Gardening in Hawaii: 5 Reasons Why You Need an Organic Garden
This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who specializes in housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.
Many people have considered growing more food on their own, though they never get around to doing it. This may be because they do not know how or where to start. Lack of knowledge and experience is not the only obstacle to homegrown food in Hawaii. Busy schedules, pricey agriculture land, poorly drained soil, and a lack of nutrient rich soil also make farming in Hawaii challenging. However, there are a few reasons that make gardening a worthwhile endeavor:
- Taste and nutrition – You can always be certain of the freshness of homegrown foods, which implies that they are the tastiest and most nutritious that you can get. In addition, studies suggest that the longer produce stays in a grocery store the lower its nutritional value. As such, you can enjoy the flavor of freshly picked vegetables and fruits for a healthy lifestyle.
- Food self-reliance – With food crops in your garden, you have better control over the food you have. This is critical since 85% of the food in the Hawaiian Islands is imported from far off locations, and the fresh food in stores never last long before it is rotten. Moreover, there are many ecological, economic and health issues that may slow down or obstruct food importation.
- Cultural integrity – The focus of large commercial growers on few crop varieties that are ideal for large-scale production, as well as long-distance distribution has reduced the diversity of produce available in stores. This has, in turn, diminished the cultural connections to local dishes and foods. Since food is a vital component of cultural expression, you have the option to grow crops and varieties that provide a means to reconnect with old social identities.
- Household economy – A personal home garden can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on food. Some gardeners are able to produce seasonal surpluses that can be shared with neighbors or sold. This way, your garden increases your savings, generates income, and provides fresh produce to your family and community.
- Reduce Carbon footprint – Hawaii depends heavily on imported foods that travel for long distances, from processors to distributors, before reaching the island. Some of this food is purchased from the United States and some as far as China. In addition, locals drive long distances to reach stores where these foods are available. The result is a lot of carbon emissions from all that transportation, which destroys the planet. By growing food locally in your home garden, you can reduce the fuel burnt in transportation, production processes, and refrigeration. You get to save energy by converting unproductive land that comprises unused lawns and aesthetic landscapes into gardens for fruits and vegetables production.
With a little gardening knowledge, you can convert any unused piece of land in your home to a productive garden. Considering that Hawaii has a mild tropical climate, you can grow a variety of foods from both tropical or temperate climates including eggplant, herbs, chile peppers (especially the Hawaiian chile pepper), beets, carrots, turnips, fennel, okra, Asian greens (such as bok choy or tatsoi) mustard greens, kale, collard greens, cherry tomatoes, dandelion greens, ginger, turmeric, sweet potatoes, edible flowers, lemongrass (which is a great windbreak) and scallions. If you have loads of room, you can grow cultural foods such as taro or breadfruit. You can enhance the fertility of your garden using compost manure.