Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Moving Back to Keonekai

Sadly, the cute cottage I was renting in Maui Meadows was sold in November of 2021.

Peppers & Tomatoes Growing in Containers

For 9 years, I was so lucky to have a lot of space to garden. I trialed numerous varieties of veggies and I was able to get garlic to grow successfully.

Squash & Tomatoes Growing in a Garden Bed

Some of the lava rocks in this border were over 12" high.

The Garden Bed in December of 2021
Covered in some places with more than 12 inches of mud.

On December 4th, a few days after I moved, there was a torrential rainstorm on Maui. A massive watershed came down the mountain into Maui Meadows. Many homes sustained damages from the rivers of water and mudslides. According to my neighbors, it was pretty scary that night as there was no escape route to get out. Mudslides crossed the property where I had been living and my garden bed was basically gone. Good thing I had to move by November 30th!

There has been a huge wave of migration into Maui since March of 2021. Rents and housing prices have skyrocketed and rentals are in very short supply. It's funny but the only rental I could find in November was in Keonekai. That's where I lived and started this garden blog prior to moving to Maui Meadows.

 Unfortunately, I only have a gardening space to the right of my front door. Now that I've grown garlic successfully for 8 years, maybe I can get it to grow near sea level. I'll continue to update my blog posts with any new information or photos.

Food and fertilizer shortages are a serious concern worldwide for 2022. I encourage anyone that can to plant some veggies. See my previous posts from April 2022 for suggestions on what to grow if we encounter a food crisis on Maui.

My Favorite Fertilizer

Genius Eggshell Hack for Gardening

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Best Vegetables to Grow in a Food Crisis - Eggplant

In the 2000's food sustainability on Maui was a hot topic. We were told that Maui 
had at best 7 days of food on island. Right now we aren't experiencing a food shortage on Maui - just rapidly rising inflation affecting food affordability.


Eggplant is one of the most versatile veggies. There are so many ways to prepare it and it can even be dehydrated to store for future use. Numerous recipes for eggplant can be found online or in Mediterranean cuisine cookbooks like the Ottolenghi series.

Eggplant is easy to grow but does need adequate sunlight, water and fertilizer. Most varieties don't tolerate the rising temps of spring/summer and the intense sun. If you're planting now, I recommend the Japanese Long Eggplant that's available as a seedling plant at the box stores.

Japanese Long Eggplant
2 months from transplanting

I've grown many different eggplant varieties successfully from seeds but I've found this one to be the most heat/hot sun tolerant of any I've grown in Kihei. It's labeled "Japanese Long Eggplant" and I don't know what it's actual seed name or origin is. 

Eggplant is one of the veggies that does well in our Kihei soil and it can also be grown in a 15 gallon or larger container. Here is a link to my post with more info.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Best Vegetables to Grow in a Food Crisis - Easy Salad Greens


If you have little to no space, and not much money to spare, here's a link to a very low cost and simple method for growing salad greens.

An Inexpensive Hydroponic Method for Growing Salad Greens 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Best Vegetables to Grow in a Food Crisis - Sweet Potatoes

Food shortages are expected to begin impacting the US this summer. I encourage anyone 
who has some space to at least have a small container garden or even plant some 
edible veggies interspersed in your landscaping beds where they might not be 
noticeable if you have a strict homeowners association.

Japanese Red or Purple Sweet Potatoes
(Creamy white inside)

Sweet potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow at the lower elevations. However, I don't know how they grow Upcountry. They do need adequate water but are forgiving if they experience a dry spell due to lack of county water, rainfall or not having time to water.

Japanese Red and Garnet Starts
(aka slips)

One store bought sweet potato, placed in a container half filled with water, will produce
a lot of plant starts in a short period of time.

Growing in 15 Gallon Fabric Pots

I've only grown sweet potatoes in containers and the recommendations in my sweet potato posts are for container growing. Use at least a 15 gallon capacity pot. I prefer fabric pots which are widely available now at very affordable prices. It's easier to reach into the potting soil in a fabric pot to find the tubers that are large enough to eat.
Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes
(Purple inside)

I've had the best results with the variety known as Japanese Red or Japanese Purple.
They're available in markets just about everywhere. They're reddish purple on the outside and creamy white inside.

Stokes Purple is my second best recommendation. Second only because they have a limited distribution on Maui but can usually be found at Down to Earth, Whole Foods and probably other natural food stores. Sometimes they're just labeled as "Purple Sweet Potatoes".
They're purple inside and out.

Young Sweet Potato Leaves are Edible

In a food crisis it's best to give priority to calorie dense veggies unless you have a lot of growing space and adequate water. One of the very cool things about sweet potato plants is the young leaves are edible and can be used as a salad or cooked green.

There's also a looming fertilizer crisis. If that should impact Maui I have a few recommendations to add nutrients to the soil. If you cook fish/soft shellfish, save 
the skins/shells and add them directly into the containers or compost them in 
a separate container with some potting soil. If you poach or boil fish/shellfish 
in water you can use the water for your plants.

If you eat eggs, save the shells. When dry they can be crushed and added to the potting soil.
The shells can be soaked in water for a few days and then used to water plants.

For more specific growing information check out my post about sweet potatoes.

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 three 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.

Some Varieties Produce Flowers

Young sweet potato leaves are edible and can be used like spinach.

Japanese Red/Purple & Garnet Starts
(aka slips)

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.

I use a paring knife and dig into the sweet potato just below the slip to remove it. You can see the scars on the garnet sweet potato in the above photo where the slips were removed. Then I put the slip directly into the jar of water and let it develop some roots.

Just Planted Garnet Slips

As soon as roots develop, I plant the slips into the potting soil. I normally plant 3 to 4 
slips in a 15 gallon container.

Japanese Red/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 Red (also called Japanese Purple) and Stokes Purple. Garnet, Japanese Red/Purple 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, in the top photo, was one with no name from Whole Foods. I wasn't successful at growing Hanna Sweet or 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.

How to Plant Myoga Ginger

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.

Johann's Garden

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