Thursday, November 28, 2013

Growing Roses in Kihei


Pink Promise
a long stem tea rose
  
Roses are acid loving plants and grow well in the acidic Hawaiian soil. They can also be grown in a 10 gallon or larger container. I was elated to discover that roses will grow in Kihei but the intense sun forces the buds to open prematurely.

If you live in the lower elevations, I recommend cutting the flowers in the morning when they're budding. When placed in a vase of water and out of direct sunlight they'll open gradually over a few days.

All is not lost when they do open as the petals can be made into rosewater or rose jelly. And, they can be dried and used as a culinary ingredient. Fragrant varieties with bright colored petals produce the best results.

Many unique varieties of hybrid roses are available in the spring at Kula Hardware and Nursery. They have a catalog to browse to reserve a particular variety. A nice selection of roses are available at Walmart just after New Years.

Coffee grounds are recommended for roses - I spread them on the top of the soil a few times per month. I fertilize the rose plants bi-weekly with fish emulsion but an organic all-purpose fertilizer will work just as well.

Rose Beetle Damage

So far the rose beetle has been their only predator. The beetles don't harm the roses but they eat lace like holes in the leaves. I find the best remedy for this is to keep the plants well fertilized and to spray the leaves with fish emulsion whenever I fertilize them.

How to Grow Roses from Cuttings

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

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.

Rose Water
 3 cups fresh fragrant rose petals
1 quart of spring water, filtered water or mineral water

Put the petals into a 2 quart pot
Pour the water over the petals and cover
Simmer until half the liquid has evaporated
Let it cool
Strain the liquid into a sterile glass bottle or jar
Store in the refrigerator

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Growing Dessert Grapes in Kihei


The 1st Flame Grapes

Wine grapes are grown Upcountry but I don't know if grapes have been grown successfully anywhere else on Maui. Flame and Thompson grapes are grown in the low desert areas of Arizona and California and require a long hot summer. I thought they would be ideal grapes to trial in Kihei.

Grape, fig, pomegranate and olive trees are noted to require chill hours. I've been successful growing fig and pomegranate trees in Kihei where we have no chill hours but olive trees do require them in order to fruit. I won't know until next spring if chill hours are also required for grapes.

A budding grape cluster 4 weeks from transplanting.

In February, my order of bare-root trees arrived from Bay Laurel Nursery. Bay Laurel has a good selection of bare-root plants, including grapes. I purchased a Flame grape and planted it in a large container in early February. In 2 weeks the plant started to show signs of life and within 4 weeks it produced the first grape cluster.

Although I considered planting in the ground, I decided to plant in a 30 gallon container as I didn't want to construct a grape fence or trellis until I determined that grapes really could be grown in Kihei.

I put the container at the end of an 18 ft x 5 ft wire fence that I use for tomatoes. Grape plants vine vigorously. There are lots of YouTube videos on how to construct a basic grape fence and the techniques for training the vines for best fruit production.

What's eating the grape leaves?

I haven't figured out what insect has been eating the grape leaves at night. I've gone out with a flashlight a few times but the bugs fly off before I can ID them. I have lots of rose beetles everywhere - I suspect they're responsible. No insects bothered the fruit.but I recommend covering the grapes when they get close to ripening as they can be damaged by birds. 

Grape leaves are used in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Some pickling recipes call for grape leaves.
How to Preserve Grape Leaves
 
From a bud to a cluster of ripe grapes in 75 days.

The individual grapes didn't grow as large as the Flame grapes at the market. From my research into growing grapes in a home garden, that seems to be normal.

In April, I found baby Flame and Thompson grape plants at Wal-Mart for $5. That's the first time I've seen grape plants at any of the Kahului garden centers. Although I did find out that Kula Hardware has grape plants available during the spring. They keep a call list and there's no obligation to purchase if you put your name on the list.

Vegetables & Small Fruits in the Tropics A-J
(Scroll down to "Grapes In Warmer Climates")

Thompson
3 months from pruning

In November, after reading the information about growing "Grapes In Warmer Climates", I decided to hard prune the Flame and Thompson plants. Within a few weeks they were producing leaf buds..In late December the Thompson grape plant was growing more vigorously than the Flame and had produced 3 baby grape clusters.

By March, the plant had not produced any additional buds so after I harvested the grapes I pruned the plant back again.

3 Thompson Grape Clusters

The Thompson grape was larger than Flame but the clusters were smaller. Thompson needed close to 90 days to ripen.

Both grape plants grew okay in a container for about a year and produced fruit one time. But growing Flame and Thompson in containers isn't realistic. Their root systems are wild and aggressive and they need to be planted in the ground.

Wine grapes have been grown successfully at sea level in an experimental garden at the Natural Energy Lab in Kona using ColdAg technology. ColdAg involves a closed pipe system buried beneath the soil that circulates cold deep ocean water. The pipes chill the soil to 45 degrees and moisture from the air condenses into the soil.

If the soil can be cooled and regulated with technology, we could grow just about any fruit tree or vegetable year round in Kihei. This technology is fascinating and there are other systems being developed that don't require access to ocean water. More info about ColdAg can be found here:
ColdAg - DOW (Deep Ocean Water) Technology


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Growing Heirloom Cauliflower


Almost 5 months

When I grew cauliflower in 2009 I planted seeds in late October. The plants didn't flower and as is typical of brassicas they began to succumb to heat stress due to the rising temps in March. I then read that cauliflower needs a period of 60 degree weather to produce a flower. In Kihei, night-time temps during late January to early February are in the 60 to 65F range but the days are usually in the 80s.

Romanesco Italia, Precoce di Toscana and Violetta Italia

Then I learned that cauliflower could be grown in Maui Meadows. After growing cauliflower again I've concluded that the planting date is more critical than with other brassicas.

3 months

Most varieties of broccoli are ready to harvest in just over 3 months. Cauliflower and Romanesco need 4 to 5 months and ideally the flower should develop during our coolest weather - mid-January through mid-February. I usually start the brassicas in mid to late October but cauliflower should be started in late September. In moderate 4 season climates, cauliflower is predominately planted in August so the flower will develop during cooler weather.

Sicilia Violettto and Precose di Toscano
3.5 months

Cauliflowers are big plants and as they grow larger they need a lot of water especially in Kihei. The plants grow well in the large 10 gallon size self-watering containers available at Walmart. Self-watering containers can also be purchased with free shipping on Amazon. I recommend blocking the reservoir - I use a rolled up plastic bag - as the water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Cauliflower needs a generous amount of an organic all-purpose fertilizer once per month. 

Precose Tuscana
Just starting to flower - 4 months

At 4 months the newly emerging leaves of Precose Tuscana (Early Tuscan) 
began to twist and curl. Within two weeks a small creamy white flower started to develop. Some varieties of cauliflower are self-blanching and form these protective leaves. Once the flower begins to form it takes 2 weeks for the head to grow large enough to harvest.

After 5 months Violetta Italia didn't form a head - it may be too warm to grow it here.

Sicilia Violetto
Just starting to flower - almost 4 months

Sicilia Violetto formed vertical leaves rather than curled. They were long enough to tie a string around to protect the flower from the sun.

Sicilia Violetto
4 months

Sicilia was the earliest cauliflower I've grown. The flower above formed between 12/26/13 and 1/11/14 during a period of cool and windy weather when our nights in Maui Meadows were in the low 60's. It had a slight purple blush but it didn't turn purple.


4 months

Depending on the source, Romanesco is classified as a broccoli or a cauliflower. In my opinion it's most similar to cauliflower. I think it may be too warm in Kihei to grow decent Romanesco. Although my plants formed flower heads they didn't produce the bright green fractal flower typically seen in seed catalog photos. Instead they were small, brownish and distorted. And, Romanesco Italia didn't form protective leaves or long enough leaves around the flower to tie together.

The major pest that attacks the brassicas is the cabbageworm. I keep the cauliflower under a row cover with the cabbage for the first two months or until they're too large to contain. Last year they were hardy enough at 2 months to grow uncovered and withstand moderate cabbageworm damage. This year they were severely damaged by cabbageworms and I'll have to make individual tulle tents for them next year.  Slugs and snails also eat cauliflower leaves - I use a product for organic gardens to control them.

I planted cauliflower in the fall of 2009, 2012 and 2013. The white varieties appear to grow okay as long as they're planted in the early fall. The flower heads aren't as large and picture perfect as those at the market probably due to our intense sun and high day-time temps. The purple varieties and the Romanescos appear to need temperatures that are cooler than we have in Kihei.

have large selections of cauliflower seeds.