By Heidi Bornhorst
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 !
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….. ‘
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):
- Small bucket or jar of salt
- Plastic bags
- Plastic forks (recycled from your plate lunch)
- Sluggo Plus
- Sanitation – dispose of them, bagged in the rubbish can.
- Patrol early or late and after it rains
- Capture, salt, and bag
- 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
- 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:
Tabugnao Carol Hasegawa
- Brown pork (or use roast pork – I like this better) in garlic and little oil till caramelized
- Add sliced squash w/a half-cup water
- Let steam till squash slightly cooked
- Add sliced tomato (gives flavor to dish)
- add some shoyu for final flavoring
- Simmer till soft to your liking
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.