From what I hear when I’m out an about in the community, everyone would like to be growing something. Each person’s circumstances are different based on time, space and if you are renting or owning (long time stewardship).
Below are some simple ‘must do’s to help our aspiring gardening community grow your own and eat what you sow:
For all growers: Soil Fertility is what feeds the plants that feed you. Farmers Union is working legislation through Hawaii Sate Legislature to develop regional nutrient recycling centers (imagine West Side, South Side, Central, Upcountry and Hana Nutrient Recycling Centers…it’s a dream that will become a reality when enough of us share the dream) Until then and until you learn to make your own compost…purchasing compost and soil mix at a local supplier is necessary.
Fertile soil: mix one bag of compost into every 3 bags of potting mix.
Let’s start small, which leads to success and succession based on the passion and enjoyment each persons finds along the way.
Small Space Garden: A patio or nook that condo gardening offers can be great for container gardening, which works best for utilizing what space is available. 5 gallon pots or larger (about 18” deep) will work. Boxes along balcony railings are another option.
Renter’s Garden: The renters dilemma is the danger of loosing the investment used to build soil. I suggest investing in some boards (not treated wood) that are connected in rectangles to contain the soil (4’ wide sections are ideal). If moving becomes a necessity, the fertile soil built over time can be bagged, the boards disassembled and a new garden created at a new location.
Homeowner (long term land steward): Pick a place that has full sun… an area 16’ x 10’ feet will allow three 4’ wide beds with 18” paths on either side of the center bed. This size equals 10’ x 4’ = 40 sq ft x 3 beds or 120 sq ft of growing area.
If you have a slope, orient your beds across the hill for best water use. Digging the beds is an investment. Google: double digging to get instructions for digging your beds. Green material (comfrey leaf or any green leafy material that does not have seed heads) can be added to the bottom of double dug beds. Add compost during double digging process.
Note: Watering the land prior to digging makes digging much easier… hiring someone to dig is another option;)
Planting and tending:
Direct seeding instructions will be online or on the seed packets.
When beds are planted and plants begin to pop up, it’s time to mulch the beds. Mulch blocks sunlight (sunscreen) which allows moisture retention and microbial life to develop in the soil. Double dug beds retain water and offer a deep area for root development. Over watering interferes with root development…adjust your watering schedule during times of rain… to check soil for moisture, use your fingers to check 1” below surface.
Root crops, such as beets, carrots, turnip are great fall crops; ideal for the comfort food recipes of late fall/winter. In the hotter areas of Maui, the winter sun is more gentle and will work well for lettuces and arugula.
Pole beans are a nice addition to a veggie garden. Be sure to plant anything that will grow tall on the north side of your garden…that allows late morning and all afternoon full sun for shorter veggie crops.
Below is a great recipe you can make with all your newly harvested vegetables:
Comfort Food Potpourri -serves 4
3 Sweet potatoes
4 Potatoes (potatoes can be substituted for taro.)
1 sprig of Rosemary
Directions: Steam root veggies to desired texture, slice and place on top of mashed potato/taro. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and cover with gravy.
Look out, I’m getting hungry just thinking about this dinner…
Image Credit: Lychee Therapeutics