Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Secret Garden Edibles

"K" recently read about my secret garden project and decried the waste of time and effort on something that was not producing food. He felt that this project had no place in a working homestead farm. Not actually criticizing your opinion "K", but that's not my point of view on this garden project.

Ok, I'll explain. While I can see the sense in focusing upon food and livelihood, especially in the beginning of creating a homestead and especially if food is critical, there came a time for me that I was ready to tend to my mental health too. And this project does that. While I can grow food in this garden, I can also grow flowers, dream of and create whimsical garden art, make meandering walking paths and serene sitting spots, make small fish ponds. I can have fun....plain, simple fun. It's food production for the soul. 

"K", it may make you feel better to know that I have indeed incorporated food plants into the Secret Garden:

Above- Mexican oregano. It grows best in full to semi-shade, perfect for this garden. 

Above- freshly planted Okinawan spinach cuttings. I planted them in a semi-shaded area. I'm not sure how they will do, but we shall see. 

Above: sweet potatoes in with ornamentals. The blue tub is a half barrel that is being made into a micro fishpond. It's not finished yet. In the background you can see part of the secret garden where I have cleared out the ferns, made some rock enclosures for gardens, and spread forest litter between the trees. Eventually all that bare area will be growing plants, mostly edible ones for the livestock. 

Above, more sweet potato cuttings that I'm planting today inside a semi circle of rocks. As the various little gardens expand in size, those rocks can be moved out further or even completely removed, opening more space for plants. 

There are already bananas, pineapples, sugar cane, numerous patches of sweet potatoes, pumpkin vines, turmeric, and taro. As I open up and create more beds, I plan on some colorful veggies like Swiss chard, beets, lettuces. And some more contrasting textures, like gingers, millet, wheat, cardoon, green onions, kales. The sunny areas are limited, so there won't be lots sun crops. There will be far more semi shade tolerant things growing. 

It's always a joy for me to spend an hour in the secret garden. It's my personal playground where I can dream and create without having to be serious. 

While I haven't done it yet, I plan to add food trees to this area. Yes, there are bananas already. But I was thinking along the lines of citrus, mulberry, and mamaki since they are semi shade tolerant. And of course, there is always the option of coffee, a good for even full shade. 

My aim is to have 90% of the plants be some sort of edible. As I've mentioned, they will be mostly for feeding the livestock. This area previously was covered in ferns and offered zero in the way of livestock food. Thus making it into a garden actually increases the food inventory on my farm. 


  1. Our yard is not as large as your homestead / property, and we do have a big problem with wild pigs getting in here and destroying large areas of it, but I do incorporate edibles into my foundation planting along the front lanai (bananas, papayas, purple Hawaiian sugar cane) and lots of other stuff along the other beds. Along with crotons, ti, blue ginger and other ornamentals I have planted rosemary, basil, tomatoes, Hawaiian chile peppers and other stuff and scattered wild flower seeds around...No reason why we can't have beautiful plants as well as practical ones around us... Carry on, Su Ba...You inspire me!

  2. Beauty and practical, side by side. Sounds ok to me!