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.
 
So far my best results were with Japanese Purple (also called Japanese Red). They can be purchased almost anywhere on Maui. They seem to be very adaptable to containers. The orange sweet potato I grew was one with no name from Whole Foods. I haven't been successful growing Garnet - the Thanksgiving favorite - I'm not sure why I can't get them to grow but I'll keep trying.

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



August
Myoga Ginger Buds & Shiso Leaves
 
A few years ago I received a package with lots of Myoga ginger rhizomes -
mahalo Mac for the Myoga!

I planted the rhizomes in a 15 gallon container in an area of my yard that received only 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. 
 
May
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 summer.

Myoga is a perennial and begins to send up new shoots around the spring equinox.
The shoots look just like culinary ginger shoots.
 
August
Lots of Big Leaves and Now the Buds are Forming
 
From late July through September the plants produce flower buds. Usually the tips of the buds are visible just above the surface of the soil. However, sometimes you have to feel around in the soil in order to find them. If you grow Myoga I recommend checking daily from late July through September for buds that are ready to harvest.
 
September
Myoga Flowers

If you don't harvest the buds they will open at the tips and small white flowers will bloom just above the soil surface. Then in November the leaves/shoots begin to die and the rhizomes are dormant until March.

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.

Pickled Myoga 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Growing Roses in Kihei

 
Neptune
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.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm Moving!



In my blog I've posted everything I've learned about growing a garden in the Keonekai area of Kihei. All of the growing posts are indexed on the far right side-bar under
Growing Tips

I'm moving to a higher elevation and although I'll still have a garden, the growing conditions will be a little different from gardening at sea level. I may not be adding any new growing posts but I will update my posts when I have additional information to share.

I'll finish adding the monthly newsletters for the year and keep all of the newsletters accessible at the top of the side-bar.

I've been working on converting my blog to an e-book and I'm thinking of uploading it on Amazon Kindle as a free download. Kindle books can be read on any computer - it just requires downloading a free program. When my e-book is available I'll post an update.

I will continue to post about my favorite seeds and recipes on my other blog:

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.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hot Weather Micro-Greens


An Assortment of Micro-Greens

Normally I don't plant salad greens from May until October as they don't tolerate the 85+ degree temps and the intense summer sun. The hot sun stresses the seedlings and that attracts white flies and leaf miners that suck the pigment from the leaves. Also, many salad greens bolt early or become bitter when grown in the heat.

This summer I trialed some of my more heat tolerant salad green seeds, sown densely as micro-greens, and planted in diffused light conditions. They had a few hours of sun in the early morning, diffused light and shade the remainder of the day. Surprisingly, some of the seeds I trialed grew well and weren't bitter when harvested as baby greens.

Green Romaine

Seeds that grew well as micro-greens during the summer
in diffused light conditions:
Arugula
Celery
Chard
Green Romaine
Komatsuma
Mizuna
Osaka Purple Mustard
Tango Oakleaf
Tatsoi

Any type of celery works as a micro-green - it isn't bitter in the seedling and early stages of growth. Celery takes 2 to 3 weeks to germinate and is very tiny at first. I planted it separately from the other greens.

The chard I planted was Flamingo - a small colorful heat tolerant variety.

I grew the greens in containers under a trellis that covers the lanai on the east side of my house. I mixed Black Gold Earthworm Castings, OMRI azomite and green sand into the potting soil and watered predominately in the evening to cool the soil lower at night. I sowed seeds as a mix and also in sections as some grow faster then others. The greens had minimal insect damage and in 3 weeks they were large enough to cut for salads.

As I trial more salad green seeds through the summer I'll update this seed list.

Beautiful salads featuring micro-greens:
A New Meaning to "Garden Variety"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Growing Dwarf Apple Bananas


Just Harvested

The first Dwarf Apple banana I attempted to grow was a young plant from Plant It Hawaii that I purchased at one of the Kahului garden centers. I planted it in a 30 gallon container - don't believe anyone if they tell you a Dwarf Apple banana plant can be grown in a container. It didn't take long for the roots to outgrow the cramped space and the banana plant to begin to die. But, it produced a keiki or baby plant and I cut down the parent and transplanted the banana keiki into the ground.

At 2 weeks from transplanting.

On August 4th, 2011, I planted the keiki in a hole amended with a lot of compost and a generous amount of an organic all-purpose fertilizer. 

At 2 months from transplanting the plant was growing vigorously.

It doesn't take long for a small banana plant to produce corms. If they aren't removed the planting area will become seriously over-grown with keiki banana plants before the parent plant produces any fruit.

I use a pic-ax to remove the corms unless I'm going to transplant one. I like to transplant them into a pre-dug area rather then let them grow next to the parent plant. From my experience, they're rooted better into the ground. If a banana plant isn't properly anchored it can blow over in a strong gust of wind or fall to the ground due to the weight of the bananas.

At 6 months from transplanting, the flower stalk started to emerge.

When the flower stalk began to emerge, the banana plant was over 7 ft tall at the center and the tops of the leaves were over 11 ft from the ground. No wonder it couldn't be contained! Dwarf Apple Banana plants are a lot shorter than the regular bananas like Cavendish.

At 7 months the baby bananas were developing.

At 11 months the bananas were getting heavy but the tree
appeared to be well rooted in the ground.

What I especially like about growing dwarf bananas is that everything about them is manageable. I don't have to recruit anyone to help me cut down the banana stalk or to cut down a 20 ft tall plant after the bananas are harvested. A bunch of Cavendish bananas can weigh 50 lbs and usually requires a ladder in order to cut them down. I didn't weight the Dwarf Apple bunch after I cut it but I would guess the weight to be around 25 lbs.

And on July 28th, 2012, almost 1 year from transplanting, the top bananas began to turn yellow - the bananas were ready to harvest.

I decided to plant dwarf varieties of bananas because my patch of Cavendish bananas were way too tall and blocking my neighbors view. I cut them down and dug them out twice but they grew back. Eventually I had to hire a landscape person to dig them out completely. Bananas should be managed and maintained or they become over-grown and invasive like ginger.

Bananas are bothered by several pests and diseases. Aphids and white flies go for the older leaves. I hose the under sides of the lower leaves with water to remove as many aphids as I can and I cut the leaves off as they get older. There's an aphid that causes "banana bunchy top virus". So far, none of the banana plants I've grown over the last 6 years have had this disease. If my plants were to contact this virus I would dig the infected plants out completely but I would not use the recommended toxic herbicides.

There are differing opinions about fertilizing bananas. I've been giving the plants a generous amount of an organic all-purpose fertilizer and compost once a month. Supposedly, fertilizer encourages the plants to grow taller. In my opinion, the quality of the fruit improves when the plants are well watered and well fertilized.

When the bananas are harvested the hands tend to ripen all at once. There are several ways to preserve a banana harvest. I freeze ripe peeled bananas for making smoothies and banana bread or slice them vertically and dehydrate them. Another way to use perfectly ripe, unpeeled bananas is to grill them and then slit the husk or skin open vertically on one side and eat the cooked fruit from the husk with a spoon. Grilled bananas are so ono especially over vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Growing a Papaya Tree From a Seed


From a Seed to a Lusciously Ripe Papaya

In July of 2011, I planted seeds from an organic Maui Sunrise papaya. Sunrise is also known as Strawberry papaya. It took over 4 weeks for the seeds to sprout and they grew very slowly over the next month.

At 3 Months - Sunrise Papaya Seedlings

At 3 months the seedlings were large enough to transplant into a garden bed.

Solo and Sunrise are the most commonly grown papayas on Maui. Their seeds predominately germinate hermaphrodite plants which are self-fertile.

The following link is a pdf with photos for identifying the sex of the papaya flowers:
Growing Papayas in Hawaii

At 7 Months - Hermaphrodite Flowers Began to Bloom

The seedling grew rapidly and the tree began to flower when it reached 5 feet tall. The first flowers appeared around 7 months (4 months from transplanting). Hermaphrodite flowers are cylindrical.

At 8 Months - The First Fruit Began to Grow

I don't recommend using seeds from Big Island or Oahu grown papayas as GMO papayas are aggressively being grown there. Cross pollination has been a significant problem for the non-GMO and organic farmers - organic papayas from the Big Island and Oahu could be contaminated.

Solo and Sunrise papaya trees should be planted in the ground as their root systems are too large and aggressive to be contained in a pot. Like other tropical fruit trees and plants, papaya grow very well in our acidic soil.

At 9 Months - A Tree Full of Developing Fruit

Several pests and diseases can affect papaya trees - the most common problem in Kihei is the nematode. Nematodes can destroy the root system of a papaya tree in a short period of time. French varieties of marigolds are suppose to deter the nematodes. I planted a mix of French marigold seeds in my garden bed and I also mixed ground eggshells into the soil. Finely ground eggshells reduce the population of rose beetles and ants but I don't know if they'll actually work for controlling nematodes.

At 11 Months - The First Ripening Fruit

Birds can damage the ripening fruit. The easiest remedy is to harvest the fruit when they just start to turn color and let them ripen in a protected area or indoors. In some areas of Maui the oriental fruit flies will attack ripening papayas. Although oriental fruit flies are found in Kihei, the population has been low in my garden.

Papaya ring spot (a mosaic virus) has been a problem on the Big Island and Oahu and that's why they have GMO papayas being grown there. Maui is considered ring spot virus free, another good reason to use papaya seeds from a Maui grown papaya.

Before I planted, I amended the garden bed with lots of compost. I added additional compost and a generous amount of an organic all-purpose fertilizer once a month. Some sources note not to over water papaya trees but it's hot in Kihei and I watered most every day. When transplanted, the papaya seedlings should be spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Solo and Sunrise are the most common papayas grown in Hawaii but there are other varieties of seeds sold online. Any variety that produces hermaphrodite flowers should grow well in our climate. If it produces male and female plants, I recommend finding out if the species of insect needed to pollinate the flowers is common in the area and elevation where your papaya trees will be growing.

Hawaiian Papaya Salsa
Thai Green Papaya Salad
Papaya Raspberry Smoothie

Papaya seeds online
Aloha Seed & Herb