A Kihei Garden Newsletter for March

The beginning of March is the end of our cooler weather. There are still lots of veggies that can be planted this month. If you're thinking of planting tomatoes, I recommend planting cherry, grape or the small plums early in the month so they're ready to harvest before our hottest weather.

Seeds to plant in March:
Beans - Asian & Southwestern
Cilantro (plant in partial shade)
Fennel (harvest at 2 months)
Ginger - Culinary
Lemongrass - Culinary
Onions - Bunching (white)
Roselle Hibiscus
Winter Squash

Roselle Hibiscus
Roselle is easy to grow in Kihei. I think the best months to plant seeds are March and April as the plants respond favorably to the increasing daylight of spring and are less affected by powdery mildew. Roselle grows well in our acidic soil and is tolerant of root knot nematodes. Plants should be spaced 5 ft apart.

Asian & Southwestern Beans
Chinese Long beans - also known as Asparagus beans - can be planted in March and April. They're great as green beans when harvested pencil thin.

I've grown a number of high and low desert southwestern beans that grew well when planted in March. My favorites were Hopi Black, Hopi Yellow and Rio Bavispe Pinto. They were ready to harvest as shell beans in 60 to 70 days. These can be ordered from Native Seeds.

Culinary Ginger
March and April are the recommended months to plant Culinary Ginger - it's so easy to grow. If you've never grown ginger and would like more info, check out my post on Culinary Ginger.

When seed ginger is planted in March or April, new ginger is ready to harvest at the beginning or end of September. Turmeric is grown in the same way.

Destructive Bugs and Larvae
In my garden, cabbageworms begin to diminish at the end of February. Normally, I get a short reprieve from the larvae misery. Then the next wave appears in mid-April - melon and oriental fruit fly larvae, followed by pickleworms in early May.

Destructive bugs can ruin a garden in a short period of time. If you're growing any cucurbits, tomatoes or tomatillos I highly recommend preparing now by hanging melon and oriental fruit fly traps around your garden as they do help to control the fruit fly population. See my post on Winter Squash for more information about the fruit flies.

Pickleworms attack the cucurbits and I find the best defense is to cover the newly pollinated females with a paper lunch bag. If or when the fruit out-grow the paper bag I replace it with fabric a shopping bag. Cucumbers and zucchini should be kept covered until harvest. Winter squash and melons can be left uncovered after their skins begin to harden.

April has been the month the cucumber beetles begin mating in my neighborhood. They go for the physalis family of plants - ground cherries, poha berries and tomatillos. They deposit eggs on the undersides of the leaves and the larvae will demolish the plants in a short time. So far, the cucumber beetles haven't attacked any other plant species in my garden. The best defense I've found is to plant seeds from the physalis family during the fall so they'll finish producing prior to April. For more information see my post on Cucumber Beetles.