconuts, the coconut trees were laden with ripe coconuts and they were falling through the summer months.
I’ll also talk below about garden food crops which stopped producing, or died back during the wet season.
Seeds You Can Sew in The Wet Season
If you start looking at online seed companies, and dive into the sewing instructions, you’ll find that many fruits and vegetables can be sewn year round in tropical climates.
Towards the end of the wet season, going into autumn, is a great time to sew cool weather plants like brassicas.
Plants That Died During The Wet
My curly kale and broccoli plants hated being soaked. The black kale lasted longer, but by the end of the wet it was sick and useless. Likewise, radishes, over-blown and left to go to seed, rotted in the ground.
Crops such as most brassicas and snow peas are winter crops, they’ll most likely be very unhappy in wet tropical summer heat.
The Best Beans in The Wet Season
For me, the dwarf red snake beans win hands-down over regular snake beans. The long, green snake beans became over-grown, their trellis fell down because the ground was waterlogged, and they only produced intermittently.
Admittedly, one bean is enough for a serving of beans, but we didn’t have as many as we did dwarf red beans.
The French beans and purple podded beans didn’t make it through the wet.
I have dwarf red beans in pots and in open garden beds, both have done well. The trick is to harvest every day when they are absolutely perfect for eating. You can store them, cut end down, in a glass of water in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
If you do miss one it will quickly, within a day or so, become over-blown and not good to eat. Leave it to go to seed and push those seeds back into the ground. You will have a never-ending supply of beans.
I don’t think we’ve ever had a month without beans doing it this way. If a plant dies, and it will just cut it off at ground level. Leave those roots in the soil to rot and enrich the soil with nitrogen. I throw some worm juice or manure at them now and again if they look like they need a boost.
Cucumbers in the Wet Season
I’ve found cucumbers difficult to grow at most times of year other that late winter/early spring. I’ve managed to keep cucumber plants alive through the wet season, they’ve produced very few flowers, no female flowers. So cucumbers for me are a wet season fail, along with zucchini, squash and everything else in this family except pumpkins.
Tomatoes in the Wet Season
I’ve managed to grow tomatoes in the wet, very few and they didn’t look good. The Roma tomatoes in the photo above were picked right in the middle of the tropical summer. They didn’t taste great and they weren’t pretty. We managed to get a few cherry tomatoes too, but again, they weren’t great.
I kept these tomatoes, chopped, in the freezer to use for making tomato sauce.
Once the worst of the wet was over they came back to normal production, the same sort of levels of fruit that we saw in spring, before it got too hot and dry. Our tomato plants all survived the tropical summer and were relatively pest and disease-free. Some grew prolific new green growth during the wet.
I did a lot of pruning, cutting back and starting new plants from cuttings, under cover, The wet season seems to be a great time for leafy growth, but not fruiting vegetables, other than peppers and aubergines (egg plants). You have to keep a close eye out for fruit fly and keep enriching and fertilizing the soil. Torrential rain leaches out nutrients fast.
If your tomatoes are hit by fruit fly, be sure to put the damaged fruit in the bin, this breaks the life cycle as the larvae will be inside the tomato. They normally emerge once the fruit rots or falls.
Shield bugs will bite your tomatoes too. Netting them with plastic bags doesn’t help much as they can bite through the plastic mesh if it touches the tomato. Sticky fly traps indiscriminately kill wildlife, including small frogs and geckos, so they’re not a good idea either.
Look out for blossom end rot in tomatoes, add calcium to the soil at the first signs.
Wet Season Gardening Wrap-Up
As with all content on this website, I update posts as I discover more. These are my gardening notes and findings on this, my 8th website. I’m a professional blogger in another field. I’ll be back with more on wet season gardening soon.