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Gardening in the Tropics

Gardening in the Tropics

Posted by Hana Tropicals on 12th Aug 2020

Gardening here in Hana, Maui is difficult do to the volcanic soil we stand on top of, but incredibly rewarding. 

Every week the whole Hana Tropicals' crew takes a break from flowers to work on the incredible gardens that have been built up and maintained over the years. Wednesday is currently our garden day, and at the time of writing this blog post, we are blessed with the following delicious food in our gardens:

-gynura spinach

-collard greens

-ketuk

-wide variety of fresh herbs (cilantro, lemon grass, lemon balm, chives, mint, oregano, basil, rosemary)

-pineapple

-pumpkins

-loofa

-eggplant

-papalo cilantro

-chayote squash

-three kinds of sweet peppers

-okra

-habanero peppers

-chocolate habanero peppers

-Hawaiian chili peppers

-cherry tomatoes

How do we grow things so well here when it's so incredibly hot, humid, and our soil is slightly acidic and filled with volcanic rock? Patience, patience, and more patience, and lots of water. 

Although we live in the rainforest, there are days when it does not rain at all, and the sun is beating down hot. Especially now, in the dry summer season. These days we pull out the hose and water all of our beds thoroughly. Especially immediately after new seeds are planted or new plants are propagated, water is the key to their success. So. Much. Water. 

The next tip is patience! This is required to have proper soil for our garden beds. For each garden bed, we focus for weeks on having the most nutrient dense soil possible. Our favorite ways to do this are: spread goat manure, our compost, chopped up banana leaves and stalks (potassium!), and mixing it all up really well. We often use banana trunks to separate our beds, because these trunks break down over time and provide incredible potassium and other nutrients that spread into the soil. Once the soil is adequately prepared, we then wait another week before planting our seeds/crops. 

It's also important to give your beds a rest from time to time. Since we are fortunate enough to have weather that allows us to garden year round, it's important to give our beds a rest after they have had a few rounds of different crops. We do this by either using a cover crop on a specific bed for a season, or by simply letting the garden bed be for a few months. This allows the soil to regenerate since it is not focusing on giving its nutrients to the plants it's growing. 

Our last picture featured in this blog post is of our newest compost pile. Compost is KEY for a happy healthy garden, not to mention the most beautiful example of the circle of life. We grow food, consume it, put the scraps in the ground, and grow new food with it! We mix our food scraps (anything uncooked) with egg shells, coffee grounds, leaves, sometimes plain cardboard or used newspaper shred. It's important that we keep our compost very HOT (even hotter than Hawai'i in August!) so that the components get to the temperature needed to break down. 

Send us an email at hello@hanatropicals.com if you have any gardening questions, suggestions, or inquiries for your hot, humid climate. If you live in a place with four seasons, building a proper greenhouse can yield incredible results for the colder winter months! Mahalo for reading.