Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Container Gardening, Hawai'i Style

I'm not like most people in Hawai'i. Most residents live near the coast. I live at 3,500 feet elevation on the island of Hawai'i, atop an active volcano, Kilauea. While the rest of the lowlanders are sweltering around the state, I'm experimenting with mainland-style, cool-weather spring/fall herbs and veggies. Here the volcanic plume of sulphur emissions from Halema'uma'u crater, the home of Hawaiian goddess Pele, creates constant acid rain, which presents a challenge for gardeners in the Volcano area. In winter the rain is heavy, which is another problem for residents trying to grow edible gardens. To protect their bounty from acid rain and vog damage, many here resort to greenhouses and container gardening.

Though I haven't yet constructed a greenhouse, at the moment I'm keeping quite a few plants on a protected area on my lanai.

Here's what’s growing on my lanai:

Red shiso (Perilla)
Mexican tarragon
Sweet marjoram
Upright rosemary
Greek oregano
'Windowbox Mini Basil' (Renee’s)
Thai basil
'Patio' tomato
Aloe vera
Scallions, 'Delicious Duo' (Renee’s)

Just seeded:
Horenso (spinach )
Komatsuna (Brassica rapa, Seeds of Change)
Collards ('Green Glaze', Southen Exposure seed)
Oregon Snow Pea (Seeds Of Change)

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ann Sly said...

Hi Janice, Thank you for a peak into gardening in the Volcano area. We are considering purchasing up there and want to learn more.

Janice said...

Aloha, Ann:
If you plan to purchase in this area, I suggest having an extended stay here first and get to know the climate and community. It is very different from most places in Hawaii. Unless you like gardening with native plants and cool wet weather, you might be happier down on the lowlands where you can grow exotic tropical flowers, fruit, etc. and be near the ocean.

Anyone living in Volcano would be wise to follow the brochure "Building in the Forest." You can get it here:

Brad@Container Gardening said...

I'm so glad I ran across this blog. What an interesting topic. I do container gardening,.....but wow....not under those conditions.

Good Luck and thanks for writing!

Kristi-Lee said...

I live on the island of Oahu. I don't have a yard, but I rent a home with a very large, private patio. I should also note that I have not done so well keeping plants alive since I have moved here to Hawaii. Do you have any advice on the easiest plants to start out with for a container garden in my climate?

Janice said...

Hi Kristi-Lee: You didn't mention what you'd like to grow, ornamentals or edibles, and which side of the island you live on. I could write a whole book on container gardening in Hawaii; in fact, I have! And it's available in public libraries and all bookstores throughout the state. Having said that, I suggest you look around your area to see what other people are growing to get a sense of what grows well in your area.