By Leigh Pirie
There is something special about being able to pick a fruit or vegetable that you have grown yourself and use it for that night’s dinner.
The beauty of growing a garden in the Solomon’s is the constant sun, predictable warmth and the large number of experts in the field of agriculture. Most locals here have a good knowledge of how to successfully grow a garden, a great place to purchase soil or where and when to start your ‘seed nursery’. The biggest tip I have for growing a garden in Honiara is to ask those around you for advice. I am very grateful for knowledgeable haus meres and willing guards who are largely the reason for my productive garden thanks to their agriculture experience.
A few tips
- Start a small ‘nursery’ of seeds in a safe place away from invading snails. Seeds can be purchased at the central market. I have had some success with pak choy seeds from the market, tomato seeds from Australia and eggplant seeds which I dried myself from an eggplant (obviously). You can purchase Seed Raising mix from Island Enterprises for $90 if you wish to.
- Once they are large enough transfer them to containers – Noodle tubs and butter containers are handy.
- You may want to build a garden plot. You can often pick up cheap timber at timber yards if you ask nicely, or you could use stones, coconut shells or chopped down banana trees. If you are able to chop down a nearby young banana tree and cut it into pieces to lay on the bottom of your garden plot under the soil. The decomposing pieces will always help the plants to retain moisture.
- You can purchase good soil at the Central Market, Kastom Garden in Burns Creek or along the road in Kakabona. Ask the vendors about what type of soil they have and explain what you plan on planting. There may be raintree soil, coconut husk soil or plain dirt. A good mixture of these can work. Again, ask the experts. Most bags are between $30 – $50.
- Once the plants are of an appropriate size (again, ask experts – Chinese cabbage needs a certain amount of leaves, tomatoes should be a certain height etc.) transplant them carefully into your pre-prepared garden plot. Leave enough space for them to grow and for tomatoes to be tied to stakes.
- If your plants need shade, shade cloth can be purchased in a few shops, but it can be sometimes hard to find. Try Bowmans Hardware in the city, Fantastic Shopping Centre, or Island Enterprises.
- Keep an eye out for snails!
- Harvest and enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labour!