What will Wild West winds bring? More flowers and fruit?

By Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst

We had such a weird windstorm with those super strong and gusty west winds! So different then normal.

Up in our valley we lost power twice to the wind and HECO did not restore power until 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday 3/8/2023.

Mangoes and avocados were full of blossoms, Honohono orchids were in bud and some in bloom.

My Portuguese Madeira roses, and native Hawaiian gardenia Na`u have been blooming well, loving the cool and rainy winter were are finally having.

As I clean up the storm debris, (Mahalo for nature’s Arboriculture) including blown down dead twigs and branches, and lots of leaves, some I notice are from my mauka neighbors.

One of the tenets of true Horticulture is to OBSERVE nature and plants, to track the moon, winds, rain and other weather phenomena as see how the plants respond.

I am still reflecting on how the plants would respond.

What do you see? How are your plants after the winds?

Did you have any big tree failures? Or just small or dead branches?

The leaves are whipped on my gingers, Surinam cherries, mulberries, and ohia shed a few flowering branches. A young popolo plant got totally blasted on one side, it was just coming into fruit.

So, we shall see!

Honohono orchids had been in full glorious fragrant bloom as they budded and bloomed early this year. Originally I thought the orchids stood the wind storm but after a few days those in the main wind tunnel area of my garden wilted and withered prematurely.

Went to a neighborhood watch potluck pa`ina and a nice lady, Lokelani, that I always say hi to on my walks was there, with a gorgeous papale lauhala. She admired my honohono and said she caught a whiff of fragrance, from way across the yard, and she looked for the source of this favorite old time Hawaii fragrance, and from where? My hair!

Since she admired the orchids, I had to give them to her, along with maire ferns!

Now a couple weeks after the winds, I’m observing some of my favorite flowers and fruit trees in my garden and neighborhood:

• ‘Ohi’a lehua  Blooming profusely, some dead wood branches and twigs broke in the winds

• Native White Hibiscus wind whipped leaves, a few blooms at the very top of the tree

• Tahitian mountain apples were blooming before, still many flowers and now small fruit.

• Gardenias surprise early blooms two on one stem, but no other apparent buds yet. (they usually bloom for me in May).

• Na`u, native Hawaiian Gardenia lots of flowers and buds (also triggered by abundant soft rains before the winds)

• Madeira roses Blooming profusely.

• Mangoes my Friend Dawn Shim from Makakilo brought me a gift of Haden mangoes, super early for this to fruit.

• Mulberries wind whipped leaves, lots of young fruit

• Pua Keni keni usually Bloom less in winter, BUT after the storm mine are full of Buds, flowers and lots of developing green “ball” fruit.  I made some lei for a fundraiser, and plucked and cut off all the young fruit, to encourage more blooms from the tree 

What are YOU observing, in your garden in your unique microclimate? I would love to hear back from my Gardening Readers …..


Helpful ideas for weed eradication and creative ways to reuse erosion debris

By Heidi Bornhorst

I asked my friend and great Gardener, Mari who lives Mauka of Sunset beach how bad the shoreline erosion was, and can she access her beach?

NO, she said sadly, It’s still blocked off and there is a steep Cliff, and dangerous drop off, it is too dangerous to walk down to Sunset Beach or Kammieland.  

Plus, she continues, there’s so much beach litter and trash everywhere that are a result of “temporary” sandbag burritos and black saran shade cloth.

Along with the liter there are multiple safety issues including rebar, concrete and other structural debris from coastal houses. These houses are now too close to our North shore surf swells, breaking waves and high tides.

BUT, says Mari, there is one upside to this trash and mis-use of our public beach.

My friends and I gather up the black matting erosion control debris that is floating in the ocean. (And yes, its very heavy when waterlogged).

What do you do with it then? We dry it out and SOLARIZE a most hated weed.  You know that Asparagus pokey groundcover? Or sometimes called Asparagus Fern?

Asparagus “fern” is not a fern,  Asparagus sprengeri is actually in the Lily family and is related ot our edible asparagus. It is very pokey, and if it pokes your bare gloveless hands, it’s kind of toxic.

I used to favor it for landscaping because it is extremely tough, xeric, and a good ground cover in a dry neglected garden.

But as a maintenance gardener I HATE it! Its pokey and the pokes from the minute thorns on the stems, can get infected. (remember to put on your garden gloves!) It has underground storage tubers, like little potatoes that make it a drought tolerant survivor plant and also Supremely difficult to eradicate.

You can dig and dig it out, but if one small tuber is left behind, Auwe!  It will all sprout up again.

And it has RED FRUIT, with several black seeds inside.  Birds love to find and eat red fruit and then they poop out the seeds everywhere.


We were talking about the wave erosion, high tides and overly heated water, and global warming change to north shore  and illegals things people are doing..

How’s about the guy pouring concrete and rebar on the beach?  Didn’t someone see it and report the Concrete Company?! Really unfortunate and unsafe issues here. Something needs to be done to save our beaches and Kai for everyone. Hard to watch.

Though there are many things we cannot control, the reuse of this beach trash to help eliminate a weedy plant in the garden, this is AKAMAI!

SOLARAZATION is a great way to control weeds without using dangerous chemical herbicides.

Often we use layers of wet newspaper, cardboard or even carpet to smother and solarize weeds, and turf grass where we don’t want it etc. Then after the weeds are safely killed, you can peel them away, restore the soil, and plant useful plants in place of alien weeds.

The black saran or shade cloth which some use as weed controlling ground cover, or in this case to slow down the power of wave erosion, can be used to solarize and kill weeds in our gardens.

This a beach clean up with a purpose!

Mahalo to Mari and her North shore friends who help clean our beaches and then grow good productive gardens.

Pua kenikeni Original tree

By Heidi Bornhorst

Q: Is pua kenikeni native to Hawaii? Or did the ancient Polynesians bring it? I LOVE that pua and the leis we can make. Please share more about this favorite fragrant garden and lei plant.

​Aunty D, 


A: Puakenikeni is not native to Hawaii, nor did the ancient voyagers bring it on their great sea travelling canoes. It only got to Hawaii in the late 1800s and became widely popular in about 1920. It was given the name pua keni keni (10 cents flower) because the flowers were so highly prized that they sold for 10 cents each!

The scientific name is Fagraea berteriana and it is in the Loganiaceae plant family.

The first pua tree in Hawaii was planted in Maunawili and it was propagated and shared on the windward side of Oahu where it grows well, given some good horticultural TLC.  It became known as the flower of Kane`ohe in the early days.

My Mom Marilyn Bornhorst and I got to visit what is probably the original tree.  It was quite a sight to see!  My calabash Uncle, Ben Lum could be called ‘Mr. Puakenikeni’. 

He has nurtured this tree and made hundreds of not thousands of air layered trees to share over the years. He gives them away and also sells them at Ko`olau farmers. We find that sometimes people appreciate a plant more and will plant it in the ground and malama (cherish and care for) if they paid for it.

Free plants can languish in pots, whereas if you paid hard earned money for it, you are more likely to plant it and water it daily to get it established.

Pua kenikeni do best in the ground, in fertile soil with regular water. They do better in red dirt or rich brown forest type soils than in sandy or beach kind of soils.

The tree is mentioned in the classic book NA LEI by Marie McDonald.  McDonald writes that it was brought to Hawaii from other south pacific islandsby Jarrett P. Wilder.

You can grow it from seeds but that will take a while.  Some people can grow it from cuttings but the most popular way to propagate pua kenikeni is from air layers.  The sooner you plant it in the ground, the quicker it will bloom.  Regular water and compost, from leaves or tree chips will build healthy fertile soil for your tree.  Cheap chemical fertilizer, especially lawn fertilizer with heavy nitrogen (the first number on the fertilizer bag) will not promote blooming.  You can even burn or kill pua kenikeni with harsh chemical fertilizers, so use the old-fashioned Hawaiian soil building techniques of re-using your garden “opala” or green wastes, mulch and compost, to build up your soil and save water too.

Keep your tree pruned low and wide spreading so you can pick the flowers.  You can use a bonsai technique and bend the branches low while they are young and flexible.  I’ve seen some Akamai lei flower growers use pretty Pohaku (rocks) on a rope, to weigh the branches down and train them to be in pickable range.

Pua kenikeni flowers first open and bloom creamy white and turn to a subtle light orange on the second day.  You can pick mature buds or flowers and keep them fresh and firm in a vase of water. Or sprinkle water into the plastic bag with the flowers

The flowers are somewhat fragile and lei makers need to handle them carefully.  Uncle Ben told me a neat technique that one of his friends uses.  He takes a big leaf, makes some pukas and inserts the pua into the pukas.  He then carries the flower adorned leaf and gives away the fragrant blossoms to folks who admire them.  Isn’t that an awesome way to share some aloha?

Lei makers usually clip off the bottom green part of the flower and then string the lei.  The lei is pretty with fresh white flowers or second day light orange.  To refresh a lei puakenikeni, put it in a clear plastic bag, blow some air in the bag and seal it.  Float this in a bowl of cool water.  NEVER put puakenikeni in the refrigerator the lei will not last. It will turn black and then to mush (we had an inexperienced florist that did put them in the fridge and Auwe!  The next morning those lovely carefully plucked and strung blossoms were all black and yucky.

To promote flowers on your tree, clip or pinch off the developing fruit which look like green balls and then turn orange when ripe. If you cut open a ripe one you will see hundreds of small black seeds inside. It kind of looks like the insides of a cut papaya – orange flesh and black seeds.

I sometimes clip off bunches of the green or orange fruit with their stems and use them for a long-lasting flower arrangement.  I love them for Fall arrangements, and they are pretty at Christmas time too. 

Developing fruit takes energy from the tree. If you clip off the fruits that tree energy will go into producing more flowers. Akamai lei flower growers pinch off every green fruit and then have an abundance of the fragrant pretty flowers.

Singapore Pua kenikeni

Star Jasmine

By Heidi Bornhorst

A classic old fashioned, fragrant hedge and special plant.  Maybe a LEI plant?  for small fingers and with a delicate lei needle…..

‘What kind of pikake is this?’, asked my friend Joan Takamori as she walked by our front planting strip.

I had propagated some from Mary Osorio’s house when she moved away to Wahiawa, and stuck it out front for others to enjoy too.

Its flowering so nicely in winter and it does have the great pikake perfume!

So tough 

so pretty 

so reminiscent ….

My parents planted a star jasmine hedge and Singapore Plumeria trees outside their bedroom window.

So Akamai my Mom, on Landscape Design!

Our family yard in Makiki was pretty bare at first, except for tons of coconut trees, a date palm, Chinese banyan, giant yellow poinciana tree and more. My folks carefully edited out some of the excess and overly large, big trees as time went by so we could grow more food and more fragrant and fun flowers.

My Dad chiseled out a parking spot by chiseling and sledge hammering out the rock cliff below and he carried up the rocks and made rock walls to keep us kolohe kids contained. (Good cross-training for a Surfer!)

And what a great Landscape Design Concept: Fragrance outside your bedroom window• To waft in on the lovely brisk Tradewinds• To float in gently on warm kona winds•

Star jasmine is an old kama`aina favorite that we don’t see planted so often these days

It’s tough, easy to grow, fragrant and has nice fuzzy leaves. It has a “clean” look with its olive-green leave and clusters of bright white fragrant blossoms. It’s easy to propagate and pretty much pest free.

And the Flowers are fragrant.

As Joan intrinsically knew; it is related to pikake.

Amazingly the fragrance is very similar to our cherished pikake Jasminum sambac.

As true pikake has some bad bud stinging pests now (an alien fly) and growers sometimes overspray insecticide on the buds. Lei making is not FOOD so there are no legal restrictions on how recently it was sprayed with insect poison.

Growers have gotten sick from this, and recently when I wear a pikake lei, though I love the fragrance, my stomach feels a bit sick after a while.)

Maybe we could make a fragrant lei of Star jasmine instead?

Another name for star jasmine is Poet’s jasmine. The Latin name is Jasminum officinale. Star Jasmine is native from the Trans Caucasus to Southern Central China.

It is in the Oleaceae or Olive plant family

You can Grow it from Cuttings.

Star jasmine is Pretty easy to grow from cuttings. Harvest semi-woody branches, about 4-6” inches long, stickthem directly in the ground or in a pot of highquality potting mix and soil. Water daily.

Pandan Wangi

By Heidi Bornhorst

Pandanus amaryllifolius
Working at the Honolulu Zoo, we were helping move and relocate plants for the community gardens from behind the zoo on Paki, to a new garden on Leahi and Paki.  As we were helping the (unhappy) gardeners, I heard Victorino Acorda, one of our best Gardeners and true plantsman exclaim in delight!
‘Pandan wangi!  Makes the rice taste so good Heidi!  I’ve been looking for this plant since I moved here from the PI!’
He was almost crying; he was so happy!
Then the other day I was stuck in morning traffic on Mo`oheau St in Kapahulu.  To amuse myself I looked closely at gardens along the street.  There was a really nice garden with a southeast Asia flavor.  First, I noticed nice clumps of lemon grass and some healthy papaya trees.
What was the clumping bright green plant in front of the lemon grass?  PANDAN WANGI!

So attractive in this landscape design and so useful.
We have it growing in the southeast Asian plant section at Ho’omaluhia Botanic Garden.  One year it was a featured plant at our plant sale, and we hope to feature it again once we can open up our gardens safely once again.
It is fairly easy to grow.  You can divide the clump and make new plants.  

Those who know this plant usually just call it pandan. There are many ways you can cook with it.
Some call Pandan, the Vanilla of the east, or the vanilla of Southeast Asia.
You can boil with whole leaves and combine them with other ingredients.  You can wrap foods in them and then cook them (like we do with Ti leaves).
If you’re handy with your blender, grind some fresh leaves with water and then freeze the juice in a mold or ice cube tray and use it for drinking or cooking later.
You could also add it to GREEN SMOOTHIES
Some just buy a bottle of pandan paste.  Lexi had some from Singapore, she had it quite a while I smelled it and then read the label.  It smelled really ono. The ingredients not so much.
How do we make it from the fresh leaves that we can grow in our Gardens?
You can just chop it up and add to the rice pot as you cook your rice.
You can make tea with the leaves. You can add your favorite tea like jasmine to the pot.  Pour hot water over both and let steep for Five minutes.
I made some with just hot water, poured over and steeped over leaves. it tasted ok
On 9 28 21 trying strip leaves lengthwise in 3s, add Olena and ginger powders, and three mamaki leaves, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so. It Smells really good!
There are lots of Creative and Foodie things you can do with pandan:
• Twist the leaves into Roses like we do with Ti leaves
• Little cups for deserts
• You can make green smoothies with it
• Pandan Chicken and Pandan Rice
• Grilled Fish stuffed with Pandan are just a few recipes that are popular.
And many desserts, variously featuring coconut milk, and various sugars like palm sugar.
If you look online there are lots of recipes, some quite layered and complex.  Some really pretty drinks and you insert a leaf tip to give it that final Flare of Gourmet Drink décor.
It gives the dish a lovely green color and subtle flavor.
I took some in mixed arrangement as a hostess gift for Lexi Hada and Barney Robinson.  One of their guests, Teua from the Cook Islands admired it, drew it out of the arrangement and sniffed it.
As he ran his hands over the glossy thornless leaves, we talked about it.  He recognized it as a Pandanus, or HALA relative but NO THORNS! We all wondered how it would be for weaving.
The Latin name, Pandanus amaryllifolius refers to this. The growth is much like a hala, but the leaves are soft and shiny with no thorns.
Besides being ONO, it’s a very attractive garden accent or spotlight plant in your garden.
I also like it as an exciting and exotic foliage element in a Tropical Flower arrangement.
We plan to feature it at a Future Covid 19 safe FOHBG plant sale.

Nutrition of Mountain Apples

By Heidi Bornhorst

Local Hawaii people are so Funny!

Nowadays people go nuts for Mangos and lychee and `ULU.

Even to far as buying them in the store!

Don’t you all think we should have some fruit trees in our gardens? And share with friends and neighbors? Let’s plant and grow some fruits today!

As kids, mangoes were like stray kittens, people would beg you to take them! We got jobs raking up the fallen smashed ones from super tall trees for elderly neighbors.

I could never get enough lychee even tho the trees were abundant in Makiki where I grew up. Lychee enticed me to move to Wahiawa where we had two lychee trees and then planted a third.

When you offer people mountain apples or `ohi`a `ai some are enthusiastic, some will help you pick and rake up and some meet the offer with distain.


Nutritionally they are great; lots of hydration for your body, and rich in vitamins C, Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and super rich in potassium.

Also known as `Ohi`a `ai, the `ohi`a that you eat (`Ai) they were carried here by ancient Polynesians in their sailing canoes, an important part of our “imported” landscapes and gardens.

What a gorgeous gift to find when hiking the low moist forests. This fruit will keep you hydrated on your hike!

And you can bring home a seed and grow it to commemorate that special hike. Surprise and share with your hiking buddies at the next festive occasion.

They are nice to grow in our gardens too. A small to medium tree with pretty leaves and bark most of the year and then BOOM! in flower so pretty magenta pom poms

A month or two later you will have that juicy ono fruit. Like jewels up in the tree canopy.

Besides eating them straight off the tree, you can slice and add to fruit salads.

Or as my niece Jalene found out for us, you can make pickles from them to savor for another day. 

My friend and akamai farmer Deborah Ward makes a mean mountain apple pie and you can also make mountain apple sauce.

Add some slices to your favorite cold beverage.

You can make a lei with the smaller green and white fruit.  Store the lei in the fridge and when you wear it “Fruit cooling air conditioning” !  I made one for my then boss, Sydney Iaukea at a Kupuna Hawaiian studies training session and the lei kept her cool all day.

It’s an unusual lei today.   But easy to make and fun and unusual to wear.

​The scientific name is Eugenia mallaccensis and they are in the MYRTACEAE plant family along with `Ohi`a lehua, guavas, rose apples, Eucalyptus, and more.

Some call them Malay apple as they are native to the Malay peninsula and southeast Asia.

We have different varieties in Hawaii, a pure white one, a seedless one, squat plump Hawaiian variety and long and big Tahitian variety.

Many grew naturally in the wet lowland tropics of Ho`omaluhia Botanic Garden and then we planted more in the “Kahua Kukui” Polynesian plants section of this amazing and FREE botanic garden in Kane`ohe.

They are easy and fun to grow from seeds.  Save a seed from an ono one and plant it right away.

Besides the ono fruit and attractive flowers and tree, bringing shade and birds to yoru garden, mountain apples have medicinal uses.

The bark is a sore throat cure.   If you feel a sore throat coming on or are getting a cold, scrape off some young bark, rinse it and chew it.  It has lots of tannins and this truly can help ward off a cold.

The nutritious fruit will also help keep you healthy !

Garden Gifts for the Season

By Heidi Bornhorst

One of the best gifts to others is our time.  Time helping or encouraging someone in their garden.

So many Kupuna love to garden but may have a hard time with tasks like lawn mowing and weeding or Pruning and debris removal.  Why not offer this loving kokua to someone in your Ohana, or an elderly neighbor who is getting to an age, or state of fragility that some hana Hau`oli, happy work, would give them a lift !?

We have a neighbor who is a widow who loves her home and garden, but I hear her concerns. She is so happy and relieved when the weed eater crew shows up.  Her family is large, but they don’t seem to know how to run the lawn mower.  Hint hint

Sharing produce from our gardens is another free and generous gift to share.  Just pick it, wash it and maybe wrap it up in a basket with some colorful ribbons, and garden greenery.  Awesome gift and Holiday décor too.

If you’re still OK financially, support one of our local garden shops and go shopping!   Buy some pretty flowering plants, orchids, herbs or vege starters. Seeds or Bulbs like Narcissus, or Amaryllis or Caladiums  an exciting gift for gardeners !

Potting mix (I always look for the locally crafted ones) is always welcome, and even offer a little muscle if some plant of theirs needs re-potting into a larger or decorative (or heavy) pot. Cinder to mix with the potting soil makes a great soil for plants or to top dress and beautify their garden. (Cinder repels slugs too)

High quality garden clippers, a new sharp handsaw, or an extendable grip pruner, great gifts ! a decent pair of gloves, a bit waterproof or with finger grips. 

The Electric battery-operated lawn mowers and string trimmers are an improved technology that is quite epic!  We tested one for my Father in law’s lawn and it had so many plusses!  It was QUIET! So, we could mow early while its cool and not disturb the neighbors.  The battery was a bit heavy, but it held a charge for at least three mowings (and he a had a big yard with St. Augustine grass, so that was a good test !)  Not having to mess with or purchase gas and oil is another major plus.  Its also great for our environment !

String trimmers are next on my list, battery operated, quiet and again no smelly, spillable gas and oil to deal with. 

The electric lawn mowers are also easy to start; just the push of a button.  Amazing ! and what a thoughtful and akamai gift !

Locally grown Christmas trees :

I love the smell of the mainland trees BUT so many pests!  Nasty insects, wasps, slugs, murder hornets and even snakes can hide and ride aboard a tree and get established in Hawaii.  

Give a growing plant, like a Cook pine in a pot.  These grow well and even make good houseplants.

Buy a tree from a local tree nursery like Helemano farms.  They have Cook pines, and some of the more fragrant trees like Murray and Leland Cypress and Carolina Sapphire trees.   My sister Mimi Bornhorst Gaddis Loved the Norfolk pine wreath. She reminded me to tell folks to go up, enjoy the day and give a nice tip to the tree cutters and loaders, all hired from the community for the holidays.

Mimi loves the open branch structure of a Norfolk,  as she says ‘they so nicely showcase my precious heritage ornaments’.  Plus, it’s what we grew up with.

Our neighbors the Osorio ohana recently moved up to Wahiawa, and Mary is finding all the kewl things about that lovely upland town.  They went to Helemano Farms too as a family, for a  fun and safe Covid outing and this is what she said:

‘Absolutely in love with our big and beautiful tree. The first fresh one we’ve had in a while and it’s Super Fresh because it was grown right here in our town of Wahiawa. Who knew there was a Christmas tree farm here?! Last week the girls and I had fun picking it out and today it came into the house. We’re trying to figure out how to mitigate the risk of the (newly adopted) destructive dog. Really looking forward to decorating it.’

Just love supporting local family businesses!

The Osorios got a Cypress tree; they chose the greener one says Osorio. (One type has more greyish needles, and one is greener and Brighter)

`A young Hawaiian man helped us get the tree secured to the van, they were so Delightful and Eager to help us.  They come and cut it exactly the size you want and make sure its safely loaded.  There were lots of young local boys, happy and eager to kokua.’

More farms are growing Christmas trees on the Neighbor islands too.  This is a great thing for us to support and perpetuate. Grow and buy local, support each other and keep alien pest species OUT.

You can check the website for Helemano Farms in advance to see what various sizes and varieties will cost.

As Mary Osorio said, ‘The cost was comparable to the shipped in kind.  We’ve paid $120 in the past for a big, imported one.  This tree that we love so much cost $90.  Just so folks know….. ‘

Pic by Mary Osorio:
Lehuanani and Hali`a Osorio with kolohe rescue Dog, Ho`aka, in a field of home-grown holiday trees. An Anuenue or rainbow points to the most Golden of Local grown trees !

Chaya, Togan, Marungay Interesting, Health Boosting Perennials to Grow

By Heidi Bornhorst

It’s amazing to see our Quarantined Community excited about growing vegetables.  I wish everyone success!  Neighbors engaging Keiki, and sharing.

Every day I’m grateful for my ohana, neighborhood and Community.  Mahalo Hawai’i folks !

Who thinks we need more Community gardens, for those with no land? 

Three generations of my neighbors; Sarah, Avery and Alina Rosier, went shopping together and reported 3 stores were out of potting mix!  Some nice big expensive potted plants followed them home !  They did endeavor to persevere and found the potting mix.  They are growing `uala or sweet potato in pots in the back yard.  And sharing rooted slips with our neighbors.

I reminded them gently that vegetables, herbs and most flowering plants grow most productively in full sun and with daily gentle watering.  Morning is the best time to water and now many of us can do that because we’re not rushing off to work or taking kids to school in the morning.

So, get up early enjoy the sunrise and give your plants a drink.

As you water, LOOK and observe your plants.  Turn over the leaves as you water and search for incipient pests.  Rub them off the undersides, shoot with water.  If the insect pests are bad, spray with soapy water (one tablespoon per gallon of liquid Dish soap) this smothers and kills sap-sucking insects like aphids, scale, and whiteflies.

Do a slug and snail patrol :

Don’t touch them!  Teach your Keiki. 

My kolohe neighbor Li’i Pat likes to gleefully salt them or stomp on them and watch their colorful guts come out.  BUT this still exposes him and everyone else to Rat lung worm disease (spread by those yucky aliens: slugs, snails and rats)

Not to be mean, but every one of these pests eliminated, and Cleanly disposed of,  is good for us and our Hawaiian environment.

My landscape architect and Natural Gardener friend, Brenda Lam has the tools and techniques down, and I add a bit of plastic recycling (if you have plastic, use it more than once and then properly dispose):

  1. Small bucket or jar of salt
  2. Tongs
  3. Chopsticks
  4. Plastic bags
  5. Plastic forks (recycled from your plate lunch)
  6. Sluggo Plus
  7. Sanitation – dispose of them, bagged in the rubbish can.
  8. Patrol early or late and after it rains
  9. Capture, salt, and bag
  10. Trash the salted, jarred slugs, in a plastic bag.

I worry that many will have limited success and give up on food gardening.  I have some tricks and hacks to help:

  • Grow perennials
  • Grow plants adapted to Hawaii and to Your micro-climate
  • Buy Keiki starter plants
  • Full sun
  • Hose nearby
  • Daily tending
  • Observation
  • Perennial vs Annuals for Hawaii gardens
  • Daily Slug patrol

What is a perennial

A Long-Lived plant, vs. an annual.   Annual plants grow for just one season or one year.

Here in Hawaii some of them don’t follow those rules !  we could just call them “fairly short-lived plants”.  But we might as well learn the right Horticultural terminology as we educate ourselves and our ever inquisitive and Akamai keiki!

My friend Ben Kam shared Chaya with me.  This must be cooked, boiled for 20 minutes first.  It has milky sap, which is a caution for us, but it is super ONO!  Before cooking it is high in hydrocyanic acid.  Some say you can safely eat up to five leaves raw a day but cooking works for me!

 I made an `ulu lasagna, with Chaya “spinach” the other day.  Lasagna is my husband Clark’s favorite but HO! Lots of work and dishes!  But with Covid 19 quarantine, it is good to practice long slow cooking skills, rather than getting depressed watching TV or online news.

Chaya is also called Tree spinach and scientists call it Cnidoscolus aconitifolius and place it in the Euphorbiaceae plant family.

 It is easy to grow stick a big cutting (1/2” wide by 6-12” long into the ground or a big pot and water daily.

Togan or Green long squash.   Retired Fire Captain, John Drake grew one and was excitedly asking when to harvest it? You want it not too big or it will be junk, too tough and woody  for eating.  

One name is Tabugnao according to Gourmet chef and gardener Carol Hasegawa

The Smooth one is Hyotan and the Fuzzy one is Togan  according to  Corliss Yamasaki

Long green squash

Recipes from Carol Hasegawa  5/28/2020: 

Filipino style

Tabugnao Carol Hasegawa

  1. Brown pork (or use roast pork – I like this better) in garlic and little oil till caramelized
  2. Add sliced squash w/a  half-cup water
  3. Let steam till squash slightly cooked
  4. Add sliced tomato (gives flavor to dish)
  5. add some shoyu for final flavoring
  6. Simmer till soft to your liking 

Japanese style: 

Add dried ebi (dry shrimp) in water ( not sure how much you are making but maybe 1 c of water)

Add sliced squash – cook till slightly cooked

Add ¼ c shoyu and 1/8 c sugar


Marungay, Kalamungay or Moringa, the Ben tree native to India but now a “new” superfood for all

You can grow it from Seeds, I did this for my Dad when he mentioned that all the great native Hawaiian plants, I was growing were not much good for human food and that Food plants were important to him.

Generally, we grow Kalamungay from Cuttings,   Jimmy Lorenzo, my  Epic Waianae farmer mentor recommends one-inch cuttings about two feet long.  Poke them directly into the ground and water daily.

Once it is growing well, harvest regularly and keep the plants in pick-able reach.

Traditionally we eat this in stews, in soups and so on.  As Robin Sunio taught me, add the leaves to your soup at the end.  Just a gentle simmer for a minute and they won’t be bitter, and this preserves more nutrients.

The Green juicers discovered Moringa and add it to juices and smoothies.  I thought, Yikes!  You can’t eat that raw!  But you can, the young tender leaves are fine.  Ono and nutritious.

You can eat the flowers, leaves, and young seed pods.  The root is also edible and tastes like horseradish.

Nobody that I know of in Hawaii has eaten the root, we are too busy growing and eating the other good parts !  But we do love horseradish, so one day I plan to sample some of the roots.