2017 is in full swing and Spring is right around the corner! You may have noticed the mango trees in bloom and the abundance of baby chickens everywhere. The spring season for us in the tropics means an extra boost in plant growth and a good time to fertilize any fruit trees or perennial plants.
Though we are blessed with year round gardening here on Kaua’i, we can still make the most of the weather by timing our plantings with the seasons, here are 5 tips to get your garden thriving this spring!*
Tip #1: Plant with the weather in mind
While there is still a little chill in the air, dark leafy greens are at their best! Kale, Spinach and Cabbage all do well in our winter/spring season. Cooler temperatures make them sweeter and they’ll be happy in the ground longer than during the summer months. Lettuces and salad greens also love this early spring time before the heat of the summer brings them to bolt.
It’s a great time to start planning for those summer veggies too! I like to put my Tomato starts in the ground right about now so the fruits are ripening with the start of summer.
Cucumbers, Eggplant and Peppers all love a spring start and can even bear fruit through the fall!
Beans and Okra love the summer heat and can stand a bit of drought.
Tip #2: Leaf, root, legume,fruit
When I am planning my spring and summer garden I like to keep crop rotations in mind. Rotating what goes where is the best way to utilize available nutrients and break the cycles of pesky pests and diseases. A wonderful crop rotation mantra is Leaf, root, legume, fruit! Through the course of a year in one bed I might rotate Lettuce (leaves), Carrots (root), Beans (legume) and then Tomatoes (fruit).
If you want to really get crop rotations right it’s best to go by plant families. Tomatoes and peppers are both in the same family, Solanaceae, and have similar nutrient requirements. Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli and Radishes are all in the Brassica family and share many of the same pests.
Beans and peas are legumes and actually restore nitrogen to the soil, adding them into your rotation helps replace some of the nutrients used by other crops. Rotating through plant families is one of the best practices to keep your garden healthy all year long.
Of course if you have a small plot or a container garden there is not always enough space to use crop rotation effectively. If that is the case, it’s a good idea to add compost and fertilizer and turn the soil a little every time you replant.
Tip #3: Don’t forget your companions
If you are gardening in a small space, Companion Planting can be very useful. For example, Basil can improve the flavor of both Lettuce and Tomatoes! While Beans will improve the growth of most other plants they don’t like to be near Alliums such as Garlic, Green Onions or Leeks. Planting aromatic herbs in your garden can really help keep the bugs down as well. My favorites are Lemon Verbena, Basil, Sage, Nasturtium and Marigold.
Companion planting can be a very in depth practice, involving complicated biological interactions. Fortunately, Mother Earth News magazine has created a fantastic Companion Planting Guide that you will love.
Tip #4: Pick up and plant quality starts
Our vibrant, healthy veggie starts from Heaven On Earth Starts are the best bet for ensuring an abundant garden all year long. Robin puts so much love and care into growing high quality starts that you are guaranteed garden success! She also has a bunch of great veggie varieties for spring and summer, keep an eye out for Maui Onion and Sunflower!
Did you miss our interview with her? Check it out here.
Tip #5: Free it up!
Growing your own food can be incredibly rewarding and empowering. In our modern times of fast paced living and political uncertainty, connecting to ourselves and our environments through our food sources is one of the best ways to stay happy, healthy and free!
Gardening is a simple but radical act that not only improves your life but that of your community as well. At Seascapes Nursery our goal is to share our love of growing with our community.
Come visit us to get started on your garden journey today!
*This informative article was written by Seascapes’ very own Zoli Wall