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Selection of the best home garden site is the focus of the second installment in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) “How to Start Your Own Home Garden” series.

Cooperative Extension Service Agent Glenn I. Teves offers tips on selecting a garden site based on Hawaiʻi’s array of soils and climates. The first consideration is access to water, especially in a fairly dry area. The area should also be free from large rocks and tree stumps, with good sun exposure and not be shaded by large trees or structures. Drier areas are usually richer than wetter areas, although more water is needed. Some areas with thin lava soil are the richest areas.

Southern exposure and wind

Green onion garden
Green onion garden

Each side of a house has different wind, sun, temperature and growing hours.

  • The southern side will have the most intense sun, the north and east will be the windiest and the north will be the coolest, with the least amount of sun.
  • The west will have the most wind protection, but may have fewer growing hours due to shading from your house.
  • The southwest is often the best area to locate a garden; good southern exposure takes advantage of the spring sun.

Protection from the wind can be a luxury in Hawaiʻi. But rather than reject a windy site, one could plant a windbreak: sorghum-sudan grass, pearl millet or vetiver grass. Sorghum-sudan is the fastest growing—it can provide a six-foot-high wind barrier only 40 days from seed. When the grasses get too long, just trim them back and cut into mulch.

Visit the CTAHR website for more tips.

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