Starting the Side Garden

It has been a while, and now that we are all at home, there is no better time to garden! I have been slowly working on a new bed along the side of the house and stairs.

Looking from the apartment stairs over to the veggie garden

I started this as I start all my beds here, layers and layers of cardboard. Then, I plant through the cardboard. It gives the new plant a chance to get established without competing with the grass and vines. As the cardboard decomposes, you usually have to start weeding. Luckily, I’ve been planting these beds pretty thick. Directly along the wall of the house, I have Mexican Petunia, a native caladium, ageratum (which I started from seed about a year ago and it is finally flowering), coleus, and Persian shield.

Plants like coleus and Persian shield are so easy to propagate through clippings. They act as such a vibrant visual break from all the green that I am incorporating them everywhere!

I spent many trips to random garden stores trying to find canna. I searched everywhere on this island for bulbs and finally found some at Costco, of all places. I also lucked upon canna seed from Park Seed. They are shorter, about 12-16 inches high, but the are doing fabulously. I couldn’t be happier.


Trial and error is the life of the gardener. It has been a prevalent theme for me with gardening in the tropics. Starting seed, then when nothing happens, using the soil again, and finally adding it to my new beds. I had bought lavender and parsley, which were not starting (even after a month in the fridge for the lavender seed). But now, I have a plant of each! I guess nature decides when it is ready. I am also using some nontraditional ground covers. You have to understand, things grow rapidly here, and the grass and vines can take over if you aren’t on top of things. So, I used a water mint as a ground cover, as well as wandering jew. I know these plants have the tendency to want to take over, but they are really helping me control the weeds. Let’s hope this experiment works for the long haul.

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