Living on an acre of lava that offers many shades of black and gray, I might quote the Muppets and say, “It’s not easy being green.” I forget what it means to be green.
Friends from the mainland came to visit and were amazed at my catchment system, and for the first time, I had an inkling of just how “green” we live here in Ocean View. I know my friends in California think they are being “green” when they put in a 100 gallon rain barrel. It’s no wonder they are in awe of my 15,000 gallon tank! Still, our planet appreciates every 100 gallons saved.
So much of what we grow and eat here goes through its green stage, like these bananas before they turn yellow . . .
. . . or the coffee berries before they turn cherry red.
Herbs in all shades of green stand close to my kitchen door.
Fresh corn and other veggies offer more shades of green.
Then we have fruits – the enormous jackfruit. . .
. . . and wonderful limes.
I love cooking up a mess of fresh greens from my garden . . .
. . . or a pan of this brilliant green chard.
There are so many places where shades of green forms a spectacular frame, like this scene from Kauai.
Mostly green forms a background to other colors of Hawaii. . .
. . . or for our sensational orchids, and other flowers.
St. James Park in London provides another backdrop for early spring flowers.
Our Hawai`ian fauna also comes in shades of green. There is the florescent green of the Jackson. . .
. . .and the dark almost black green of the sea turtles.
The stately ti plants are considered good luck when planted around your home.
The green lotus leaves create a sense of serenity and peace.
The many pictures of green in my albums would fill a few coffee table books, each one another category of my life. This is only a small sampling of my green pictures. Beyond the visual green, there is a lot of symbolism to be found in the color green. I think I’d better reserve that for a future post!
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!
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!
My brother Hilton has talked about turnip greens in his blog, using a down-home recipe from our Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. Since I’m fixing a “mess o’ greens” today out of my garden, I thought you might enjoy reading a little blurb from our dad that I happened to find the other day. It comes from a little cookbook he and Mother were putting together for their church folk. Here it is in his words.
Turnip greens were what mama used to serve with southern smothered fried chicken, fluffy white rice, and creamy chicken gravy. (Sometimes she served collard greens, but we didn’t like them so well.)
When she cooked turnip greens, she’d have one of us children run out to the garden and bring in about 4 pounds of young turnips and their green tops. These were well washed and drained to remove the red Mississippi sand.
Then she boiled ¼ piece of salt pork (chopped up) in a quart of water for 15 minutes, and added the turnip greens, a pot of hot pepper, which she always kept growing in a pot on our front porch, and slowly boiled all together an hour and a half more. (The younger greens cook quicker than more mature greens, so take them off the stove when tender.)
Before serving, she cut the greens a few times across with a paring knife, before spooning into a bowl to go to the table. This served six of us.
Pepper sauce (hot red peppers soaked in vinegar in small bottles for a few weeks) is good poured on turnip greens for an extra flavor.
Lucy’s note: I happen to love a combination of collards and mustards or turnips, but perhaps collards are a more acquired taste than mustards, although some people don’t like the peppery taste of either one. I also love to make beet greens. When I harvest my beets, I use the greens that same day, and save the beets for the following day. In the South, they have a special kind of pepper sauce bottle that sits on every table, not only at home, but also in restaurants. I can’t eat turnip greens without it.
I have one more comment on the difference between Hilton’s greens and Daddy’s recipe I give here. Our dad grew up in a poor preacher’s home in rural Mississippi. While Hilton and I might put ham hocks or bacon in our greens, I suspect that Daddy’s family could barely afford to find a little piece of salt pork. The bottom line is that you start with the greens and add whatever kind of smoky meat you happen to have on hand.
How I fixed my greens today:
I put half a rasher of bacon (cut in large pieces) and my mess o’ greens (cut in large pieces) into a large skillet and let it cook. About 15 minutes before it was ready, I cut up a small red potato and added it to the mix. I sat down and ate the entire thing all by myself for lunch! I’m still reeling from the wonderful flavor! After that pig-out, it’s time for a nap, I think.
Today, this post is to honor the memory of my own father who would have been 100 years old this July, and he died 40 years ago this fall at the young age of 60, an early recipient of open heart surgery.
He was an artist – see one of his pen and ink drawings at the end of my brother’s post on London. I have many more of his that are done in the same style.
He was a musician – he accompanied my mother on piano while she played violin. Besides that, he was an accomplished pianist and had a beautiful Welsh voice. He gave up much of his own piano playing time in order to let me practice. The above picture shows him in his teens, playing ukulele. I still have that very same uke.
He was a pastor – a United Methodist minister and still in active ministry when he died. I don’t think that’s the reason I went into the ministry, but it certainly was in my “blood.” His father before him was also a pastor, in true “circuit rider” tradition, shown here with his horse and saddlebags heading out to preach.
And he was a jokester. One of the many practical jokes he played on some of the old ladies in the church was with a woman who was always picking lint off the shoulder of his suit. One Sunday, he put a spool of thread in his pocket and fixed one end of the thread on his sleeve. Sure enough, she started to pull the thread off, and it kept coming and coming and coming. I’m not sure it cured her, but we had a laugh over that.
I called him “Daddy,” a truly Southern term of endearment, and since he was from the Deep South (Mississippi), it was an appropriate title for him.
Here are a few of my gardening projects that he would appreciate. So many of the foods and flowers I grow are ones that are reminiscent of Mississippi –Pole Beans, for example, and so much more.
I would say that at the top of the list I’d find peanuts! I remember these from the home of my Grandpa Jones (above). He always grew the best peanuts right in his front yard. Here are mine just starting to sprout.
Then of course, there are the figs! The ones in the South were so sweet and juicy. The two I harvested from this little tree last year were just like I remembered. Looks like I’ll get more than two this year.
I can’t forget the gardenias that are synonymous with the South. In my early marriage (1950s) there was a gardenia bush as tall as the roof by my kitchen door in Jackson, Mississippi. Daddy loved gardenias, too, and sometimes wore one in the lapel of his suit on Sunday morning. So far, I haven’t had much luck in growing them here, but I’ve had a couple blooms show up.
Some plants seem to do well by moving the lava rocks, dumping in soil, and putting in a rooted cutting. For regular garden vegetables, however, this method doesn’t work.
The only way to have veggies is to build raised beds. There are many advantages to raised beds, and especially when you are dealing with a yard of lava. With the help of a friend, I built several small beds.
Local friends have a piggery nearby, and they have been helping me out with their dump truck full of cured “pig dirt.” Their real soil, added to the natural by-product of pigs, mixed in with my compost material, creates rich soil. I wish I could cover my whole acre with it! It doesn’t look as big in the picture as it really is (next picture). I’d already used a lot of it before I took this shot.
Gradually, I shoveled buckets of it into the beds with visions of fresh veggies floating through my brain. I’d been hungry for beets, so that was the first thing I planted. They looked so pretty growing in their rows.
The first picture above shows my first harvest of little beets (the other produce there is not from my garden). I cooked up the greens first, because they don’t last very long once they’re picked. I’ve eaten all the beets now, so it’s time to plant more.
I also picked a mess of collards and mustards from the small beds. For just one person, the small beds are ample.
This past week, the same friend helped me build a larger bed out by the shed. We bought 4X4 lumber on sale at Lowe’s and created this 8’X4′ bed. I put cedar mulch in the bottom to keep the soil from dropping down into the lava too quickly, and now I’ve started to shovel in more “pig dirt.” As soon as it’s full of soil, I’ll plant more veggies.
I’ll build a few more of these larger beds. As you can see, it will take a lot of buckets before I fill this bed! This represents only three buckets of “pig dirt.”
I can hardly wait to show you pictures of the new veggies that will be growing here. So far, the wild local mouflin sheep haven’t decided to eat my produce before I do.