Living by the ocean looking out at the sandy beaches and beautiful waves, it’s hard to think of any downsides to living in an endless summer by the sea. Without noticeable season changes, I usually realize the change in season by updates from family and friends who live in New York– especially my mom who keeps me up-to-date by the status of her vegetable gardens.
After a recent phone call from her about her flourishing tomato plants, I was motivated to begin my own garden! I began gathering all my supplies; soil, gardening tools, a sun hat (mostly because of how cute it was– and on sale!) and seeds. With my sun hat on and garden tools in hand, I began to plot my garden and realized our coastal climate requires some extra effort when beginning a garden. Whether you’re moving to the island or picking up a new hobby, keep in mind the following tips when growing your own vegetable garden by the ocean.
Preparing Your Garden
Raised plant beds are a great way to protect your plants from harsh salt conditions. Fairly easy to construct you can place them directly on your lawn, lanai, etc. or raise them higher as pictured. These beds help to keep the soil free of excess salt that can spray from the ocean. Once you construct or buy your raised bed, fill it with compost or planting soil then continue to plant with your chosen herbs and vegetables. Be sure to water consistently! If you are having problems with pests, try placing mesh or some sort of breathable cover over your plants.
Planting in existing soil can certainly be done with the right precautions. Try to find an area of your space that is most protected from the ocean spray while still capturing plenty of sunlight. Begin by digging down in the soil at least 9 inches and spread compost. This will provide a more nutrient-rich area for your plants to grow and will have a much lower salt level.
Once your area is prepared, begin watering with fresh water for at least a week. This will help flush out existing salt giving your plants plenty of nourishing soil to lay their roots in.
Choose salt tolerant plants when planting your garden to maximize the growing potential! The following vegetables have very high salt tolerance levels:
The following vegetables have moderate salt tolerance levels and can grow well if cared for:
Once planted, remember to water consistently with fresh water and keep in direct sunlight. Spraying the plants with a light mist will also help in rinsing off excess salt.
Oahu is such a magical island to live on with an endless list of activities and beautiful sites. We are so fortunate to call it home and having the ability to garden year round is an added bonus! Whether you’re new to the island and bringing your passion for gardening with you, or, just trying something new – Pomaika’i (good luck in Hawaiian!).