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By Kara Jernigan. April 4, 2013 - 9:39 am
The things I miss the most about living in California are the fresh fruits and vegetables.
How could I not miss walking down the street to pick bush-ripened raspberries or juicy red tomatoes from my backyard?
The thought of paying over $6 for a pack of not-so-fresh strawberries at my new neighborhood Safeway turns my stomach.
The solution: plant my own garden.
Hawaii has great weather providing a nearly year-round growing season. The hardest part of gardening is knowing what to plant for where you live.
Oahu has naturally rich volcanic soil that is great for exotic fruits and vegetables.
Early Polynesians grew taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes and yams as their diet staples – and let us not forget about the delicious papayas.
While my little two-story town home does not have acres of yard space to plant my own taro field or fruit trees, it does have a sunny little lanai for a few pots and planter boxes.
I will admit I am not a huge vegetable fan, but one of my favorite vegetables is probably the most underrated, spring beets.
Thinly sliced and thrown on the grill, these little rosy red roots are packed full of flavor. They are also nutritious. In addition to being a great source of potassium and vitamin C, they are great for your liver.
Sweet and crispy, green peas are another must-have vegetable in your garden. Like most green vegetables, peas are high in vitamin K – which helps with blood clotting and bone growth.
Try eating them raw and straight from the vine instead of steaming them for an extra sweet and crisp texture.
I used to be force-fed baby carrots by the bag full when I was a little kid. But real baby carrots are just immature regular carrots, not the milled down regular carrots sold by the bag in supermarkets.
If you uproot them in the early summer or late spring, you will have sweet baby carrots. Try it out! They are both cute and delicious.
Another one of my garden favorites is chili peppers. While they are not overly popular to eat straight off the bush, they are a great addition to almost any dish!
Most fruits either grow on huge bushes or trees, but here are a few delicious fruits that are more manageable for small gardens.
Ever wonder where a kiwi comes from? It comes from a vine!
They peak from January through May, and it is best to pick them when they are still a little firm because they continue to ripen off the vine, like a peach.
These are commonly used in fruit salads because they do not brown after being cut. I like to eat them whole, more like an apple. The fuzzy brown skin adds a little tang to the sweet green flesh inside.
If patience is a virtue you have mastered, pineapple is a great tropical fruit that is a fun addition to your garden.
This little shrub takes anywhere from one to three years to produce only one or two pineapples before it dies. However, fresh pineapples are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as bromelain – an important enzyme that gets destroyed in the canning processes.
This brings us to my favorite spring fruit – strawberries. These sweet little rays of sunshine are a nice treat after the winter rains. They may not be an exotic or tropical fruit, but they do like the sun and grow well in warm climates.
Perfectly ripe strawberries are not only a glossy bright red, but they actually smell like strawberries! Have you ever sniffed a strawberry from a grocery store in Hawaii?
If you have not, then let me tell you, very rarely do they smell like anything sweet and delicious. Growing them at home is the perfect remedy.
It can also be a nice touch to your garden to throw in some herbs such as rosemary, mint or thyme.
For under $40 and an hour at the Home Depot nursery, I had a decent collection of pots, seeds and organic soils.
After a few hours of playing with dirt and rearranging pots, my little garden was ready for the next step, waiting. Then it is just a few short weeks to delicious, healthy and cheap fruits and vegetables.