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Tammy’s Tips for Tropical Home Gardens

First of all, I encourage you try these proven agricultural blessings from the Hawaiian Nation!

Many cuttings may be shared by communicating (at a safe distance) with your neighbors and friends!

Photo by Lucas Allmann

How Much Should I plant In My Veggie Garden?

This is a great question! It’s typically determined by the number of people you want to feed, the types of vegatables you eat, and how much space you have to plant. You can find a more in depth discussion here from Marie Ionotti on The Spruce or contact me, Tammy (541)510-9658, for specific guidance, local to Kaua’i.

What Grows Best on Kaua’i?

For tropical folks, I would start with the easy, fast-growing vegetables. Many varieties that we love don’t do so well here due to the high humidity, hot sun, and fruit flies. Fortunately, there are so many great alternatives that thrive on Kaua’i and throughout the islands.

Plant TheseSkipConsiderations
Cherry tomatoesAll other tomatoesFruit flies & high humidity. Water deep to encourage a long tap root. Avoid watering the leaves.
Small sweet or hot peppersBig bell peppersFruit fly stings and rot make small varieties preferable.
Japanese/Asian style cucumbersMainland style cucumbersLook for thicker skinned varieties.
ChayoteYellow summer squashChayote is an excellent low maintenance crop that will take off along a fence.
Lettuce, Cilantro Plant in shadier areas as they will bolt and get bitter in the hot sun.
Green Onions, ChivesRed, Yellow, or Spanish Onions
Kale, Chard, CollardsFast growing, plant in successions spaced out a few weeks.
Okra, Eggplant
Broccoli, CauliflowerPlan for a lot of space and fertilizer. They need lots of feeding to do well.
Beets, CarrotsSoil should be fine, sifted, or deeply loosened. Avoid lumpy clay.
Taro, Sweet Potatoes, CassavaLong term tubers need a fenced area to keep wild pigs out.
Kabocha PumpkinPlant in pile of well drained soil. Allow to sprawl where it doesn’t take up good garden space with greenery. Only the root zone needs the soil.
Chaya, KutukEdible tree spinach (Chaya). Both can grow from cuttings. Few extra precautions to harvest.

Other Notable Considerations

  • Plant fast growing plants like radishes, cilantro, lettuce, tatsoi, snuggled up closer to longer term plants and so they can be harvested before the longer term ones get too big.
  • In the tropics some annuals can become perennial plants like lima beans, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers and we also have perennials like Tahitian Taro (grown for greens not tubers), Tongan Spinach or Bele, Sissoo Spinach, Okinawan Spinach, New Zealand Spinach, and other ground cover spinaches, ethiopian kale, wing beans, yard-long beans.
  • Skip corn for now.

Got More Questions? Contact Me For Help!

Love to help you get going with locating cuttings, nursery starts, garden plans, spacing, design, soil tests, etc. You can contact me at [email protected] or call me in Wailua, Kauai at (541) 510-9658. Leave a message and I will call you back.”

-Tammy Davis, Permaculture Garden Designer and Sustainable Systems Advisor, open to consulting for payment or trade.

Where To Get Good Garden Ingredients?

Soil Tests

A & L Western Laboratories – Soil Testing Lab

Testing Your Soil: Why and How to Take a Soil-Test Sample

Veggie Starts

Heaven on Earth Starts Here – Robin, Fridays 4pm-6pm Anaina Hou/Mini Golf Kilauea, Hoku Foods stand

Kaapuni Nursery – 5776 Kaapuni Road, Kapahi, Tues-Sat, 11-5pm, Cell / Office (808) 645-6303

Ancient Spin Veggie and Perennial Starts and Cuttings– Contact Tammy (541) 510-9658

New addition! Garden Ponds Nursery in Kilauea next to Mini golf and behind Banana Joes. Open Wed-Sun 12 -5pm (808) 828-6400


Photo by Lisa Fotios

Home Depot – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation

Ace Hardware – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation

Garden Island Hydro – potting soil, fertilizers, pots, seeds, irrigation

Kauai Paint and Feed – Hendrikus Fertilizer

Kauai Irrigation– Irrigation systems

Heart & Soul Organics – Compost, soil $50/1 cu. yard

6020 Ko’olau Rd. in Moloa’a. Behind fruit stand. Call (808) 823-1007 

  • (large pick up truck bed full) DO not go when raining or just after big rain, too wet and heavy!)
  • Bring a tarp, they will load for you.

Kauai Nursery and Landscaping – located at 3-1550 Kaumuali’i Hwy. in Lihue. Call (808) 245-7747 Hours: M-F 7:30-5:00 / Sat 7:30-4:00

G.E.M (Green Earth Matters, Inc). – Sifted compost by truckload $50/1 cu. yard (large pick up truck full) DO not go when raining or just after big rain, too wet and heavy!  Bring a tarp, they will load for you.

6020 Ko’olau Rd. in Moloa’a. Moloa’a behind fruit stand to the right! 

Seascapes Nursery – 5101, 4741 Kahiliholo Rd # A, Kilauea, HI 96754,  (808) 828-0444, 

Hours: Monday – Friday: 8am – 4pm, Saturday: 9am – 2pm


Photo by Alturas Homes

Kitizawa Seeds
Asian vegetable seeds from America’s oldest Asian vegetables seeds company

Hawaiian Seed Growers Network

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Organic and Heirloom Seeds

Territorial Seeds

Johnny’s Seeds

Other Reference Material

How to grow more vegetables.

– Book and online resources by John Jeavons

Farming for the Long Haul