Palms Revisited

 

Last year on Palm Sunday weekend, I wrote a post about a variety of palms in honor of Palm Sunday.

One of those palms was the triangle palm (Neodypsis decaryi) that I’ve been planting on either side of my driveway. A friend on Maui has several triangles that have grown to be a decent size.

The triangle above recently started sending out some sort of growth. Would you call it a flower?

 

Here is another view. What would you call this?

 

Probably of more interest to people who do not live in Hawai`i is the banana palm (Musa SPP) and the process of growing bananas. Those delicious potassium-filled fruits you buy in the grocery store aren’t nearly as tasty as the ones right off the tree.

Like most fruits, it starts with the flower. As the flower unfolds, tiny little green bananas begin to form.

 

Gradually, fingerling bananas begin to grow and peep out from between the petals of the flower.

 

In late spring, they are beginning to look like real bananas, but still very green.

 

By November, this beautiful bunch is ready to be cut down. Need I tell you they can get incredibly heavy? Sometimes it takes several people to carry the bunch to a shed where they will slowly ripen. If left on the tree to ripen, the bugs get them before we do.

 

Yes, it looks like they are growing “upside down,” but that’s the way they grow on the tree. Think about this the next time you buy a nice “hand” of bananas.

After the bananas are harvested, the old tree is cut down, but several new ones have already started to grow. More bananas will be on the way shortly.

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!

Watermelon and Blueberries

 

I’m not sure if it’s stupidity or determination, but I keep trying to grow things that just are not supposed to grow here. I’ve been called a “bulldog” when it comes to my tenacity in trying to accomplish the impossible. So this post may be an admission of my defeat – or of a temporary setback.

My “Cuz’n Don” in Mississippi sent me some heirloom Moon & Stars watermelon seeds that originally came from Willie Edd Jones in Hurley, Mississippi – another Mississippi Jones relative. The note on the envelope from Don said he had received the seeds from Willie Edd’s watermelons last year. Willie Edd died on June 22, 2008. That’s all I know about the seeds at this point.

Here is another site that talks about these “seed-spittin’ melons.”

Please check out this Google site to see some great pictures of the Moon & Stars watermelons.

So after I received the packet of seeds from Don, I planted them exactly the way I remembered planting them when I lived in Mississippi eons ago. First, I soaked only a few of the seeds overnight (didn’t want to use them all up!), then I made three mounds and planted three seeds in each. I carefully tended the plants, and eventually one vine showed up (out of the nine seeds). This photo was taken on August 10, 2009.

 

I put something around the fragile plant to protect it from the local Mouflon sheep. Twenty days later, the sole surviving plant had grown a little. On a full-grown melon, there is one large yellow spot and many small yellow speckles, giving it the name of “Moon and Stars.” Even on the leaves of the vine, you can see the yellow speckles.

 

That’s all I ever saw of my watermelon planting efforts. The only one that sprouted simply shriveled up and disappeared!

Of course, in the rich Mississippi soil, Cuz’n Don had much better luck!! You can see a few melons hiding beneath the leaves.

 

 

 

Don sent some pictures of his granddaughter Hannah tending his watermelons.

 

 

Yes, I’m going to try again next summer. I still have seeds left.

But I have yet another ongoing attempt to produce alien food here on lava. I’m trying blueberries. I was given three blueberry plants that are bred specifically for semi-tropical climates. They are grown in Southern Florida as well as Southern California, so we thought that surely they would grow in the cooler climate of Ocean View at 2300 feet.

 

 

 

Then disaster struck!

 

I have no idea why these plants suddenly died. Only one blueberry plant in the middle survived. But then I was given two plants to replace the two that died. As of this morning, one of those has died also, and now I have only two healthy blueberries. We shall see what happens!!

Of course, Cuz’n Don’s blueberries in Mississippi fared much better. Here his family is picking blueberries . . .

 

. . . and eating them.

 

There are at least two secrets to growing healthy, productive plants It takes good soil and it takes occasional rain – and I don’t have either one.

But I’m not giving up!

A hui hou!

August 2009 Update

8-22-09 August Catch up
GARDEN CLUBBERS
GARDEN CLUBBERS

(photo courtesy of Charles Tobias)

 

The July meeting of our Ocean View Garden Club was at my place. I told them I was definitely a work in progress and not a show place (yet)! They all wanted to see what was growing on my acre because they’d read my blog and seeing a garden that was not finished gave them hope. This post is my monthly catch-up with what’s going on here.

At my front door is this hanging fuschia.

 

Just below that is my cluster of orchid plants. Here is the latest bloom poking a head through the leaves.

 

As I stand on my front stoop and look out, this is what I see.

 

Here it is when I step down and look at these plants from another angle.

 

These are the Atom Gladiolas. The description from Old House Gardens states that it is a “brilliant red cooled by the finest edging of silver.” They are smaller than most glads and they provide a bright spot of color against my gray/black lava.

 

I cropped out the Spic and Span Glad from one of the photos above so you could see the difference in color. This is closer to the normal size of gladiola and runs from coral to pink. Both the Atom and the Spic/Span glads are heirloom bulbs dating from 1946. It’s too bad that the blooms don’t last longer.

 

Let’s walk on around to the right side of the house and look at my small beds of veggies. The sugar snap peas are full of blooms, and I’ve gotten a few pods to add to salads. You can see a piece of my patch of mustard greens.

 

I have several of these Thai hot peppers that will give me something to toss into my hot Thai cooking! If you’ve seen the little firey hot peppers in a Thai dish, that’s what I have here. It takes a mighty brave soul to bite into those with haste!

 

One of my students gave me a pot with a macadamia nut seedling. I was afraid it wouldn’t make it at first, but suddenly new leaves started to shoot out. I’ll give it a fair chance to make it before I transfer it out of the pot.

 

Walking back toward the shed, I have arugula and tomatoes, string beans and okra. I’m making salads with the arugula, but the tomatoes only have blooms so far. There are a few tiny beans that are in the process of becoming bigger beans. Here are a few pods of okra I’ve harvested. I toss a few of these in with whatever I’m cooking up in the skillet.

 

In the patio area I have beets growing, but not as many as I’d like to see. I need to buy more seeds for a fresh planting. These coffee berries will eventually turn bright red and I’ll be able to harvest them. How exciting to see these green berries. I hope I can get a pot of coffee out of my own trees.

 

Here is the Little Beeswings Dahlia that produced a few small blooms.

 

I think my favorite dahlia is the Prince Noir. I hope that eventually I’ll get a whole bush full of these gorgeous blooms.

 

Recently, a colleague gave me several bags of bromeliad and one has actually bloomed for me already!

 

Of course, I would love a whole yard of daylilies. Some of the ones I’ve planted have started to bloom.

 

The pikake plant is full of fragrant blossoms, about three times the number just since I took this photo a couple weeks ago.

 

I was given a small shoot of this plant. People have given it several names, but after looking on the internet, I’m still not sure what it is. If anyone can give me a link to what it is, I’d appreciate it. It’s been called a “stick plant,” but I’m sure that’s not it. It has also been called “zigzag plant,” but it doesn’t look exactly like the pictures on the web.

 

It seems like there’s always something waiting to be planted – like these bags of plants given by a friend.

 

And like most gardeners, I have so much more to be done. Like any addict, I keep buying more seeds than I’ll ever be able to plant!

A hui hou!

 

California Avenue Ambrosia

CALIFORNIA AVENUE MARKET
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CALIFORNIA AVENUE MARKET

 

A special thanks and big hug to my brother, Hilton Jones, who was my guest poster while I was away from my blog for several weeks. I spent many years living in California at different times in my life, but I had not been there to really re-live some of those days in a long time. I’m back home now, full of stories and pictures of my trip to California to visit family and friends, so you’ll be hearing about it for the next few weeks while I catch up on my gardening here in Hawaii.

Part of my journey included chauffeuring a friend who had recently had total knee replacement. The first Sunday I was there, he wanted to visit his favorite breakfast spot in Palo Alto. To our surprise, California Street was closed off for a Sunday Farmers’ Market. We managed to find a parking spot, eat a hearty breakfast, then wander through the market to sample the many varieties.

TASTY SAMPLES
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TASTY SAMPLES

 

There was almost too much to take in, and of course, there wasn’t much of it I could bring back home. Still, I had loads of fun talking with the vendors, buying a few things to eat while I was in California, telling them about my “gardening blog,” taking pictures to show my fans. This first post (there will be several) is about the variety of fruits I found there. I still didn’t get pictures of everything, even after making two Sunday visits to the market!

In 1997, the Urban Village Farmers’ Market Association was formed to provide local and regional foods. This page gives information on the other markets that are part of this non-profit association. Some are year-round markets, others are seasonal. If you are traveling through California, please stop and support this wonderful phenomenon.

One of the first stops I made was to the Triple Delight blueberry stand, since I try to eat blueberries every day. They are so delicious and super good for you. These were some of the plumpest and brightest blue I’d ever seen. I quickly got over my shyness and asked to take a picture of this lovely couple. I visited them a second time before I left to come back home to Hawaii. Both Sundays, there was a line-up of people waiting to get their blueberries. May they never run out of blueberries, because I promise to come back to visit again!

FRESH BLUEBERRIES
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FRESH BLUEBERRIES

 

It was cherry season, and there were several varieties of cherries everywhere! Even after a big breakfast, I couldn’t resist sampling the sweet red cherries and colorful Rainier cherries . . .

SWEET CHERRIES
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SWEET CHERRIES

 

. . . and the dark red Bing cherries. If I’d had an oven handy, I would have made one of my famous cherry pies!

BING CHERRIES
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BING CHERRIES

 

These colorful Rio Red grapefruits were so tempting.

RIO RED GRAPEFRUIT
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RIO RED GRAPEFRUIT

 

Strawberries were everywhere! Ever since I was a child, I think strawberries have been my very favorite fruit of all!

STRAWBERRIES
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STRAWBERRIES

 

The donut peaches were so cute – and smelled so sweet!

DONUT PEACHES
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DONUT PEACHES

 

Apricots have such a short growing season, so I was happy to be there on a weekend when they were on display. I had tried some from a local grocery store earlier in the week but they weren’t nearly as tasty as these from the market! Various vendors displayed combinations of apricots, raisins, cherries, and peaches.

APRICOTS, RAISINS, CHERRIES, PEACHES
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APRICOTS, RAISINS, CHERRIES, PEACHES

 

On our second Sunday visit to this wonderful market (and hearty breakfast), we stopped to chat with Nick, the vendor from Prevedelli Farms.

PREVEDELLI FARMS
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PREVEDELLI FARMS

 

Of course, we had to taste their fresh raspberry jam. My friend loves to make jam and calls it his “retirement therapy.” He bought a jar of theirs to take to his house. My luggage was already getting over-stuffed or I would have brought a jar home, too. Here you can see other products from the Prevedelli Farms.

FRESH BUTTERS AND PRESERVES
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FRESH BUTTERS AND PRESERVES

 

I leave you with this incredible display of Prevedelli’s fresh, delicate and luscious raspberries, as well as a glance at some of their other products.

FRESH RASPBERRIES
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FRESH RASPBERRIES

 

Since I can’t visit this market every Sunday, I invite you to go and check it out for yourself, then come back here and make a comment on your own reaction.

A hui hou!

 

A Country Haven

GATE TO CONNIE'S HAVEN
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GATE TO CONNIE’S HAVEN

 

It’s hard to believe that only twelve miles away is a hideaway this lush and fertile! On twenty acres of volcanic land that has decomposed, my friend Connie has created a delicious and peaceful botanical garden.

My friend, Velvet and I were invited to come and take pictures. Once we were through the gate shown above, we walked along this beautiful roadway.

LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY
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LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY

 

All along each side were many plants and flowers. It is obvious a great deal of loving care has gone into developing her acreage. Tucked into the ferns were several of the colorful Stromanthe sanguinea.

STROMANTHE
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STROMANTHE

 

Many were plants that we don’t commonly associate with brilliant or startling color, like this bromeliad with scarlet spotted leaves.

SCARLET BROMELIAD
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SCARLET BROMELIAD

 

Under thick foliage, we discovered hidden treasures like this Japanese lantern.

HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN
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HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN

 

I love looking back through the foliage and wondering what else is back there.

VIEW INTO THE FOREST
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VIEW INTO THE FOREST

 

Color keeps popping up everywhere.

MORE COLOR
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MORE COLOR

 

Even without color, most plants are striking and dramatic.

DRAMATIC GREENERY
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DRAMATIC GREENERY

 

At one point, we stopped and looked back along the path. I would love to live at the end of this lane, hidden from the world.

LOOKING BACK
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LOOKING BACK

 

Finally, we reached Connie’s living space. In addition to the flowers, I’m always attracted to the figurines. This heavenly angel keeps watch over the flora and fauna.

ANGEL
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ANGEL

 

She is joined by the Buddha in protecting the property.

BUDDHA
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BUDDHA

 

I was stunned at the size and beauty of her yellow native Hawai`ian hibiscus. I found out that mine is from a cutting of this particular plant. Click on each of these small pictures to see a full-sized version.

 

This climbing Mandevilla vine gave me a great idea for my own property. It is a way to lift the color up off the ground and toward the sky.

CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE
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CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE

 

Here is a bit of whimsy.

DOGZILLA
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DOGZILLA

 

There are too many scenes of flowers and greenery to show individually. Please take time to look through this slideshow before continuing to read this post.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

For a larger version of this slideshow, click here.

 

I’m also envious of this shade house. I don’t need shade on my property, because it rarely stays very sunny for any length of time, but a shade house makes it possible to keep many shade-loving plants together in one spot.

SHADE HOUSE
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SHADE HOUSE

 

Ideas for my own place kept coming to me throughout the morning we were at Connie’s. At the end of the day, what better place to enjoy a cup of tea and to survey your work?

A RESTING PLACE
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A RESTING PLACE

 

Another bit of information about Connie . . . she is the owner of TLC, a business providing indoor plant services. If you want to contact her, leave a note in the comments and I’ll let her know you are interested.

For the next two weeks, my brother Hilton will be the guest poster. He lives in Florida and writes a travel/food blog about the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area. Please visit to see some of the gardens of Florida.

A hui hou!

 

May Day/Lei Day!

LEHUA BLOSSOMS ON OHIA TREE
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LEHUA BLOSSOMS ON OHIA TREE

 

What do you think of when May 1 comes along?

The Lehua blossoms on the Ohia tree above are one sure sign that we are on the verge of summer. By May 1, the trees are loaded with red blooms and more are opening up.

When I was a little girl many moons ago, on May 1, we made little baskets to hang on the door knobs of neighbors. Sometimes these were baskets folded out of construction paper strips that we had made in school. Not as frequently, we were able to go to the “dime store” and buy a few little woven straw baskets.

Whatever we used, we filled them with flowers as our way of saying “Happy Spring!” on May 1, or May Day. Even today, May Day is celebrated here in Hawai`i as “Lei Day” with hula, everyone wearing lots of leis, and the crowning of the May King and Queen in the schools.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a member of the May Queen’s court. As a child, I enjoyed dancing the May Pole Dance, which originated in Great Britain.

For those who have ever done any sailing, “Mayday!” meant a life and death situation at sea. Fortunately, I never had to radio that emergency when I lived on board my boat.

However you think of “May Day,” it primarily means lots of flowers and a feeling of new life in our gardens. Here are a few signs of “new life” as we begin the month of May.

I call this my “Buttercup” plant because of the many yellow blooms that cover it. Some have already fallen off but there are many more buds ready to open up.

BUTTERCUP PLANT
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BUTTERCUP PLANT

 

Blossoms on my little coffee tree was one of the many surprises I found this past week! What do you think the chances are that I’ll get a cup of coffee out of this?

COFFEE TREE IN BLOOM
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COFFEE TREE IN BLOOM

 

Two weeks ago, I planted three Spic & Span gladiolus bulbs and today, I saw that two of them have sent up spikes of almost two inches! Today, I also planted one Florence Vaughn Canna
and one Canna Indica. I can hardly wait to see these all sprout.

Somehow, I have squash vines coming up in the oddest places, especially where I did not plant them! I think the birds have left me these gifts. At any rate, here’s one of the squash plants that many people around here eat. Sometimes they get about two feet long! The vines must be spreading out at least four or five feet. Here is a squash and I have no idea what kind it is. I have another one growing where I planted okra!

VOLUNTEER SQUASH
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VOLUNTEER SQUASH

 

The fig tree my daughters gave me last spring has five branches covered with figs. Here is just one branch! There were two figs on it last summer and they were sweet. It looks like I’ll have more than two to eat this year, if the birds don’t get them!

FIGS
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FIGS

 

I’ve planted nasturtiums to cover some of the areas that are not hospitable to other plants. They have just started to come up.

NASTURTIUM
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NASTURTIUM

 

My donkey tail is getting plump. I need to make or buy some macramé hangers to get them up where they can really grow.

DONKEY TAIL
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DONKEY TAIL

 

My mixture of salad greens is about ready to give me a little salad.

SALAD GREENS
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SALAD GREENS

 

Along with the salad makings, I have several beautiful basils. Here is the Siam Basil.

SIAM BASIL
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SIAM BASIL

 

I have planted Holy Basil, also, but it’s not big enough to see yet. The Sweet Basil is growing like crazy, however. This picture was taken last week, and it’s about three times as big now. You can see the small lettuce plants a student gave me beside the basil. The other day, I ate a fresh sweet basil, tomato, and Jarlsberg cheese sandwich on whole grain bread that was heavenly.

SWEET BASIL
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SWEET BASIL

 

A common flower, but one of my favorites, is the geranium. These red ones are in pots outside my kitchen window, taking their cheer inside.

 

This peach colored geranium is starting to get a little growth on it.

PEACH GERANIUM
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PEACH GERANIUM

 

Today I did a lot of pruning, planting, watering, and weeding – then fed the weeds to my hens. On these warm, sunny days, I run out of time with so many projects to take care of. Once school is out (just one more week!), I’ll be able to spend more time outside.

A hui hou!

 

Various Projects on the “Farm”

ORIGINAL LOCATION OF SIDE PATH
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ORIGINAL LOCATION OF SIDE PATH

 

Relocating rocks can be either hard labor, or you can look at it as good exercise! I choose to think of it as a way to get in my weight lifting. This weekend, I put on my heavy duty garden gloves and started creating a spot in the sun for my three new boysenberry plants.

Soon after I moved into this house, I created a side path out of cinder and 12-inch pavers with the help of a friend. The photo above shows the path before we added the pavers, but gives an idea of where they would be going – fairly close alongside the house. This was also before the lattice work was put in around the base of the house.

Boysenberries need to be in full sun. There are many places around my acre that are in full sun, but only this one place where they would have something to climb on without building a frame. For several reasons, that wasn’t an option at this time.

So my first task was to move the pavers to create an area for the berries. Here is the new path, curved to leave a planting spot.

NEW CURVED PATH
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NEW CURVED PATH

 

This space will hold three boysenberry plants – I hope.

NEW SPACE FOR BOYSENBERRIES
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NEW SPACE FOR BOYSENBERRIES

 

A couple weeks ago, a friend helped me build an addition to the chicken run. The “girls” seem happy with their new space. Here is a view from the front toward the water tank.

NEW CHICKEN RUN
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NEW CHICKEN RUN

 

This is a closer view from the other side. They all gathered to see what I was doing. As you can see, there is a little more to be done to finish off the top. They love scratching around in the lava, especially after I’ve tossed in a bunch of weeds.

CLOSER VIEW OF CHICKEN RUN
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CLOSER VIEW OF CHICKEN RUN

 

As I was moving the rocks for the boysenberry bed, I found several flat rocks that looked like pieces of concrete from the original construction period that had been stained by the red concrete. I pulled those out and created a path in some of the beds in the patio. I’ll dump in either cinder or soil and let something like a low-growing herb of some sort or alyssum fill in the cracks.

NEW PATH IN PATIO BEDS
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NEW PATH IN PATIO BEDS

 

The left side of this path is unplanted, so it’s full of weeds right now. You can barely see the right side where I have arugula and other salad greens planted. Original steps at the lower end of this path were put in by my two daughters last March.

ANOTHER ANGLE
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ANOTHER ANGLE

 

Here is another angle.

MORE OF PATIO PATH
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MORE OF PATIO PATH

 

You even get a glimpse of my pink geranium in this view.

PATH WITH PINK GERANIUM
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PATH WITH PINK GERANIUM

 

While I was taking pictures with my new Nikon Coolpix S610, I thought you might like to see the back half of my acre. I stood at the door of my shed and took several shots of it so you can see the potential for more growing space. When I figure out how to use the video ability of this camera, I’ll do a sweep around the property. Until then, just pretend that this is one panoramic view, from left to right. If you want to see a larger picture of each one, just click on it.

 

Here is a close-up of where the patio is from the shed, shielded by a stand of wild grass. When the grass is pulled, I will plant more flowers and veggies in that area, as well. So many ideas, so little time and energy!

HIDDEN PATIO
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HIDDEN PATIO

 

One last picture that I took at the same time is my beautiful bell pepper – a lovely green against the gray/black lava rocks.

BELL PEPPER
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BELL PEPPER

 

Addendum – just before I posted this, I made a few changes to my boysenberry bed. I removed the rocks from the outside of the pathway, dug three holes with the help of a friend who recently moved to Hawaii from Washington. In another post, I’ll tell you about her and how this blog prompted her to move here.

BOYSENBERRY BED
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BOYSENBERRY BED

 

She and I dug three deep holes, then she held the plant in place while I dumped in my combination of soil and chicken manure. We put rocks around the outside to help hold the soil and water. New growth was already beginning to show on the roots!

3 BOYSENBERRIES
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3 BOYSENBERRIES

 

A hui hou!