Thirty Plus One

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At the end of 2008, I made a commitment to myself and to NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) to do 30 posts in 30 days. I wasn’t too sure I could actually do that, but yesterday was my 30th day! I did it – and it was fun!

Today is a little extra one thrown in to satisfy my need to tidy up, balance everything out, and make it a full month. So since there are 31 days in January, here’s the bonus post.

Several friends have asked what plants I do have, so I did a little calculating about what kinds of edible plants I have on my acre. I thought maybe my readers were curious, too, especially since my posts have been a little scattered on exactly what I have here. Most of these plants are either in containers or in raised beds. A few I have placed in a hole in the lava with some of the good rich soil I’ve made. This is only the beginning.

Starting tomorrow (February 1) I will be back to doing a longer post on Sundays. I just might do a short post mid-week, but I’m not promising more than Sunday right now.

Enjoy the list! I will expand the list as I plant more things.

bell peppers
string beans

bush cherry
lime tree (still very small)



Hens for eggs

Kabocha squash

Beautiful Chard!

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Chard is one of those vegetables that I “think” I recall from my childhood, but I honestly can’t remember whether I ever ate it, or if I even liked it. I sort of remember my mother talking about something she called “Swiss Chard.” I do know I had never eaten it as an adult.

Please don’t laugh! I raised four children and fed them well, considered myself a good cook. But for some unknown reason, chard was rather intimidating. I never fed it to my children, never ventured to buy it in the grocery store. The huge dark green leaves were almost frightening.

When I started looking through Cook’s Garden catalog for seed ideas last year, the pictures were so beautiful that I just had to try some. I had no earthly idea what I would do with it once I grew it. The seed packet languished on my kitchen counter, along with other seeds I bought.

This must sound crazy to other gardeners, but I finally got up courage to plant the chard in a corner by my back door. It was beautiful, just as the seed catalog had predicted. The leaves were bright, shiny, healthy, and I still didn’t have a clue what to do with it!

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I accidentally ran across a tiny paragraph in some magazine about how to cook chard, so I clipped it out. It seemed simple enough.

Last week, I picked my chard!

Following the directions, I carefully washed the leaves, cut out the tough center stem, and cut them into pieces. I sautéed garlic in extra virgin olive oil, then tossed in the chard for a quick stir.


In fact, it was so good, I’m going to plant more next time. What a delightful surprise!

Is It Frangipani or Plumeria?

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One of my favorite tropical flowering trees is the plumeria. I never get tired of their fragrance, so I have planted quite a few around my house. My hope is that they will soon be big enough and produce enough flowers that my place smells sweet most of the year.

Above is the Plumeria alba, the one I planted first. I laugh at the description that says the common name is “frangipani,” when here in Hawai`i the common name is “plumeria. So I suppose it depends on where in the tropics you are living. I have friends who have spent most of their life in the South Pacific or Caribbean, and they call it “frangipani.”

There are so many colors, and my favorite is the deep red, or maroon, but I don’t have one of those in my yard yet. I’d love for someone to break off a couple pieces of their tree and leave it on my doorstep!

That’s how easy it is to grow plumeria here. You simply move a few rocks, pour in some soil, and stick in the cutting.

My next favorite color is the pale pink. I have several of these around my “patio in progress.” These photos were taken in the summer when their blossoms were at their peak. Where I live, they lose their leaves in the winter months, but they are already showing signs of early flowering.

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Over the past three years of living in this particular place, my plumeria have shown substantial growth, unlike some of the other plants I try to grow. That should tell me something, don’t you think?

Please check Wikipedia for facts and history of the frangipani.

From Coffee Bean to Coffee Cup

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In spite of bad press in the past, coffee is now coming into its own as a beverage that has healthy properties. I’m one of those who is ecstatic over the latest scientific findings.

On the other hand, as an instructor in substance abuse counseling, I know it to be a stimulant that can be abused. What we call “uppers,” are a natural way of life for the majority of the population.

Consider our love affair with coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate! Oh my!!!! Still, we love these items, and with careful use, they can add so much to our lives.

I don’t have a coffee estate, by any means, and I’m struggling to keep my few coffee trees alive. Like most other plants I try to grow, my coffee trees don’t grow very fast. I hope to eventually get a cup of coffee out of what I have.

Above, you can see the seedlings I started from raw beans. That picture was taken in June, 2006. Here is the largest of my trees, photo taken in December, 2008.

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Soon, I plan to do a longer post on my friend, Lori Obra. She has a coffee farm and I showed her at the Na`alehu Farmers Market holding up a bag of “Rusty’s Coffee.”

Any guesses as to when I’ll get that first cup of coffee from my own trees?

A Healing Circle

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There is a little beach in our district of Ka’u that most of our visitors to the island don’t know about. I’ll take you to that beach in another post, but this time, I want to tell you of a gathering of friends at that beach recently. We came together to create a healing circle for a woman who is a dear friend to us all.

The celebration came on the first full moon of 2009. We each brought food to share – and what a feast that was! In addition to that, we each wrote something about how much she means to us. Later in the evening, in a circle of candlelight, each person read their piece. These were given to her later to be put into an album.

These are flowers brought from someone’s back yard.

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What a beautiful way to offer healing to a dear friend!

Olakino maika`i! (Good health!)

An Simple Favorite – String Beans

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Can you ever forget growing up on canned green beans mixed with a can of mushroom soup and topped with canned French fried onion rings? A favorite dish for many housewives for many years – and even now – is the “Green Bean Casserole.” This began in a time before frozen vegetables came into existence, and I remember those days well!

Somehow I just can’t bring myself to make that casserole, mainly because I have had access to fresh green beans for many years. Who could adulterate such goodness by mixing it with canned mushroom soup and canned onion rings?

My love of fresh green beans began back in the mid-50s when I was a young married woman with a husband in medical school. We had a big back yard so we had it plowed up by an old guy and his mule for $5. Because this was in the Deep South, we planted okra, speckled butter beans, mustards, collards, tomatoes and Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans. When friends came to visit, we sent them home with bags of fresh vegetables, feeling like country cousins.

I’ve been growing beans ever since then, including the tender little French beans that are so sweet and tasty. My latest crop of beans is in one end of my longer raised bed, as shown here.

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This is a bowl of my first harvest this year, and I am picking more beans daily.

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These beans will never end up in the proverbial “Green Bean Casserole.” Now, I either steam them to go with a main dish, or make my favorite – a quick sauté in a pan with extra virgin olive oil and diced fresh garlic.

Mmmmmm….makes me hungry just thinking about it. Such a heavenly aroma! I think that’s what I will fix for lunch!

A hui ho!

Teepee Village of Honua La`a

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Retreats can be mountain top experiences devised to carry us through some tough times. Because I am a substance abuse counselor, among other roles, I often serve as a retreat leader for women who are working in the substance abuse field.

I seek out peaceful, relaxing and interesting settings for these retreats, and one of the most unusual and peaceful is right here in Ocean View at the South End of our Big Island – Honua La`a, which means “Sacred Land.”

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Just a bit over one mile off the main highway, a driver suddenly comes across a village of large teepees (don’t ever call them tents)! Each teepee features a different color with a painted flower on the outside . . .and matching décor on the inside.

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If you have ever dreamed of camping out “in style,” this would be it! The teepees include a concrete floor covered with carpeting, a king-sized bed, dressers – total luxury in an island setting.

The owner, Debbie “Alohapuanani” Roberts and her husband make this village their home year-round.

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They have one special pavilion next to their own teepee that serves as their living room, dining area, and kitchen, complete with a large fire pit.

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Debbie offers retreats at her village throughout the year, as well as renting it out to groups like my own. You can get more information and more pictures here, or on the website listed above.

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Even though even though the retreats I lead have a primary focus on women who work with those in recovery, other groups also contact me from time to time with a special need or interest. I design each retreat around whatever the group wants to accomplish. Contact me if you want to schedule a retreat.

A hui ho (I’ll see you later)!

Are you a WWOOFer?

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One wonderful aspect of this blogging is all the stuff you learn! Being a college instructor, I love to learn, and especially when it has to do with an activity I love so much, like gardening!

I wrote a blog about the home and garden of a friend where I spent a relaxing Thanksgiving with other friends. When I talked with my host later, to make sure I had all of his information correct, he told me about the WWOOFers on his acreage.

No, it’s not a tech part for a stereo system, nor is it related to the Alaskan wolf.

WWOOF means World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It seems there are quite a few people who knew about this – all except me!

There is a specific site about the WWOOFers in Hawai`i as well as the home page of the organization and more information on another page.

One paragraph I read gave other possible interpretations of WWOOF besides the official one. For instance, some call it “World-Wide Orientation on Organic Farms,” and I like the one that refers to it as “Willing Workers on Organic Farms.”

What a superb organization this is – and what a great travel opportunity for those who want to learn more about organic gardening, be of help to those who can’t do all the gardening themselves (like elderly or disabled), and travel around the world at the same time.

WWOOFing is the sort of thing that would have attracted me in my hippie-trippy days – actually, it STILL attracts me! (laughing) But like most of us, I’m too tethered to my property, my job, and my house.

Perhaps in another lifetime!

Barbados Lily Rebirth

March 2008 – My two daughters visited from the mainland, along with my son-in-law, Harry. One of the plants they gave me was a Barbados Lily (Hippeastrum puniceum). It was beautiful, until it finally faded and died completely back to the ground. I didn’t know if it would make it.

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July 2008 – There was a slight amount of growth and I was ecstatic! You can see the dry top of a few bulbs, plus one small green leaf is starting to show.

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August 2008 – More leaves had appeared and it looked like something was going to happen, but it stayed this way for the next four months.

January 2009 – A few days ago, I noticed a tall stem sticking up from the leaves and hoped it would produce flowers, but it didn’t have anything on the top except for a slight swelling.

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January 17, 2009 – Here is what I saw when I woke up! They are beautiful – worth the wait in this harsh geography. Ten months from death to rebirth.

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Welcome to our world, Barbados Lily! You did it!

Waimea Strawberries

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A few days ago, I talked about apricot and peach preserves and jams that my friend showed me how to make. When he saw that post, he sent me a message to say that I should be sure to tell everyone that the jars, the lids, the fruit – everything – needs to be kept kept at 200 degrees F!

So now I bring you strawberries!

These are strawberries from the fields in Waimea, a northern area of the Big Island of Hawai`i. You can’t believe how big and sweet they are. I have to eat a bunch of them right away before I make them up into preserves.

Just like with the apricots and peaches, the extra juice at the end is used to make strawberry flavored ginger preserves. I honestly don’t know which way I like them better – as strawberry preserves or as ginger-strawberry preserves.

Either way, they are totally fine on hot, freshly baked biscuits, over ice cream, or wherever your imagination takes you. Sometimes I’ve mixed up a few tablespoons in plain, non-fat yogurt as a special dessert.

It’s just about strawberry season, so you know what I’ll be doing soon!

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