Category Archives: Passion Fruit

Lessons from Lava

The official theme of this blog is ” homesteading, food, travel, and philosophy from the side of a volcano in rural Hawai`i.” So far, I’ve done mostly the first three, but very little of the fourth – philosophy. I could elaborate philosophically on many topics, and over the next few months, bear with me as do more of that.

The official title of this blog is “Lava to Lilikoi,” and that is a great deal like saying “how to make lemonade out of lemons.” In other words, when given an acre of lava, how do you produce lilikoi (our name for passion fruit) in abundance?

The drought has discouraged me from doing a lot of gardening, although I did plant 45 garlic cloves this week! They don’t like a lot of water, so this area should be perfect for them. I bought a pound of California softneck garlic from an heirloom seed company, since most stores sell garlic that is treated to prevent it from sprouting. (I understand that health food stores might have organic non-treated garlic, however.)

The opening photo shows some of these garlic bulbs, plus a few miniature pumpkins from the grocery store, and a couple of even tinier acorn squash that never did grow big enough to eat!

One of the many lessons of gardening I have learned has been not to plant anything that requires plenty of water, plenty of rich soil, or a different climate.

For example, my geraniums have taken over various spots of my acre, and they add a great deal of color to an otherwise gray landscape. Herbs in pots are growing nicely. I have been able to get some delicious beets and arugula occasionally. My donkey tails seem to do well. Palms that don’t require a lot of water are doing okay. Various flowering shrubs have done fine (when the Mouflon sheep don’t eat them). Other veggies did quite well when we had regular rains, or when the birds didn’t eat them.

Please don’t mistake this for complaining! I’m just stating facts about my own particular situation. Everyone in my garden club seems to be suffering from the drought, too.

So on this weekend after Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for the beautiful ancient ohia trees scattered around my acre, for the hens that give me delicious fresh eggs, for the splashes of magenta, purple, orange, blue, red, pink , white and yellow that adorn my lava “lawn,” for a year-round temperature that allows me to be free from snow and ice. Living and gardening on lava makes me thankful for every single sprout!

I’m also grateful for my friends, whether here or on the mainland, who keep in touch; for my students who challenge me, and who keep my mind active and alert; for good health that permits me to continue gardening and teaching; and for my family members who make me proud to be their mama, grandma, and great-grandma, sister, cousin and aunt!

Finally, I’m grateful for my little Katrina, a sweet and photogenic joy in my life! Doesn’t she look pretty in blue?

A hui hou!

Lilikoi and Aquaponics

 

I’ve complained about the lack of lilikoi on my pathetic vines. They are starting to take off a little more and someday I’ll have my own lilikoi. In the meantime, Alexis, one of my readers, felt sorry for me and offered lilikoi from her yard. It turned out to be a great way to show how they grow to readers who don’t know about lilikoi

 

I’ve written about lilikoi in several posts. Check out the categories on the side under “FRUIT” and you’ll find both “lilikoi” and “passion fruit” (they are one and the same). The opening photo and the one below are shots of just a few of the lilikoi I brought back.

 

Chris took me on a hike down a trail on the back of their property where we gathered more lilikoi. He let me take pictures of the few left on the vines.

 

Vines grow so high up into the trees that we usually have to wait for the top ones to drop to the ground. Even when they dry up and become a wrinkled brown, the insides are still delicious.

 

Just before I left, Chris ran across the street to gather more lilikoi. The vines grow up into whatever tree they are near.

 

When a lilikoi is cut open, all you need to do is scoop out the insides with a spoon and eat (seeds and all). It is a sweet/tart flavor and the seeds have a gelatinous quality that makes them easy to eat. It’s making my mouth water to write this.

 

I dumped lilikoi into my sink twice, scooping out the insides and putting them into a colander to let the juice flow through overnight.

 

Another reader said she always put her lilikoi insides into a blender to separate seeds from pulp. I’d never tried that, but the next morning, I took the pulp that had remained in the colander, put it in the blender and zipped it up for a few seconds. Sure enough, it got out even more juice. So the combination of draining and blending might work.

BONUS: I’ve said so many times that writing a blog is so educational. I had known about lilikoi, but on this excursion, I learned about something else that I intend to learn more about. Chris has started a project of aquaponics.

He starts with a tank of tilapia, a fish that’s widely used in aquaculture or aquaponics.

 

This water containing nutrients (i.e., fish poop) from the tank is routed to another tank for lettuce. He took sheets of Styrofoam, cut a hole and inserted the pots.

 

He said, “Get your camera ready,” and he lifted up one of the sheets so I could take a picture of the root system.

 

The water from the lettuce is circulated back into the fish tank. When he gets ready to harvest, he simply lifts out the Styrofoam sheets to work on them in the house. Voila! You have locally grown organic veggies.

Thank you both, Chris and Alexis, for your lilikoi and a peek at your new project! This is definitely something I’d like to learn more about and investigate how it would work on my acre.

A hui hou!

Lava Homestead Update

 

I’ve thought of the succulents and snapdragons that are all over this acre as really nothing more than weeds. Why? Because I didn’t plant them, they sprout up unbidden, then grow without anyone’s help, and they aren’t something I can eat. But I realized just how much they add to my landscape when I caught this shot of them. I think you’ll agree they are beautiful.

As we move into the last month of the year, I thought I would catch you up on what’s happening in my lava garden. It’s been about two months since my last update.

One of the most exciting changes lately has been my coffee berries – they are turning red! I may only get enough out of this first crop to make a small pot of coffee, of course. But I’m sure it will be the tastiest cup of coffee I’ve ever had.

 

I picked the ones that were ripe enough. Now I need to get the pulp off the beans, dry them, roast them, grind them, and drink!

 

The red mustards I planted several weeks ago are beginning to look like something edible.

 

I’ve had trouble keeping my cat (Kaimana) out of my raised beds, so there are large patches where nothing is coming up. He likes to scratch around and make himself comfortable.

Is that pot big enough to sleep in?Is that pot big enough to sleep in?

 

At the same time that I planted the red mustard seeds, I also put in another batch of beets. They will give me several good meals this winter.

 

With the help of one of my students, I planted some ginger cuttings she had brought. It took them a long time to root, but now they are showing good growth and soon I will transplant them to a permanent location.

 

It’s been almost a year since I planted this red scarlet chard, and it’s still going strong. I eat off of it occasionally, stir-frying it in olive oil with lots of garlic. When the leaves are still young and small, I sometimes cut it up and put it into a salad without cooking it.

 

Like the chard, my arugula plants just keep producing. I love fresh arugula salads. A friend said, “A little arugula goes a long way,” but I like the spicy bitterness more than most folks do.

 

I’m not sure if these papaya plants are going to do much at this elevation, but I keep nursing them along. They were also a gift during this past summer.

 

My garden club has a plant gift exchange at Christmas. The gift I received last year was this pikake plant, now full of buds and blooms.

 

I had a lovely gardenia bush that suffered during the worst of the sulfur dioxide fumes from the volcano. Today, it is growing back and producing a few buds.

 

I put out a bunch of cuttings of a purple-flowered bush (don’t know the name of it), and every one of them is showing great signs of growth. When it finally blooms, I’ll find out what it is and post more pictures. At this point, it’s great fun to see something grow from a bare stem stuck in the soil.

 

I have what I call a smoky bush (don’t know the real name of that, either) that is showing leaves from another piece of twig put in the ground. These two plants (red and purple) seem to take off right away with a little soil and water.

 

Still another plant that seems to root and grow profusely without much care is this magenta geranium. I’d put in just a couple of small cuttings from a friend, and now they are filling in the blank spots, giving color to an otherwise gray landscape.

 

The lilikoi plants that grow against my shed were eaten back by fuzzy black caterpillars. Now they are showing new growth. Unless someone gives me a bunch of lilikoi, I won’t be making more lilikoi butter this year!

 

The brugmansia were in need of some drastic cutting back. Once I did that, they started sprouting all sorts of new leaves and they are looking twice as healthy.

 

The poinsettias take over the island at this time of year. Soon I’ll have a chance to get more pictures of those. When they are mingled in with other colors, and especially the white flowering shrubs, they are a breathtaking sight. Some of the “Snow on the Mountain” are blooming on my property.

This plant is sometimes called Snow-on-the-Mountain, and is closely related to poinsettia, crotons, and the other members of the Euphorbia plant family. It is a native to the Pacific Islands. See the full article here.

 

We’ve had little bits of rain here and there, not enough to overflow the tank, but to keep it at a decent level. That’s a critical element in the grand scheme of life here on my little homestead. If it keeps up like that over the winter months, I’ll be in good shape. At least we are not worried about snow storms here!

A hui hou!

Gallimaufry

 

Before you go scrambling for your dictionary, I’ll save you the trouble. The word “gallimaufry” originally came from the French and it was a hash made out of meat scraps. So that’s what today’s post is going to be – sort of a hash of miscellaneous items that I find interesting.

After my post on watermelons and blueberries, I got a note from my Cuz’n Don, telling me about his own watermelon crop. On a visit to their daughter in Atlanta, they went to a new nature center that had just opened up. I think you’ll enjoy his comment on that.

 

It was was a pretty nice setup. As we were coming out there was a large number of plants that gardeners had planted. I came up on a plant that I had not seen in years. A group of people and one of the volunteers were trying to figure it out what it was. It was the size of lemons and green and growing on a vine. I heard their conversation and told them it was a wild MAYPOP and we used to pick it from fence rows in Mississippi and pop them open and eat the seeds. This is the same fruit as your PURPLE PASSION [Passion Fruit or Lilikoi] or a variety of it. Anyway, I followed the volunteer back to her office and she wanted to find it on the Internet and sure enough there it was. Now I hear I have a cousin in Hawaii that makes jelly out of it. OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (from Cuzn Don’s email)

 

I’ve been thinking about what grows well in my yard, and what doesn’t – and about what is worth the effort and what isn’t. I put out some gladiola bulbs that grew quite well and had beautiful blossoms. The problem? It took a lot of precious soil to get just a few blooms that didn’t last but a few days. If they do something on their own, that will be fine, but I don’t think I’m going to waste a lot of water, soil or energy on them. I’d rather put that into growing something I can eat.

 

My latest project, after pulling out the last of my summer garden, was to sweeten the soil in my raised beds and add some fresh soil. So far, I’ve put out seeds for red leaf mustard, thyme, sweet basil, broadleaf sage, cilantro, string beans, and beets.

 

I never knew there were so many kinds of basil! I’m going to plant Cinnamon Basil, Lime Basil, and Purple Dark Opal Basil, in addition to the Thai Basil and Holy Basil I’ve planted before.

 

Is there such a thing as seed addiction? If so, I’m an addict! I always buy way more seeds than I’ll ever get around to planting, but I think that’s the hazard of gardening. Can you tell what I want to plant next? Pattypan squash, leaf lettuce, collards, and tomatillos. The little clear package in front will be an experiment – ceratonia siliqua, what most of us know as carob. The tomatillos and carob I’ll start in little pots for replanting later.

 

My small lime tree in a big pot is full of deep green limes that look like I could start picking right away. Container gardening seems to be the answer for many things here.

 

Orchids don’t seem to have much trouble growing here, but what did you expect? This is Hawai`i, after all! My plants are full of tall spikes covered with buds. Here are the first two to pop out!

 

My few sprigs of donkey tail are starting to take over my front steps. I need to make some hangers for them so they can gracefully hang over my deck.

 

Here are a couple more plants that should be hanging up instead of sitting on my steps. One of these days I’ll get around to making some macramé hangers.

 

One of my favorite growing things right now is the Thai hot pepper. I carefully pick off a few to toss into slow cooker chili or pulled pork, or anything that needs a bit of heat. They are such a brilliant color in my garden!

 

“There are never enough hours in the day.” How many gardeners have said that? At this time of year when the days are getting shorter I especially wish I had more daylight hours after I get home from teaching. Fortunately, I can grow veggies all winter long here without worrying about snow or frost.

While I wait for my seeds to grow (they’ve already sprouted), I have arugula, spicy mesclun and red leaf lettuce still available for a fresh salad, and plenty of red chard for stir-frying in extra virgin olive oil with lots of garlic.

The opening photo above is my daughter Inga’s two kitties. They are always so cute as kittens, and two make good company for each other. I’ll show you her summer garden in another post. She does so much in such a tiny space! But she has real earth!

A hui hou!