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 …..
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.
AN ALL AROUND PESTY PLANT !!
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.
After three years of lockdown, we are finally, Happily, able to celebrate Arbor Day in Kapi`olani Park once again.
On Saturday November 19, 2022, we will gather with ScenicHawaii, Inc., Kapi`olani Park Preservation society, some Dedicated City tree workers and Arborists, Volunteers, and all of us who love and cherish trees and our Park.
We will be planting and ceremonially mulching four new trees courtesy of the Division of UrbanForestry led by Certified Arborist Brandon Au and DUF/ City and County of Honolulu Parks Department.
Citizen Forester Emily Perry will be representing our busy parks director Laura Thielen.
The trees are drought tolerant and are native to coastal subtropical forests of Australia.
The common name is FLAME Tree, or Illawarra Flame tree. Also called the lacebark tree.
One thing our mentor Paul Weissich, Director Emeritus of the Honolulu BotanicalGardens taught us, is to look beyond flowers when you view trees.
What does the bark look like? How is the truck shaped? What is the growth pattern? What kind of shade pattern does it adorn the ground with? What are the leaves like? Are they good for mulch and soil nurturing? For Keiki art projects?
As we Arborists say, “Touch trees”. Place your hand on the trunk and look UP! What do you see, in the Tree Canopy? I love doing this with keiki of all ages!
When we plant a tree, we are investing in, and finding out about the future. This small tree, grown from a tiny seed and planted today. What will it grow into in the Future?
We can read about the size and growth habits in a book, but how big will it really get here in Hawaii? Will it grow big and strong with proper nurturing and akami tree maintenance?
Will it withstand the abuse that trees sometimes take in public park spaces? Will most people be happy and respect the growing young trees? We sure hope so! Trees ensure a healthy, happy future for all of us.
Known in Scientific Latin as Brachychitonacerifolium, the Illawarra Flame trees are in the Sterculiaceae plant family.
We don’t have many of these trees in Hawaii. A few grow at Foster and Ho’omaluhia Botanical gardens. These were grown from seed by the Horticulturist and Plant propagators at Foster Botanical Garden.
They are particularly striking when in bloom,with bright red orange or scarlet flowers. The flowers look like a hanging red bell when viewed from the side. If you look directly at them, they look like stars.
The leaves are shaped like a kukui leaf, or a mainland maple tree leaf. This is what the species name acerifolium means. Acer is the Latin name for Maple, and folium as you might guess is referring to the foliage or leaves, maple shaped leaves.
The trees will grow up and into a pyramid shapewith a tall, greenish grey, smooth round shapedtrunk. In time they can grow up to about 100feet tall (30 – 35 meters). They are a popular street tree in Australia and around the subtropical world.
The seeds of Brachychiton species are edible. But like many plants in the sterculia family they have irritating hairs, which must be removed or carefully removed to get to the edible seeds. Native Australians ate them raw or roasted. They are nutritious, containing 18% protein and 25% fat with high levels of zinc and magnesium.
There are uses for this tree in its native Australia. Fiber is made from the bark and a kind of gum can be extracted. The wood is soft but dries hard. Shingles, among other things, are made from the wood. The roots of young trees are edible, but let’s not do this in our park!
A related tree, Brachychiton rupestris is called the bottle tree. It grows a big fat water retaining trunk over time, somewhat like the Baobab tree from Africa.
Mahalo to Wikipedia for some of this info, I also referred to our old standard book: In Gardens of Hawaii, by Marie C. Neal.
My friend Lexi Hada contacted me about a volunteer opportunity. When Lexi calls you know it’s going to be a FUN and interesting time!
We joined some fellow volunteers, including some famous Lei makers at 9:00 a.m. at Linekona.
I was so impressed with the Volunteers and staff joining with the Artist Rebecca Loise Law and her bouncy fun entertaining husband Andy.
Just being in Linekona is a gift and it brings back memories of other art projects, Classes in Art, wood shows, teaching and learning moments with art and our Honolulu Community.
Rebecca and Andy had asked for flowers which they would dry (in an upstairs room with newspapers spreadout on the floor)
We had brought big bags of floral gifts, tasty treats, and lei that we made to share from our gardens.
The Laws and HoMA worked with the Honolulu Botanical Gardens for a collection of great florals from Foster and Koko Crater Botanical gardens, including Quipo, which is a huge, stout trunked tree from South America, and is related to the African Baobab. The big, winged seeds of the Quipo which we’ve used as intriguing decorations over the years were strung into giant lei for the Awakening art show.
We were given various dried flowers to work with:
RAINBOW SHOWER flowers
Cup and saucer
Cook pine needles
Strands of super fine copper wire is used for stringing. We would carefully poke through the flower, like using a lei needle, or wrap the plant material with the fine wire. We spaced out the flowers by making an artful twist in the wire.
It sounds tedious but the time passed quickly, it was fun to learn a new style, which I likened to Lei making. Andy Law (husband of the artist) came bouncing into the room, and talked to us about the process, Life and gardens in England, Wales, and Scotland.
Three hours sounded like a long time to volunteer but Andy kept us entertained and the process was fascinating. I was so busy crafting and learning, visiting with the other volunteers and seeing their workmanship, that time flew by.
I congratulate the Honolulu Museum of Art staff for nurturing us volunteers; from free parking, snacks, and working together on such an engaging Floral Art project. There were several staffers to greet and orient us volunteers and Volunteer coordinator Kaylee Clark stayed with us in our lei making session, encouraging us, and sharing about art exhibits and other events at the Museum.
Clark stayed with us in our lei making session, encouraging us, and sharing about art exhibits and other events at the Museum.
Awakening is a year long exhibit in the upstairs L-wing. The Laws have produced these kinds of floral exhibits and art work previously but this is the first time in Hawaii. They brought dried materials and continued the process of gathering and drying flowers from Hawaii.
The main volunteer tasks for this project were cutting and bending of wire along with stinging of flowers. Flower donations came from volunteers. Flowers used each day varied on availability. The process was collecting, drying, and then a 3-day freeze. HoMA tried to keep each day different, as there were a lot of repeat volunteers and they wanted to keep the experience new and interesting. Approximately 250 Volunteers helped from August 16- September 16, 2022.
Andy and Rebecca arrived in Hawaii in early August 2022 and will stay and coordinate the assembly and opening of the art exhibit, which will be up for a year to enjoy.
They have had similar floral exhibits all over the world, including England.
Artful friends Marin Philipson, Debbie Choo, and Patty Mowat joined Lexi and me.
Amazing long time and Awesome lei makers Joyce Spoehr a HBG Retiree and active volunteer, Iris Fukunaga who still works at HBG (Honolulu Botanic gardens) and Dyanne Taylor a Master lei maker, famous for her tiare bud lei, is another City Parks and Recreation retiree(and fellow surfer) who Volunteers at all the fun plant and lei events. My Friend and great gardener Rosemary was there too. It was so fun to have the master craftswomen there, as we all learned this new technique.
I had so much fun making my lei, first with Phaleonopsis or Butterfly Orchids, then one with red cup and saucer and then with the Lavender cup and saucer. I had never noticed before, working with this as a fresh floral, the different shapes of the dried petals.
Loved the garlic vine flowers for a strand too. This is an old fashioned kama`aina plant that we do not see too often these days. I love the striking lavender color when it is fresh, and it dries very nicely. Seems like the petals are tough enough to hold up
As we completed each long strand (sixty inches measured by the length of our worktables), the lei strands were gently laid into big, long floral boxes, with the layers separated by tissue paper.
The process, of drying the flowers first was something like how botanists and taxonomists, like at the Bishop Museum or National Tropical Botanical Gardens, or even Kew Gardens in the U.K. make dried Herbarium specimens of plants to document and study.
Such a process and so many Na lima Kokua (helping hands) putting the art exhibit together.
As we were wrapping up, the artist herself joined us and we bedecked her with lei and floral gifts. Slender and dressed in black, Rebecca Louise Law looked amazing and happy with our floral adornments. She spoke a few quiet words thanking us.
I thought about what a wonderful team she and her husband Andy make, him warm and bouncy and super enthusiastic, and she reserved and artistic.
Another amazing thing that happened was that the Director of the museum, Halona Norton-Westbrook, joined us to say mahalo, and spoke briefly with us volunteers.
I was talking with my neighbors on their sunset stroll and found that Julia Weiting was also volunteering. Every time she went, they gave her different florals to work with.
I was so inspired after about what I could make next! I also thought a lot about the process and which other flowers or foliage we might incorporate. A fresh style of lei making! A quick and fun one to teach keiki, a way to decorate homes or papale!
I am so excited to see the completed exhibit, called “Awakening.” Its opens to the public on Saturday September 17, 2022, and continues to be on display until September 2023.
The fragrance of tuberose! One of my Mother’s favorites, as a lei of tuberose and yellow roses are what my dad got her for their simple wedding ceremony. She also loved the smell of pineapple, because my dad gifted her with those too!
I like them in a lei, combined with other flowers like roses, carnations or orchids.
Florists carry this fragrant lei and if you grow your own, imagine what flowers from your garden you can combine with tuberose?
It’s an old-fashioned flower.
We used to grow a lot of them here in Hawaii. When I worked at Evergreen nurseries in Waimanalo, in 1978, one of my friends there, was working a second job, harvesting tuberose.
Her name was Estralita, and she was from the PI and recently married. I think her new family really made her work hard! At two jobs and at home. She said they harvested in the dark using headlamps.
She told me that her named meant “star” and how appropriate that she worked at night when the stars came out!
She taught me the saying ‘Mabuhay las Philippinas !!’ Long life to Filipino women!
I wonder what happened to her, as she was kind, nice FUN and hardworking.
Tuberoses remind me of her, and I say a special prayer for her happiness.
I got some from Estralita back then and grew it in our family garden in Makiki. It did well for a while and even sent up a flower spike. But then it got a very bad infestation of mealy bugs. I treated it but they were too severe, and the plant died. I was sad.
Maybe tuberose does not like Makiki black sand as a potting media? Or it needs cooler conditions. Time to do some research and find out!
The other day I got an email from my friend Ruth Fujita, another great gardener.
She was offering us, her Budleys, tuberose bulbs. She had a big plant and dug it up, dried out the bulbs a bit and had some to share with da girls.
So, Rachel Morton and I went up there, after a visit to Foster garden to see the Triennial art exhibit.
Ruth shared how she got the tuberose bulbs:
Our niece Tia C. had gone traveling. She needed omiyage for her epic Aunt Ruth and so in the airport she bought a bulb in a package.
Ruth grew them and was now sharing them with Lynne, Cheryl, Doris Susan Young, Annie, and me and Rachel.
Such an epitome of the Friendship Garden: Grow something with love (and good horticulture!) and then share it with your friends.
With rare plants, this is a Botanic Gardenconcept: Share it and keep good records. If yours dies, you know right where you can get a replacement.
With plants of sentiment like this tuberose, its mainly sharing the wealth and the stories. But it will be epic for us all to see them grow and Bloom!
People call it a bulb but the roots are actually a rhizome (just like our fragrant gingers)
Fragrant, showy flowers in the late, HOT summertime lead many to plant tuberose bulbs. The scientific name is Polianthes tuberosa, and it also called the Polyanthus lily. It is in the Lily family, LILIACEAE.
Florists and nurseries sometimes “force” tuberose to bloom year round with artificial lighting.
Tuberose has a strong and enticing fragrance makes it a popular plant in our Hawaii gardens. Clusters of large white blooms form on stalks that can reach 4 feet (1 m.) in height and rise from grass-like clumps.
Tuberose was discovered by explorers in Mexico as early as the 1500’s. It was one of the first flowers to be imported to Europe, where it was very popular in Spain.
It likes well drained, compost enriched soil. It likes FULL SUN especially hot afternoon sun (which not all plants do)
Plant them 2-3” deep.
In cold regions they dig out the roots in winter. In Hawaii we can dig them out hand let them rest but not for too long or they will dry out.
There are single and double flowered varieties and now we are seeing them in different colors like yellow and pale pink.
Citrus grow well in our Hawaii gardens, trees come in all shapes and sizes. Many people ask me for smaller fruit trees, or even shrubs and finger lime fits this to a T!
One fun one that I first heard about and got to sample while visiting gardens on Hawaii island (a few years ago) with fellow horticulturist Erin Lee is the finger lime.
It is so Fun to eat! Cut open a ripe one and just squeeze it out like wasabi paste ! Fun for keiki to learn about, grow and eat more healthy fruit.
The little fruitlets inside can be white, green, or pink. The skin of the fruit as well as the insides, comes in different colors.
So pretty and decorative for your Holiday table, whatever the Holiday is! Let’s celebrate being alive and learning to grow and eat new things from our own gardens !
And sharing with friends and neighbors!
Amazing at your next gourmet potluck! (when it safe to have a pa`ina). Imagine pairing it with home made sushi ! or on fish, or in drinks
Lee suggests growing it in a large decorative ceramic pot in full sun. Once it’s growing vigorously, you can shape it as a standard or into a topiary on your sunny lanai or party patio !
It came to us from Australia, a land of many wonderful and unusual plants.
Scientists call it Citrus australasica and it is in the Rutaceae or Citrus Family. It is also sometimes called “caviar lime”.
It is a rambling, very thorny, under-story shrub or small tree, from lowland, subtropical rain-forests, and dry rain-forests in the coastal border region of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.
Happily, we are now growing finger limes in Hawai’i. We need to grow more of them and test varieties and find out which are best for our micro-climates.
The shrub is variable in height and its leaves and mixed in with thorns. Buds are purple, petals are white . The flowers are tiny . The fruit is cylindrical, 4–8 inches long, sometimes slightly curved, and shaped like a fat finger. Finger limes come in a range of colors, both inside and out
HOW DO YOU EAT IT?
One fun way to prepare eat this fruit is to cut the ends off and use a rolling pin and roll out the small, caviar-shaped vesicles. The fruit caviar can be used wherever you would like a squeeze of citrus. Or just cut and squeeze out the fruitlets like a tube of wasabi paste.
For a fun family pa`ina, have your keiki help you prepare your gourmet fruit platter and let them open and squeeze out the tart juicy insides.
In France they call it “lemon Caviar’ and it commands a very high price in Gourmet restaurants. They must grow them in greenhouses there.
This could be a model for us in Hawaii. A rare, pretty and flavorful gourmet treat sold for a good price. We could develop our own varieties that do thrive here.
This is true Horticulture and why the U.H. could sure use a Tropical fruit specialist to help grow our farms and support farmers.
I spoke with amazing ex UH extension agent Jari Sugano. She was growing finger limes as a hedge crop at Waimanalo experimental station. She mentioned how thorny they are.
Clients do ask me for thorny plants to help secure their homes and gardens. This could be a plus for farm security but does make harvesting tricky.
Tree crops are good for the land as they are perennials and you don’t have to work over the soil like with veg crops. This is the concept of permaculture,
Frank Sekiya and Lynn Tsuruda of Frankie’s Fruit Tree Nursery in Waimanalo are growing finger limes. I talked to them about their experience with this interesting citrus fruit.
Douglas Himmelfarb was living at the Marks estate in Nu’uanu and he gave Sekiya some varieties. The California varieties do fruit well in California but not always here in Hawaii.
Some in the field that Sekiya planted got huge, and never bore fruit. Some only a few fruits; Sekiya relates that there is so much variability.
Ken Love, a major Fruit advocate on Hawaii island, gave Sekiya some cuttings, and he say it fruits all year, and it’s the slightly pink one. The outside of the fruit is kind of purple and matures to green, if it gives a little, that’s how you tell its ripe enough to pick, the fruit will have sort of a spongy feel.
We have so many micro-climates and soil types in Hawaii, that we all can experiment with which ones grow and fruit best in our own ecosystem. People have had them in their yards for a while, says Sekiya and some grew well, and yet barely fruited,
They graft finger limes and can also start them from cuttings. Grafting is quicker, but it’s a practice and skill that not many have today. (Something to learn and practice, while we stay safely at home ?!)
Root stocks (the bottom part of the graft) are important. As many people prefer smaller trees, for semi dwarf trees ‘Rubidoux trifoliate’ were advised at one time for their dwarfing effects, but as Tsuruda says, ‘We don’t use the Rubidoux trifoliate anymore since citrus trees grow fairly slowly in Hawaii and are easily pruned’.
‘Heen naran’ is a good root stock. It’s from India, U.H. highly recommends it. It’s Good for most citrus here in Hawaii. The Botanical name for Heen Naran is Citrus lycopersicaeformis. (The fruits of this root stock are small, round, super seedy inside, and look something like a tomato, Lyco is a Latin name referring to tomatoes, as in the healthy lycopene, we’re encouraged to eat more of)
‘Some people like it it for New year’s décor, as the size and shape fits very well on the mochi stack since it’s an inch in diameter. It’s very productive and very seedy’, says Sekiya.
The U.H. has had Trees at Poamoho Experimental Station for 30 years, all grafted with the Heen Naran root stock, which seemed to survive over 30 years while some others were grafted to different root stocks.
Most Citrus of the good, preferred varieties are sweet all year not only summer. Only the pummelo seems to be sweeter in summer than in winter.
Sekiya says that Tristeza virus is what can weaken and kill Citrus trees, the root stock helps them be stronger and more resistant and vigorous. Life of a citrus is 20-30 years here in general, and with heen naran maintains good growth.
Sekiya as Chef, says he just put some finger limes on fish the other night, ‘on salmon and saba, and says that it tastes really good and adds some crunch!’.
Some people put it in beer, and it doesn’t dissolve like limes so at end you have these fish egg like things to chew on’.
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 forks (recycled from your plate lunch)
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 plants adapted to Hawaii and to Your micro-climate
Buy Keiki starter plants
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.
One of our goals for simple sustainability, is a Fruit tree in every yard, even on your apartment lanai. For years Mark and Candy Suiso and their extensive extended ohana, participated in the epic Fruit sharing event known as Mangoes at the Moana.
This was Mark’s simple message for all the ten years we staged this educational and fun, Ono for Mango fruit, local fun foodie event. Remember when every yard had at least one fruit tree, lots of vegetables, all kinds of things for the family to eat and to share?
Share with ohana, gifts for the neighbors, take a generous bag to work, etc.
Kupuna Pua Mendonca of Hawaii island shared some simple wisdom with me at an Aquaponics training conference in Hilo: survival trees to grow are avocado, niu or coconut, and `ulu or breadfruit. Those healthy fats and oils will get you through times of hardship and scarcity.
You’ve heard the scary news that we have one week of food on grocery shelves in Hawaii. Should we get cut off from imports, its handy to have some degree of self-sufficiency.
So, lets grow some survivor supplies in our gardens. I was visiting my great gardener neighbor Joan Takamori and admiring her plush and fruitful garden. She always has something to share and we learn from each other as we talk garden story.
Takamori asked me about a macadamia nut cracker. She had an abundance of macadamias from her mother’s garden.
I laughed, recounting our nutcracker as kids. It was a big pohaku in the dry stack rock wall, that was flat on top and had an almost perfectly sized mac nut puka. We would set in a nut, and hit it “just right” with a small sledge hammer. Sometimes it cracked open perfect, sometimes we smashed too hard and sometime the nut went flying!
This is how I learned (without knowing it) about scarification, a technique to help tough thick shelled seed to germinate and grow. The nuts we nicked that flew down the side sloping yard, were able to grow into seedlings.
Once when we had a cousin swap, I took a big paper bag of macadamia nuts to my Aunty Ruth in California (what a hostess gift, such an elegant bountiful paper bag!)
I told them how we cracked mac nuts at home. But no! Californians have a better plan! And my Uncle Merle was an Engineer. He had a vise in the garage. It was a big thrill for my cousins’ many friends in their neighborhood, to come over and everyone got a turn cracking a nut. (Sort of like Tom Sawyer getting all his pals to paint the fence, I later thought, with a laugh!) Akamai uncle Merle!
My Aunty then roasted the nuts in the oven and covered them with chocolate. Back home we generally just ate them raw.
I told Joan all of this and how my friend Nyna Weisser had researched nut crackers online and found a great one. Not cheap but perfect cracking. Nyna would hand us nuts and the cracker at a party. Fun for all the friends!
Joan Takamori and I also spoke about how macadamia nuts are another tree that more of us should propagate and grow.
They are a pretty tree with deep green ruffly leaves and very pretty and fragrant flower stalks. If you look closely at the flowers you will see that they look like miniatures of one of our favorite modern-day Florist ornamentals: Proteas.
Mac nuts are in the Proteaceae plant family and they are native to Australia.
I asked Joan about where her folks got their macadamia tree. She didn’t remember it being in the yard forever, and She has a theory.
‘My dad did bonsai my mom didn’t drive; she knew how to catch bus everywhere. I think she stole that tree from him and set it free in the yard’ says Takamori.
We never had it growing up. I think mom planted it, maybe about 10-15 years ago. She wanted to see it flower and fruit, although it would’ve made a kewl bonsai. Its now a very fruitful tree. I want to grow more of them, so I’ve been collecting seedlings, from under her tree to grow and share and plant in my current garden.
Mac nuts need to be scarified to germinate. The thick hard shell is nicked or filed down a bit so water can penetrate and activate the embryo of the seed to grow. Plant them in pots with quality potting mix, and water daily, until they get big enough to go into the ground.
You can also buy them already growing. Ask for them at your favorite garden shop. Or for even more fun, call ahead and visit a fruit tree specialty nursery. Buy some mac nut trees to grow and maybe another fruit tree for a friend or neighbor to grow.