Friday, September 11, 2020

Sunchokes ~ Jerusalem Artichokes

Sunchoke Flowers

In April I put 2 sunchokes in a shallow dish of water and they spouted within a few days.
I transplanted the rhizomes into a 15 gallon Smart Pot. They grew so fast
and at 2 months began flowering.

Mahalo Kathy for telling me about sunchokes!

4 ft tall at 3 months

Sunchokes are in the sunflower family and indigenous to the eastern coast of 
North America. They were grown by Native American tribes and known as sun roots. 
They can be prepared similar to potatoes - baked, boiled, fried, roasted and pickled.
However, eating sunchokes raw can cause digestive issues.

Harvested in September
at 5 months

Two sunchokes produced a prolific harvest making it a good vegetable to grow if there was ever a food shortage in Hawaii. The plants required full sun and a lot of water.

A few sunchokes still on the stalks

The stalks began to die back in August and I dug them up in September. 

I purchased the sunchoke rhizomes at Whole Foods.
They were available in March and April.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Growing Culinary Trees: Bay Laurel - Curry Leaf - Kaffir Lime

Wow! My blog just turned 10!

I still have my garden but it's not as big as it once was.
These days I have to devote more time to working due to the high cost of living on Maui.
 However, I wouldn't trade Maui for anywhere else in the world!

Curry Leaf, Bay Laurel, Kaffir Lime and Allspice

The leaves of culinary trees add dimension and flavor to many dishes.

Bay Laurel

Bay leaves are the most common culinary leaf that's used in America. Bay Laurels actually grow into a large tree but can be grown successfully in a 15 gallon or larger container. Their roots seem to be comfortable in a confined space and it doesn't affect the quality of the leaves like it does with citrus.

Lots of New Bright Green Leaves
1 month after pruning

My bay laurel has been growing in a 15 gallon container for over six years. If I don't prune it for a few months the branches will grow well over 6 ft. I keep it trimmed so it produces new fresh leaves. It's been low maintenance and heat and drought tolerant. I fertilize the container once a month and this tree is very forgiving if I forget to water it.

Bay laurels are grown from cuttings. I purchased my seedling plant from
Kula Hardware and Nursery.

Curry Leaf

18 Months From Germination

Curry leaf trees can be planted in the ground as well as a large container. I've found they outgrow a 15 gallon container in about two years and begin to produce poor quality leaves. They produce a lot of seeds in the summer and fall so it's easy to start a replacement tree.

Flowering in May

Curry leaf trees are native to southern India and they're very compatible with the Kihei climate. The trees can be grown from seed when they are very fresh. It can take them several weeks or more to germinate and they grow slowly during the first few months. They're heat tolerant but not very drought tolerant and need a lot of water during our hottest months as the tree will wilt without adequate water.

Maturing Seed Heads in July

If you don't have access to fresh seeds, it's easier to grow a Curry Leaf tree from a seedling plant. They're available on Amazon and ebay.

Seedling Plants

If you live on Maui I usually have several seedling plants that I can share if you would like to grow one. My email is in the "About My Blog" on the upper right side.

Some of Ottoleghi's popular cookbooks have recipes that include curry leaves.

Kaffir Lime

Lots of Growth
16 months from germination

Kaffir lime trees are grown for their unique leaves which are used predominately in Thai cuisine. These trees are smaller than other citrus and can be grown in a container for several years before their roots become too stressed. They aren't as heat tolerant as other citrus and struggle during our hottest months with tip burn and curled leaves.

Kaffir Lime Seedling
5 months from germination

It takes a  l o n g  time to grow a kaffir lime tree from a seed. The seeds have very low and slow germination and seedling plants grow very slowly during their first year.

I purchased a kaffir lime tree from Ki-Hana Nursery and planted it in a 30 gallon container. It produced limes during the second year. After five years the tree became too stressed to produce good quality leaves or fruit due to it being confined to a container. This seedling plant was the result of seeds I planted from one of the limes.

Kaffir lime trees need adequate water but they are more drought tolerant than a curry leaf tree.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Growing an Allspice Tree

at 15 months

Since 2013, I've tried to grow an allspice tree from local cuttings, seeds, a bare-root plant purchased on ebay and then a 4" seedling plant from Amazon. Finally I had success with the 4" seedling I planted last September but it struggled with leaf rust for over 4 months.

at 6 months

I don't know why allspice was so difficult to germinate or grow. Maybe it's sensitive to
 increasing and decreasing daylight. This was the first photo I took because it grew so
 slowly and didn't look healthy until February. Since then it has
 outgrown the leaf rust and grown exponentially.

At 6 months the leaves were large enough to cut. The scent of allspice leaves is intoxicating and it imparts a unique flavor when added to vinegar.
Citrus Fennel Pollen Pickled Cucumbers

Flowering in early June
at 21 months

A male and female tree are required to produce allspice berries. I only have one tree and it started flowering the first week of June. When the flowers opened they looked like dandelions before you blow them away but as soon as the flowers were gone no seeds had formed.

Seedling Plants on Amazon
Basics About Allspice Trees

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Growing Jicama in Kihei

The First Mexican Jicama

In January I planted Mexican Jicama seeds in a Smart Pot. It took 6 weeks for the seeds to sprout and begin to grow. Planted in a container they grew a single vine that was 1 foot long by the time the tubers began to develop.

In Kihei the best months to plant jicama are from September through January. The seeds take about a week to germinate. The tubers need at least 5 months to develop. They should be harvested prior to the summer solstice as the high summer temps damage the tubers.

Jicama grows really well at the higher elevations on Maui.

Jicama and a Purple Sweet Potato

My first jicama harvest produced a variety of sizes and shapes - pretty similar
to my sweet potato growing experiences.

Freshly harvested jicama is sweet and crisp way better than any that I've purchased at the market. My favorite way to prepare it is to peel the tubers, julienne them,
add lime juice and a gourmet salt - so ono!

The Best Jicama Recipes
15 Jicama Recipes

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are native to the tropics and need warm sunny conditions in order to grow.
In Hawaii they can be planted at any time during the year.

Sweet Potatoes Growing in Smart Pots

 It would seem that sweet potatoes should be easy to grow in Kihei but after three years I still haven't mastered them. Although they will grow during the hot summer months, my best results were from slips that were planted between October and December and harvested in the winter/spring. Sweet potatoes need at least four months to grow large enough to harvest.

Hanna Sweet Starting to Flower

Sweet potatoes are grown from slips - the vining leaves that sprout from a sweet potato that's placed in water. They can be ordered online in the late spring or you can grow them yourself. The problem I encountered when purchasing online was that there were countless names I had never encountered at the market. Unfortunately, the slips I chose produced tubers that were starchy rather than sweet and it was a waste of money.

Japanese Purple

Some varieties need a lot of space to vine and don't grow very well in containers. Because I'm growing them in 15 gallon Smart Pots, most of the sweet potatoes I've harvested weren't very large even when I let them grow for 6 months.

Stokes Purple

So far my best results were with Garnet, Japanese Purple (also called Japanese Red) and Stokes Purple. Garnet, Japanese Purple/Red can be purchased at almost any market on Maui. Stokes Purple is available from Whole Foods and Down to Earth. Both were very adaptable to containers.

The orange sweet potato I grew was one with no name from Whole Foods. I wasn't successful at growing Okinawan as they vined heavily and weren't suited to container growing. Unless you're familiar with a wider range of sweet potato varieties than are typically available on Maui, I recommend growing your own slips from your favorite varieties available locally.

Pickleworm Damage

In my garden, pickleworms, slugs and snails were the problem pests. The pickleworm is active during the summer months and they will dig under the soil and eat the tubers. The snails and slugs eat the leaves which wasn't a big problem until this year when Rat Lung disease became an issue on Maui.

Sweet potatoes when grown in the ground can be very invasive - similar to horseradish or mint. After I harvest them from the containers I don't have to replant slips as they will regrow just from the stringy roots that remain in the soil.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Growing Myoga Ginger

Myoga Ginger Buds & Shiso Leaves

A few years ago I received a package with lots of Myoga ginger rhizomes.
Mahalo Mac for the Myoga!

Most of the information I found online recommended growing myoga in partial shade. I planted the rhizomes in a 15 gallon container in an area of my yard that received diffused sunlight. They didn't grow very well and I attributed that to the heat. I managed to keep a few of the rhizomes alive for the next two years but they produced very few buds.

Beginning to Grow in Full Sun

In March of 2016 the trees were cut down and I lost my perfect place to grow shade plants. The Myoga container was now in full sun and surprisingly it thrived -
 even during the hot summer.

Myoga is deciduous perennial and begins to send up new shoots in the spring.
The shoots look just like culinary ginger shoots.

Lots of Big Leaves and Flower Buds

From July through September the plants produce flower buds.
Usually the tips of the buds are visible just above the soil surface.
 Although, sometimes you have to feel around in the soil to find them.

The First Flower Bud is Ready

If you grow Myoga I recommend checking regularly from late June for budding activity.
Some years the buds began to appear in early July. In 2019 we had cooler than normal spring weather and budding didn't start until mid-August.

Flowering Myoga

If you don't harvest the buds they open at the tips and small white flowers
will bloom just above the soil. This happened when I didn't check the plants for a few days.

In November, unlike other varieties of ginger that are grown in Hawaii, the leaves/shoots begin to die and the rhizomes are dormant until late March.

The following sites have seasonally available live plants or rhizomes. However, I don't know if they ship to Hawaii. I've also seen live plants and rhizomes for sale on Amazon and Ebay.

Daley's Fruit
Secret Garden Growers
Strictly Medicinal Seeds

Myoga is typically used in Japanese cuisine as a garnish. I usually julienne the buds and put them in a jar with rice vinegar. Flavored vinegars, like Fustini's flavored white balsamic vinegars, are great for this too - especially Spicy Korean!

Pickled Myoga
Myoga Ginger & Kabocha Fritters

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Growing Roses in Kihei

a hybrid tea
  There are countless varieties of roses that can be grown successfully in Hawaii. However, it takes some experimenting to determine the right varieties to grow in our different climates and soil conditions. Roses also grow well in containers - I recommend a 15 gallon size or larger.

Dick Clark
a grandiflora
A nice selection of bare root hybrid roses are normally available at Walmart just after New Years and again in the early summer. In the late winter or early spring Kula Hardware and Nursery brings in a huge selection of bare root roses.

Judy Garland
a floribunda

Cecile Brunner
a traditional (but not the original) Lokelani rose
Cecile Brunner is an antique climbing rose - it was hybridized in 1894.
In Hawaii the buds are used in string leis.
The Green Rose
known as Lokelau in Hawaii

This is another antique rose thought to be in cultivation since the mid 1700's. Lokelau originated in China and was introduced to the rose market in 1856. Plants were available at Lowes in Kahului during the spring. Lokelau flowers are used in haku leis.

Stainless Steel
a hybrid tea
Coffee and coffee grounds are recommended for roses - I spread them on the top of the soil. I fertilize the plants once a month with an organic all-purpose fertilizer or twice a month with fish emulsion or Grower's Secret.
Pink Promise
a hybrid tea
and...this is why they're called rose beetles
So far the rose beetle has been the only predator. They eat lace like holes in the leaves and sometimes the flowers. In my opinion, the best remedy is to keep the plants well fertilized. I sometimes spray the leaves with fish emulsion or Grower's Secret and that helps too.
Christian Dior
a hybrid tea
with severe powdery mildew damage
Another problem for roses is powdery mildew which is ever present in the air in Kihei. Christian Dior and Chrysler Imperial were the most susceptible of the varieties I've planted so far. Both were red roses that eventually succumbed to mildew damage. In contrast, the bright green branches at the top of the photo are Dick Clark - a very hardy, powdery mildew resistant hybrid.

Powdery mildew spores absorb into the leaves and are impossible to remove. It also grows on the stems and branches - this can be scrubbed off with a toothbrush and warm water. I don't recommend spraying baking soda, especially for container plants, as the salt can accumulate in the potting soil and eventually kill the plant.

Rose Growing in Hawaii
a pdf published in 1972

Roses can be planted in full sun or partial shade. In Kihei, the plants usually need daily water especially during the summer.

Recipes with Dried Rose Petals
Recipes with Fresh Rose Petals
Chicken with Rosewater
Rose Petal Jelly
Lemon Rose Raspberry Parfait
Strawberry Rose Petal Ice Cream

How to make Rose Water
Rose Water - The Benefits

Health Benefits of Rose Oil

For any culinary recipe it's safest to use roses that have been grown without pesticide. Roses obtained from a floral shop are not suitable for culinary use.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Great Product for Gardening - Organza Drawstring Bags

Black Jack Figs

I found an ideal and reusable product on Amazon for protecting fruits and small vegges from the melon - oriental - Mediterranean fruit flies, moth larvae, pepper weevils and birds.

100 bags for around $8 (price includes shipping)

The.4" x 5" bags were perfect for small to medium size figs, small peppers and tomatoes. They were easier to use than paper bags for these types of small and numerous fruit.

There are many suppliers on Amazon and prices vary constantly on these bags. I recommend searching prior to purchasing.

60 bags for around $16 (price includes shipping)

I used the 6" x 9" bags for the larger peppers, tomatoes, short varieties of cucumbers and the early stages of other developing cucurbits. When the melons and the longer cucumbers began to grow I replaced the organza bags with paper lunch bags or larger fabric shopping bags.

Although more time consuming, the organza bags worked much better than bird netting.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Growing Dwarf Red Bananas

A Dwarf Red Keiki
2 weeks from transplanting

There's a plant nursery in the islands that's wholesaling tissue culture bananas. Tissue cultures are clones that are disease free. They're marketing a good selection with some of the hard to find varieties like Ice Cream and Dwarf Red.

Kula Hardware & Nursery and the Kahului WalMart have tissue culture bananas available periodically. The keikis were really skinny and I was skeptical about them but I purchased a Dwarf Red in October of 2011.

4 months from transplanting

The plant was a little slow to grow at first but it didn't take long
to begin developing at a normal pace.

9 months

At 9 months it was taller than the Dwarf Apple was at maturity but it still had not flowered.

Just Beginning to Flower
12 months

Finally, at 1 year from transplanting the flower started to emerge. The center of the plant was over 9 ft from the ground and the top of the leaves were about 15 ft. The Dwarf Red flower was distinctively different from Dwarf Apple.

Harvest Day was Getting Close
16 months

The bananas were ready within 5 months from flowering and weighed over 50 lbs. Just as the top bananas were beginning to turn color the tree fell over due to the weight of the bananas.

Dwarf Red was 3 feet taller than Dwarf Apple, they took 6 months longer to flower but ripened a month earlier.

Transplanted 10/1/11 - Harvested 2/15/13

Oddly, the Dwarf Red variety I planted produced light yellow bananas. When peeled, they had the peachy color tone that's typical of red bananas and they were so ono!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Growing Buckwheat in Kihei

Buckwheat is a heat tolerant seed crop that can be planted year round in Kihei.

Although buckwheat is typically planted as a cover crop
 it can be grown just for it's lovely flowers.

Tokyo Buchwheat
Harvested at 10 weeks

Buckwheat is not a grain but a seed that's often used as a gluten free substitute for grain. In contrast to wheat and sesame, buckwheat seeds were easy to liberate from the plants. In a world of changing climate patterns and food crisis predictions, these types of crops are of particular interest to me. In the event of food shortages, we could grow buckwheat in Kihei even during the hot summer months.

Buckwheat Cover Crop
3 weeks

5 weeks

I planted half of a 55 sf garden bed in an organic, generic unhulled buckwheat and the other half with corn. Buckwheat seeds are broadcast over the soil and raked in or covered with a thin layer of soil.

The organic unhulled buckwheat that's sold in the bulk section of the natural food stores will sprout and can be planted as a cover crop. If your not planting buckwheat as an heirloom food crop, purchasing organic generic seed in bulk is more economical than purchasing from seed dealers. If you're planting buckwheat as a grain crop, heirloom seeds are available from Sustainable Seed Company.

In Japan, buckwheat soba noodles are traditionally eaten on New Years day. In raw cuisine, sprouted hulled buckwheat can be made into raw crackers, granola bars and mixed with flax seeds to make mini-pizza crusts or tortillas. Unhulled buckwheat can be sprouted in soil or a soil-less medium, similar to the way wheatgrass is grown, and eaten as a salad green. Organic buckwheat hulls are used to fill pillows and zafu cushions.