Some of the most perishable types of produce are herbs and edible flowers, so getting them fresh means frequent trips to the grocery store. With stay-at-home orders, why not grow your own?
Growing an herb and edible flower garden at home is rewarding in many ways. It requires little effort and inputs. The sense of accomplishment I get from picking my own fresh herbs from my 2-foot by 5-foot herb garden bed is well worth the hour per week of attention I put into maintaining the plants.
Herb and edible flower gardens come in many shapes and sizes. Creating a containerized garden is as easy as finding an appropriate pot, some soil, and a water source.
Plastic planters designed for planting are best, but almost any container can be used. Make sure it wasn’t treated with chemicals to prevent decay and isn’t made of leachable chemicals that are bad for plants and people.
Containers must drain easily and not allow standing water. They must be large enough to allow the herbs’ roots to grow for long periods of time. The larger the container, the longer the plant can grow without becoming root bound, and ultimately, the less often you will have to water.
I don’t recommend using soil from an existing garden or landscape. These soils often don’t have good characteristics, such as drainage, for containers. For best results, I either use potting soil or mix garden soil with potting soil or cinder.
The fastest way to start an herb and edible flower garden at home is to purchase starter plants from your local nursery. Herbs can be grown from seed, but they usually require about three extra weeks before harvest, compared to starter plants.
What herbs and edible flowers are easiest to grow in Hawai‘i?
My favorites include cilantro, green onions, mints, and Hawaiian chili peppers. If you like basil, Thai basil is an excellent choice because it grows well in tropical climates compared to the more common European basils. The same is true for Hawaiian chili peppers compared to other pepper varieties.
Edible flowers are a beautiful and tasty option for companion planting in herb gardens. Nasturtium is an edible flower that’s easy to grow in just about any home garden. It can produce over 70 flowers a week—food for the stomach and soul! Marigolds are another edible flower, and they can repel nematodes and other insect pests.
So if you’ve got some time on your hands and are stuck at home, here’s something new you can try: plant an herb and edible flower garden!
Russell Galanti, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources