Growing Organic Tomatoes in Panama

Organic Tomatoes Grown in the tropical climate of Panama.
organic panama vegetables

I have personally been responsible for planting over 5000 tropical fruit and hardwood trees in Panama and I have propagated more than 10,000 Vetiver or “Valariana plants. Vetiver is an incredibly versatile plant used world wide. I am not trying to brag, just want to make a point that I have some experience with growing plants in Panama. But, I have never in my life grown a garden vegetable or fruit. Until now.

My first attempt at growing tomatoes here in Panama with out the use of chemical pest controls or fertilizers turned out really well. I planted some Roma variety tomatoes purchased from seed at Melo Lawn and Garden in Chitre. I used Ferry Morse seed packets found all over garden centers in the United States. I had a few people warn me that the tomatoes would not survive with out spraying a lot of chemical bug spray on them. They said the only tomato species that will survive the heat and insects in this area of Panama without chemical intervention are the small cherry tomatoes. Well… Im happy to say that it can be done and I have delicious tomatoes to prove it.

The tomatoes were grown in raised garden beds I built and in five gallon buckets with holes drilled into the bottom. The beds I filled with compost, leaves, cow manure, and ash in the layering, no till, no dig, lasagna gardening technique. When I planted my little seedlings I placed some quality organic soil I had purchased from a local nursery around them. The tomatoes I grew in the buckets were planted in the same locally purchased organic soil.

As the tomatoes grew I used a few different natural techniques to keep the bugs off. One approach was to use lemon grass cuttings as mulch. I read that this is a proven approach to keeping bugs away. I know in my experience with lemon grass, when ever I dig up a full plant for propagation, around the base and roots there is hardly ever any types of bugs. I don’t think insects like lemon grass much at all. Another manner was to make Moringa Tea and water the tomato plants with it. At one point the fruits appeared to have a calcium deficiency. The green tomatoes were rotting at the bottom ends of the fruit with a soft mushy black spot. I read online that this is a signal of low calcium. Moringa has a great amount of calcium in it so I theorized the tea would take care of this problem. To my delight, it did. A few waterings from Moringa tea I made from the leaves and branches cut from our Moringa trees growing in the yard and in a couple of days the black rot was gone.

I am no expert gardener, but I am proud of my organically grown tomatoes. We have been eating fresh Roma tomatoes for weeks now and I just picked another bowl full this morning. Now time to see what else I can grow with out the use of nasty pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. I hope my luck continues because Im enjoying this fresh produce from the back yard.







  1. I can’t wait until i get my garden growing. My goal is to grow peppers and smoke them, like we smoke chorizos. I eventually want to make paprika.

    • I would be curious to how the paprika works out for you. Smoked peppers sounds tasty. Good luck with your garden.

  2. Cassandra says:

    So glad I came across your post, Charlie – congratulations on the tomato success! My family is moving to Panama, near the city, and I’d be so grateful if you can tell me what I need to know about avoiding environmental toxins, like Monsanto’s, in and around Panama. I have very young children and passion for healthy living.

    • Hi Cassandra,
      It’s great your family is moving to Panama. Unfortunately, like most of Latin America, Glyphosate (generic round-up) is used here with mono-culture industrial agriculture production, especially in corn and rice crops. Probably more crops, but these are the ones I have personally witnessed it sprayed on. Panamanians call insecticides and herbicides “medicina” or medicine. My recommendation as to avoiding environmental toxins here in Panama, just pay attention to your environment. If you see a large agricultural operation, they are most likely using industrial chemicals. Also, ask locals about your area, use common sense, investigate and you will learn quickly what to stay away from.
      On a side note. In the part of the interior I call home there are few organic food opportunities, but in Chiriqui, near Boquete and Volcan, I know there are many organic food sources and I imagine near Panama City there are as well. Check out Organica Store in Panama City, they have organic products. We shop there for coconut oil, Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, natural sea salt, vegetable based supplements like MegaFood, organic baby products and more when ever we are in the city. Ask them at the store or maybe get in touch with them on Facebook and see if they know of any organic farmers in the area where you will be living or maybe some that will deliver. If you plan on organic gardening at your property search on the internet and you will find lots of tips from established organic farmers in other tropical regions. I know it helped me. Anyways, thanks for the comment and I hope Panama lives up to your expectations. If you need anything else let me know. Take care