If you are a long time reader by now you know that I am a strong supporter of planting edible gardens instead of just a ‘pretty garden with a lawn’. You can plant an edible garden and still have a beautiful yard by planting trees and bushes that bear food instead of just sitting there looking pretty.
Growing edibles in your garden can be not only fun, but in these days of high food cost it can supplement your market purchases and keep a few extra dollars in your pocket.
Look around your yard...you probably already grow a few edibles.
Be it fruits, veggies or herbs, there is deep satisfaction in planting, growing, harvesting and cooking the fruits of our labors.
It doesn’t take a lot of room to plant a kitchen or edible garden. In fact, you can even plant some edibles in pots or any little strip of dirt around your lanai or near the kitchen door. In France, where they are quite popular, these type gardens are called “potagers”; just a place where a few snips of this or a couple of fruits of that can be transformed into a satisfying meal.
Simple things to grow are cherry tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and little red Hawaiian chili peppers; okra, spinach, wing beans, Japanese eggplants, and even a few nasturtiums for color and taste (yes, you can eat both the bloom and leaves of these beautiful little flowers).
Cherry tomatoes and the nasturtiums can also grow in hanging baskets, which are also convenient to hang from the eaves of your house near the kitchen door, thus saving space in the yard or lanai.
Here in Hawaii, we are blessed with great year round growing conditions for most herbs and vegetables and there are lots of fruit available almost everywhere, so using our gardens to supplement our food shopping is more fun than work.
For many years I’ve been fascinated with the stories about the Victory Gardens that were popular during the World Wars and where we live, we are trying to have something of an edible nature growing at all times. We have a long ways to go for what I envision, but we made a start a few years ago. Here is a link to see a collection of fascinating Victory Garden posters.
Since a family of wild pigs found a way to come up the gulch and destroyed our earlier garden last year, we had been hesitant to use the same place again and were planting things in the bed behind the cabin that sits in front of our house. This bed was getting pretty full and things didn't have room to grow, so we decided to start planting again in the old garden site, which is larger and the only area in this property that is ‘almost flat’.
We hope the pigs don’t decide this is an open invitation to come dine at our expense again.
It will not be as 'pretty' as our earlier garden, but we're still following the 'recycling' rules we set up when we were doing our first one and using things that we just don't want to send to the dump (see earlier blog posts about our original garden below)
We have two metal table frames (wood tops burned when we had the fire almost 10 years ago). The legs on these metal table frames are tall enough that some sun reaches underneath the tables at certain times of the day, even with growing trays set on top.
We also have some shallow (about 5-6 inches deep) metal wire baskets that were part of a display unit in our Inn gift shop that fit inside the top of the smaller table frame. We used some screening to line the wire baskets, filled with dirt and compost and turned them into growing trays. I don't think slugs will be climbing the legs - hope not anyway.
The table frames make fantastic raised beds when you place the metal basket–growing trays on them.
So far we have planted mixed greens and strawberries in the growing baskets and the legs are wonderful as trellises, so we decided to use the larger table frame as trellises for tomatoes and chayote and underneath the smaller table we planted the Okinawan spinach, which can grow in partial shade.
We bought a paper shredder and have been shredding newspapers which we're using as mulch.
So far we've planted some heirloom tomatoes, tomatillo, purple basil, stick oregano and arugula in that area. I will leave the large stick oregano and the Cuban oregano where they are currently as they have really established themselves very well there.
Sage, thyme and Mexican tarragon are planted in pots which we can move around as needed.
We have some dill, pepper plants, Japanese eggplants, fennel and another variety of tomatoes which we will be planting in a day or two and will also redo an old bed with a section of dog fencing on which to grow peas and beans.
We still have 4 rosemary plants in the old garden area left after the pig attack and a small bay leaf (laurel) that doesn't seem to want to do much.
A friend introduced me to a tree that is almost all edible - roots can be used as a substitute for horseradish; leaves, flowers and bean/seed pods are edible and the dried seeds are also used to purify water in countries where the water is not clean.
Many Hawaii residents of Filipino descent know and make use of this tree already. It is called Moringa oleifera. Our friend gave us several branches which we just stuck deeply in the ground as instructed. They will supposedly root.
We shall see if all this survives!