With the highest produce prices of any state in the U.S., growing vegetables in Hawaii simply makes sense. Yet, cultivating crops in a tropical paradise is not as easy as one might guess. Poor soil, lack of four seasons, and year-round mild weather leads to an abundance of Hawaiian vegetable garden issues. Let’s take a look at tactics to solve these problems and ways to make growing Hawaiian vegetables a successful endeavor.
Hawaii Vegetable Growing Problems
Without the aid of cold winter temperatures to control pest populations, these critters are obstacles gardeners must face when growing vegetables in Hawaii. Nematodes, fruit flies, pepper weevils, and slugs flourish year-round.
Likewise, some microclimates on the islands experience as much as 200 inches (508 cm.) of rain per year, creating ideal conditions for fungal diseases and root rot.
Additionally, soil erosion from high winds and heavy rain is common in some areas. Salt spray can be transported inland, making native soil too saline for many vegetable crops. Volcanic rock litters the ground in other locales. All of these issues make this tropical paradise less than ideal for growing Hawaiian vegetables.
So how do gardeners overcome Hawaii vegetable growing issues? These creative solutions have helped:
- Container gardening – Mini-gardens planted in storage totes provides an erosion-proof growing medium and helps control soil-borne pests and disease.
- Greenhouse gardening – Smaller backyard versions of commercial greenhouses can protect plants from windburn while establishing a barrier against flying pests.
- Raised beds and compost – Elevated beds improve drainage, while organic soil amendment gives the Hawaiian vegetable garden the nutrients plants need.
- Windbreak – Erect a fence or plant a hedge to protect delicate vegetables in Hawaii from damaging winds.
- Floating row covers – These inexpensive net coverings provide the same type of protection as larger greenhouses but can be easily removed for pollination by beneficial insects.
Growing Hawaiian Vegetables
Matching vegetables to the climate is a key element for any gardener. Tropical climates make growing cool-season vegetables in Hawaii difficult at best. Gardeners are encouraged to focus on those species and varieties which will flourish in year-round warmth offered by Hawaiian weather:
- Cherry tomato
- Chinese cabbage
- Green bell pepper
- Green onions
- Hawaiian chili pepper
- Kabocha pumpkin
- Kula onions
- Purple sweet potato
- Summer squash – long neck, crookneck, scallop, cocozelle, zucchini
- Swiss chard