Feels Like Spring!

 

When I returned from my trip to California mid-June, I saw how much some of my plants had grown. Of course, a few things had run their course and were regrouping for the next growth spurt.

For instance, a few little snippets of ivy geranium that I’d broken from a friend’s plant had actually grown and was covered with brilliant magenta blossoms. What richness! Above is a single bloom. Here is a view of several together.

 

The brugmansia that had given its first bloom a month before, now had eight trumpets hanging! After waiting several years for a blossom, I can now count on it giving me flowers regularly. Those eight have died now, and six more are waiting to open. I think I was too excited to hold the camera still, or maybe it was the wind blowing the blooms, but you can the difference between my one lonely first bloom and now.

 

I had planted one small piece of orchid cactus given to me by a friend. I started looking up “orchid cactus” with Google and found many sites that said it is neither a member of the orchid family, nor is it a true epiphyllum. So far I haven’t found a site that tells me exactly what it is, other than it is related to a desert cactus. I’ll keep looking. Whatever it may be (or not be), the bloom was beautiful. I found it when I went out to water mid-day on July 3.

 

At the beginning of May, I planted some heritage canna bulbs from Old House Gardens. One was a Florence Vaughn Canna (1893), and the other was a Canna Indica (1596). Until they bloom toward the end of summer or in the fall, the leaves are flamboyant and perky. There is something rather wholesome about having plants from bulbs that come from a line that is over 400 years old!

 

I want to put in a plug here for Old House Gardens. I ordered a sampler package from them online, then got a phone call from a woman there who wanted to know my elevation, what kind of soil I had, typical range of temperature, and the like. Before she put together my sampler, she wanted to know what might grow best here. Everything they sent me has grown beautifully! I can’t say the same thing for another company that sent me bare root plants. After a year, not one of them has done anything! Very disappointing!

These gladiolus bulbs were also from Old House Gardens. This picture was taken on June 27, and they were about half the size they are now. Everything is growing amazingly fast! You can see the cannas growing in several spots behind the glads.

 

This pikake plant was a gift at our Garden Club Christmas party. I have since planted it in the ground in one of my “lasagna” patches and it’s about twice this size. I took this picture because of the blooms, which are incredibly sweet smelling.

 

By the time I take pictures and get them into this blog, the plants have at least doubled in size, but I keep trying to let you know how things are growing. This small potted lime tree was covered with little limes that are now about three times as big. I picked off some of the smaller ones to allow the others to grow to a decent size.

 

There is a fresh crop of veggies coming up, too. Everything here is two or three times this big, also, just since I took these photos two weeks ago!


SUGAR SNAP PEAS

 


STRING BEANS

 


SQUASH VINES

 


MUSTARD GREENS

 


LETTUCE

 

Only a few kale plants came up, but even those few were looking hearty.

 

Then I went out one morning and this is what I saw! Something had completely stripped the leaves. Feeling a bit like I was closing the barn door after the horses were out, I cut the bottom out of yogurt containers and stuck them around each plant. At least it will keep whatever was eating them from getting any new growth. And there are already new leaves cropping up in the middle of this disaster.

 

I did the same thing with the Thai hot peppers that I’d recently planted. I didn’t want the “flesh-eating” bugs to get them, too!

 

I should probably pick off the beautiful flowers from the Siam Basil, but the bees seem to love it, so I just leave them alone. It’s such a treat to see the bees actually working. I may even decide to keep a hive of my own.

 

This photo gives you a better idea of how some of these plants are laid out. At the far end you’ll see the Siam Basil, Holy Basil, and regular Sweet Mammoth Basil. You can see my three Thai hot peppers, and the pathetic stripped kale. At this end is a luxurious patch of Greek oregano. You can probably see the pieces of gutter guard I’ve placed over new seedlings of spicy mesclun and a blend of loose leaf lettuce seedlings. It’s not just bugs I need to watch for, but birds – and Kaimana (my cat) who loves to dig in what he considers his private litter box! In the bottom left-hand corner, you see the source of the squash vine.

 

Here is a closer view of how I’ve put the gutter guard material over the freshly planted seeds. Since I took this picture, the seeds are up about ½ inch. I also placed the same material over okra and arugula seeds.

 

Another good use for gutter guard is shown here. I was sent some heritage Moon ‘n’ Stars watermelon seeds from my Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. I made a circle around each hill with three seeds in each one. Several of them already have sprouts about an inch high. I may even get a watermelon out of this.

 

Several people have asked to see my front garden patch from a couple angles.

 

It doesn’t take a lot of space to provide good food. From these little beds in front, bigger beds in the back, and even the beets growing among the daylilies in my patio, I can keep myself with a healthy supply of food. Here is a bunch of arugula, lettuce, other mixed greens, herbs, and the onion-tasting flowers from the chives – all ready for a big salad. I ate the whole thing, with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and crumbled feta cheese!

 

Writing this has made me hungry! Must be time to go pick a few leaves and eat lunch!

A hui hou!

May Day/Lei Day!


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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.


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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?


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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!


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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!


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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.


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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.


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DONKEY TAIL

 

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


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SALAD GREENS

 

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


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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.


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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!

 

Spring Has Arrived!


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ELHARD’S DONKEYTAIL

 

Do you think my cuttings of donkey tail will ever look like the ones Bob Elhard grows above?


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MY DONKEYTAIL CUTTINGS

 

Even though we don’t have as well-defined a change in season as most locations on the mainland and other parts of the world, there is a certain feel to this time of year. For me, it is a time when I simply have to pull up what has stopped producing and prepare the beds for new plantings. That time came for me this past week. Between the rain and the wind, I was able to do a little of that.

I was down to a few bug-eaten leaves on the mustards and collards, so those were pulled up and fed to the chickens. The same thing was true of my string beans, although I have new beans planted and they are already sticking up their heads.


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STRING BEAN SEEDLINGS

 

I was able to get my potted Bearss Lime into a larger pot. I need to trim this back a little bit, although you aren’t supposed to do a lot of pruning on citrus plants. I still haven’t decided if I’ll keep it in a large pot or if I’ll try to put it into the ground eventually.


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BEARSS LIME

 

The four small beds I have by the driveway were cleared out. I thought I’d empty out the sweet potato bed because it didn’t look like anything was happening, and look what I found! So I replanted a few of the tiny ones.


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FIRST SWEET POTATOES

 

All that is left in the other three small beds is one pineapple that is slowly growing, the chives, and cilantro. You can see that I’ve put scrap pieces of lattice behind the back two beds. When I plant things like eggplant or bitter melon, they can grow up and over the lattice.


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SMALL EMPTY BEDS

 

You may remember where I wrote about my “pig dirt” in other posts. Here it is as I was hauling buckets of it into other areas of my plot. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to see how high this pile is because of the angle of the camera.


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PILE OF PIG DIRT

 

I finally got down far enough that it wasn’t feasible to keep shoveling it up and into buckets. So I decided to put a border of lava stones around the outside. I thought I would make a large round bed for planting. Here is my meager beginning of that process. You can see the veggies still growing in the small beds.


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PARTIAL ROUND BED

 

A friend commented that I wasn’t creating a round bed, but a square bed with rounded corners. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but with a little work, it’s starting to take shape. I still need to put more stones on the larger side to delineate the path where I’ll put black cinder.


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ROUND BED TAKING SHAPE

 

Here is a close up of the small crescent bed on the left. You can see where I’ve put small stones to divide it into patches. I’ve put in three kinds of basil and Greek oregano. Everything is starting to sprout.


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CRESCENT BED

 

It feels like everything in my yard is without color, that it’s all just a shade of gray and an occasional touch of light green, but this is that “in between time” before things start to look lush again.

I have a few patches in all my beds that haven’t been planted yet. The seed packets are on my table, ready for sowing. This next week is Spring Break, so maybe I’ll be able to get around to a few gardening activities.

Have you started your compost pile yet?

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