One of my intentions since the beginning of this blog almost three years ago has been to show readers what some of our local residents have managed to create on their acreage, and what they are doing to make it livable as well as beautiful. If you want to see some of these past posts, go through the categories on the right hand column of this blog.
The Southern end of the Big Island of Hawaii is not exactly the luxurious tropical atmosphere most people envision when they think of Hawaii. Here, every bloom is nurtured and prized, every square inch is utilized as much as possible.
Many of my posts talk of the challenges we face when we try to garden on our a`a lava. It is a constant process of finding which plants will survive during drought or heavy rain, coping with toxic air full of sulfur dioxide from the volcano, sheltering our plants from the strong trade winds, and working with minimum soil that we (mostly) need to make ourselves out of compost.
Little by little, our lava beds can become works of art. Recently, our Ocean View Garden Club visited another local property that exemplifies the creativity that is possible here, in spite of harsh circumstances. Plant art, found art, junque art – all are at home here and work together to form an oasis of beauty.
Click here to view a slide show of what is possible when creative minds are put to work.
This particular post was published exactly one year ago! It’s a “remember when” rather than “how it is,” I’m afraid. You see, I didn’t think my garden was doing much last year, but all the beautiful things you see here are no longer in existence.
Ka’u District, the part of the Big Island of Hawai`i where I live, has been having a terrible drought. No amount of extra soil, watering or drip system is helping things to grow. Even critters (not bugs) are chewing what little bit has been growing in order to get a bit of moisture.
So I decided to post this “August 2009 Update” to get back a little hope that growing food and flowers in this lava is possible. Looking through the pictures and remembering helps me to realize how harsh this environment can be. The rains must surely come soon!
So here is the post from one year ago:
The July 2009 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!
Most of us are interested in eating locally grown food these days, and some of us even try to grow as much of our own food as we can. Try as I may, I don’t seem to be able to keep enough growing to insure that I’m well fed. There are certain times of the year that I seem to have more time to do the nurturing (and work) that is involved, but at other times, I get too busy with my teaching career and something called “Life.”
Fortunately, there are some who make their career out of producing food for the rest of us. Such is the case with Chas Canon and his family. Our Garden Club made a trip to his acreage here in Ocean View in late October of this past year. If you’re like me (and if you read my blog regularly, I suspect you are), you enjoy seeing where your food comes from.
Rather than elaborate too much on what we saw there, I’m going to give you a quick look at what he grows and how he grows it. Please click on the slide show at the bottom to see all of these pictures, and more.
There is a deep gulch on the property where he grows a few things at the bottom – even along the edge of the gulch as shown here.
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.
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!
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