All Is Not Lost!

Mahalo to those of you who have sent condolences about my drought-ridden garden! I have a tendency to get discouraged, and wonder if we will ever get rain. It looks like I’ll need to order my fifth load of water for the catchment tank this next week, unless we get a heavy rain in the meantime (which doesn’t look likely).

Mostly it’s been my vegetable garden that has suffered. I can’t seem to get enough water on them, no matter how hard I try. My attempt to conserve water for personal use (like bathing, flushing, and cooking) means I can’t water as often or as deep as I’d like. What my veggies need is a nice overhead soaking from the skies. Anyone know how to teach me to do a rain dance out there??

All is not lost, however. Like the new sprout at the bottom of my red ti plant above, there is still life. For some strange reason, my flowers are doing well. There is just enough of a mist occasionally to keep my brilliant nasturtiums blooming and spreading.

The geraniums don’t seem to need as much water as other plants. In fact, these magenta ivy geraniums are going crazy. I need to do a “dead head” job on them, but they are a gorgeous spot of color from my kitchen window.

The pikake blooms are sweet smelling and provide a nice contrast to the magenta behind them.

I’ve tried to pick my figs regularly, even though I only get one or two a week. They are a little morsel of flavor. Perhaps someday I’ll get enough to actually make some fig jam! I was about a day too late to pick these two. The birds got there first.

One plant that doesn’t need much watering and seems to keep growing during this drought is the tillandsia cyanea (Pink Quill), part of the Bromeliad family. Mine are all full of the pink brachts with tiny purple flowers. Locally, many call this “Kamehameha’s Paddles.”

Most everything that is in a pot seems to have fared much better, but even then they need a constant watching. I have two of these cardoon (also called artichoke thistle). It is a relative of the Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) and is grown for its stem, which I assume is cooked up for eating. I’ve never grown this before so it will be an interesting experiment. Does anyone know if the thistle can be eaten like a regular artichoke?

These four basils grown in pots are doing well. They are purple basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, and sweet basil. They are right outside my kitchen door for handy use. The basil I planted in the ground was eaten by birds before I even had a chance to cover them with netting. Fast and hungry critters, they are!

This broad-leaf sage is doing quite well in a pot. I transplanted it from the ground in order to keep it going. It was starting to die in the ground, but has made an amazing come-back.

This little society garlic is in a pot for now. I may move it to the ground somewhere once the rains come.

Plants like hibiscus and geraniums don’t have much trouble surviving.

The lime tree was taken out of a large pot and put into the ground a couple months ago, and it’s doing well. There are already new blossoms on it. I tripled the number of drips going to it since the palms and bromeliads (on the same drip system) didn’t need as much.

I planted several stems of this purple flower and those have taken root quite well. They are now providing me with lovely blooms. Many friends say they have this plant, but don’t know the name of it. If anyone can tell me, please write!

This was another twig given to me. There was a bunch of this growing in Monty’s and Bob’s garden that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Bob called it “Jessup” but I haven’t been able to find anything about it on Google. I keep getting sent to people and places, but not to a plant. Another one that I don’t know. Any suggestions?

Of course, I find it impossible to kill my red chard. It tastes so good in a quick stir-fry with garlic and olive oil. For every leaf I pick, two more come up! A small patch of this keeps me in good greens.

This poha (Cape Gooseberry) is growing quite well, too. I’ve been saving up some of the berries to plant so I can get more bushes. I just had a bowl of poha ice cream in downtown Kona this past week. Absolutely wonderful!

The leaves on this petite orchid don’t look healthy, but the delightful blooms (less than an inch across) are poking out to be admired.

This tri-color stromanthe is managing to survive. I love the three colors of this striking plant.

At last, these three donkey tails found a home in hanging planters right outside my dining room window. They sat on my front steps for over a year, so some of them are not hanging down as straight as they would ordinarily. They have not needed much water to keep growing. Maybe as they get longer and heavier, they will straighten out.

Out of all the seeds I planted of this Thai hot pepper, only two survived. I gave one to a friend as a gift, and this one I’ll keep. Last year, I got dozens of peppers from one plant and since only one or two of these tiny peppers are more than enough for a good hot flavor, one plant is probably enough. I’ll put this in a larger pot next week.

I have about six or seven of these seeds for a Sago Palm (Cycad) that were harvested by a friend on Maui. They had to be soaked, then stripped, and planted on their sides, half-way submerged in soil. They are starting to split and this one is even showing a bit of green. They are very slow growing, so maybe my grandchildren will see a plant from these seeds.

This is an autograph tree given to me by a colleague. It has been growing nicely, but you can see that something bigger than a bug (probably the mouflin sheep) has been taking huge bites out of the leaves. Animals are looking for anything they can find that might provide them with a little moisture.

One triumphant story is the cauliflower. Just a few weeks ago, I went out to find the leaves stripped down to the center vein. Most people have agreed that it is more than likely the caliche pheasants. I continued to water them, wondering if they would revive. Voila! They have huge leaves again and just might make it. I’ll try to put something over them so the caliche won’t get them again.

So that’s the latest from the lava field. My posts have slowed down a bit lately, but each fall semester, I teach five college courses. That takes up most of my spare writing time. Once I’m back into a good rhythm of school, I’ll do better.

A hui hou!

Palms of Spring

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Just a couple weeks ago on March 11, Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota held a celebration in honor of three separate religious holidays falling on the same day. The three holidays were Jewish Purim (celebrating the story of Queen Esther), Hindu Holi (celebrating several Hindu myths and springtime), and Muslim Mawlid al-Nabi (celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad).

Now we have moved into April and there are other religious festivals to celebrate. In the Jewish tradition, this is near the time of Pesach, or what we commonly call Passover. This year, it begins at sundown on Wednesday, April 8 and commemorates their Exodus from Egypt out of slavery.

In the Christian tradition, today is Palm Sunday in remembrance of Jesus’ triumphant ride into the city of Jerusalem. The people expected him to liberate them from the oppressive government, so they were excited to see him and spread palm branches on the road before him. It is in honor of that day that this post focuses on palms.

The opening photo is looking up into a tall coconut palm in a friend’s yard over in Na`alehu, loaded with coconuts. I just hoped none would fall on me as I was taking the picture.

The tall palms all over Hawai`i are beautiful, although not native. Here is one in the middle of the Ala Moana Shopping Center on Oahu.

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When I visited some of the Hawai`ian sacred sites in Hilo with a group of students last month, I took these pictures of the tall palms scattered around the area.

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Then we have the banana palm trees. Here is a small one in a friend’s yard. I have a few but they are still way too small to even think about bearing.

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This little coconut palm in my yard has a long way to go to match the one on top of this post! It has been badly damaged by the wind and sulfur dioxide.

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I was given this saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) in a large pot by another friend.

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Since then I have taken it out of the pot and planted it in the ground.

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve been putting in triangle palms (Neodypsis decaryi) to line my driveway. Here are a couple of photos to show you. Maybe in about five years or so, they’ll be closer to the size I want. This shot was taken before my driveway was put in.

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This shows the cinder dumped onto the driveway, with a friend and his son on the bobcat, ready to grade it down for me.

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This gift triangle was already about three times as big when I got it as the others I have. Such a prize!

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Then I was given four small triangles to put into the ground. One has made it, but the other three are still waiting to be planted. Someday I’ll get around to it – along with all my other projects!

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Perhaps someday, mine will be as big as the one a friend has on Maui. He planted these in 2003.

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A post on palms wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the “Sago Palm,” which isn’t even a palm at all! I think people call it a “palm” because of the way the branches look, but it is really a cycad. Perhaps I’ll do a post on that another day. Here is one that belongs to my friend on Maui.



If you are interested in knowing more about the various religious holidays I’ve mentioned, check out one of the following websites. I highly recommend this Interfaith calendar that lists all the religious festivals. The Religious Tolerance site is also very informative.

Time to go water my palms!

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