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?


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!

May Day/Lei Day!

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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?

click here for larger image


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!

click here for larger image


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!

click here for larger image


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

click here for larger image


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

click here for larger image


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

click here for larger image


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

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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”

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


This space will hold three boysenberry plants – I hope.

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


Here is another angle.

click here for larger image


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

click here for larger image


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!

click here for larger image


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

click here for larger image


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.

click here for larger image


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!

click here for larger image


A hui hou!


A Spring Day – Easter!

click here for larger image


When Spring looks like the photo above, any little sign of growth is so very welcome. This is Inga’s front yard (my daughter in Idaho), taken when she was suffering from a bad case of Spring Fever this year!

click here for larger image


I remember an Easter Sunday in Kodiak, Alaska when I bundled all my family in heavy parkas, wondering if we’d see any sunrise at all – and we didn’t! On another Easter Sunday in Rhode Island, a heavy snowfall had covered everything by the time we finished church services.

Gradually, bits of color started to peek through the snow in Inga’s yard.

click here for larger image


Snow starts to give way.

click here for larger image


More color starts to show.

click here for larger image


Suddenly, the snow is gone and the blooms display their glorious colors.

click here for larger image


And that’s how Spring arrives in Boise, Idaho!

Spring comes in a different way here in Hawai`i. I’ve been getting sun, interspersed with a few rains, enough to help some of my plants send out blossoms.

Here is my own spot of bright yellow – sweet calendula.

click here for larger image


The agapanthus that I transplanted out of a pot is blooming again, and sending up more stalks that will open soon.

click here for larger image


The hibiscus that I cut way back has shown lovely growth and put out the first bloom just this week.

click here for larger image


Even the wild snapdragons that pop up all over are looking beautiful this year.

click here for larger image


The Japanese Walking Iris (Neomarica candida) is sending out all sorts of flowers.

click here for larger image


Here are a couple of close-ups of my blooms. Amazingly beautiful!

click here for larger image


click here for larger image


A newly planted ivy geranium cutting is already blooming.

click here for larger image


My vegetables and varieties of basil are sprouting. Here are my string beans. They have doubled in size and have started climbing just since I took this picture last week.

click here for larger image


Watching plants gradually come to life in the spring is probably why I still can get excited over the first blooms. They are a living lesson on an abundant life after death.

A hui hou!

A Week of Surprises

click here for larger image


The Hawai`ian Spring comes sooner than in most parts of the country. Still, I am always a little surprised when something actually starts to grow and bloom. This past week I’ve been weeding, planting, while ignoring a few of my older starts. What a surprise when I took time to look around! Here are a few of my surprises.

The little iris plants I put in as starters from my friend, Velvet, have grown, multiplied and bloomed! Here is a “before” picture, taken in October, 2008.

click here for larger image


Here they are now.

click here for larger image


What a joy to find this unexpected bloom!

click here for larger image


The fig tree has grown quite a bit, too, now that our spring has started. You can see the difference between this. . .

click here for larger image


. . . and now. I’ve had to prop up one of the branches because it is so heavy.

click here for larger image


The lovely little calendula has been sprouting new shoots. Here she is when I first planted her as a cutting.

click here for larger image


My, how she’s grown and spread!

click here for larger image


Some of the most spectacular growth has taken place with the native yellow hibiscus.

click here for larger image


Even though I’ve had no blooms on this plant, it’s been growing like Topsy! I’ve even pruned her back to encourage more fullness.

click here for larger image


This Week of Surprises wouldn’t be complete without “before” and “now” shots of my patio. The first one was taken in March 2008, almost a year ago when my daughters and son-in-law were here. I described their work in this November 2008 post.

click here for larger image


You can see how much has grown in, and also how much more there is to fill in. I have a long way to go, but it’s nice to have a cup of tea at my little table while I relax and admire the things that have grown.

click here for larger image


The opening photo was taken on New Year’s Day 2009. The fig was still very small then. My old heart just sings with pleasure at seeing plants finally start to bloom and grow.

Among all the growth that has taken place I find that seeds are starting to produce, also. This purple cosmos is one of my favorites. It comes from seeds given me from a friend’s garden.

click here for larger image


Of course, there is the geranium, a plant that has almost weed status in some areas of California, but a treasure brought inside over the snowy winter in other areas, like Rhode Island. Their brilliant colors add much to a garden. I have red ones and violet ones, but the delicate pink is a real marvel. A tiny cutting was planted near a pink plumeria and the two should present quite a show later in the spring.

click here for larger image


Watch for Lava Lily next weekend with a few more surprises.

A hui hou! (“Till we meet again” in Hawai`ian or “See you later” as some of my friends use it!)


This is an example of a sitewide notice - you can change or remove this text in the Customizer under "Store Notice" Dismiss

Exit mobile version