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Guests harvesting at HKU Herb Garden

HKU Edible Spaces
Herb Garden

The HKU Herb Garden is a community garden outside the Main Library growing mostly herbs. The space hosts regular community activities to share herbs, cuttings and seedlings, and to promote sustainable living and wellbeing.

HKU Herb Garden

The Herb Garden was set up by students under the guidance of permaculture practitioners in 2018, as the second project of the HKU Edible Spaces initiative. It is intentionally located in a publicly accessible spot so that everyone can visit at any time.

Years

  • 2018 - ongoing

Location

  • Near HKU Main Library 2/F Entrance

Activities

Objectives

  • Gardening

  • Tea Gatherings

  • Public Workshops and Tours

  • Seeds/Seedlings Sharing

  • Community Events

  • ~10 regular volunteers

  • 10 - 50 people participating at each workshops/events

  • Grow fresh organic herbs to share with the community

  • Nurture a community that shares the same concern on health, environment and our future

  • Spark off more creative and sustainable use of campus space and resources

People involved

Choosing what to grow

We primarily grow herbs at the garden as they are relatively easier to manage and to survive with even less maintenance effort. The garden is located at a highly visible location, so it has to remain presentable and safe at all times. Therefore, hardy herbs which require less structures for growing and less measures for pest control are our top choices. Herbs also provides unique shapes, textures and aromas for our guests to explore by seeing, touching, smelling or tasting and to gain a more holistic experience at the site.

What's growing now

Pandan
Bay Leaf / Bay Laurel
Lavender
Mint
Lemongrass
Mountain Marigold
Mugwort
Stevia

Surinam Cherry

Tarragon

Thyme

Oregano

Marigold

Borage

Chrysanthemum

Pansy

Rosemary

Mexican Mint

Nasturtium

Ginger Lily

Basil 

Setouchi Lemon 
Citrus

Coriander

Damascan Rose

Pomelo

Rue

Peril

Snake Grass

Dragon Fruit

Strawberry

Himalayan Mulberry

Violette De Bordeaux Fig 

Banana Fig

Sweet Basil

Pennyroyal

Garden Pink

Marjoram

Chili Pepper

The
community

Everyone who comes to enjoy the herbs and the space! While around 10 student/staff volunteers perform regular gardening duties, our community includes those who join our tea gatherings, workshops and other activities. Our community also includes those who just come by to walk around or sit at the Herb Garden table, just to enjoy a moment of peacefulness and connection with nature.

Challenges

While the herbs thrive in spring and autumn, they suffer the most in hot and rainy summer days. Therefore in the middle of the year, the Herb Garden could look worn out and messy. However, we try our best to improve the growing condition of the plants by overall design and positioning them in the spot where they can do the best. Even within the tiny Herb Garden, we can find areas with more shade, such as beside the wall, where we can grow plants that are low heat resistant. We can also add shade cover to protect the plants in difficult weather situations. There are also seasons when we have more serious pest problems, one of which is the Fall armyworm. As we practice organic farming, we do not use chemical pesticides. Although it may sound brutal, the best way to manage the pest problem is to kill them or catch them by hand. We also learn to practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management), whereby we improve the overall growing condition of the plant to help the plant be more pest resistant. After years of trial and error, we understand better when and where and what to grow at certain times of the year, and at certain locations.

Special moments

There are many occasions when strangers come by the garden while I am doing regular gardening duty and start a conversation, sharing their passion or curiosity on gardening, and growing food. Eventually many of these “strangers” became our dear teammates and the friendships born out of these encounters are very precious!