Last of Summer Gardening

Nothing spells the approach of autumn better than a bright orange pumpkin patch. How my daughter manages to get such beautiful pumpkins is beyond me! Many of you have been keeping up with my daughter Inga’s gardening in Boise, Idaho. Here is an update on what’s growing in her yard, including the pumpkin above.

Her yard is full of orange and yellow blossoms, just ready to produce fruit, but beautiful in their own right.

I have an old wooden ladder in my shed. I need to drag it out and use it as a backdrop for some plants (if the drought will let something grow)!

She finds odd bits of metalwork to add a fanciful touch to her garden.

I love the brilliance of sunflowers – another touch of the approaching fall season.

She tells me of all the wonderful fresh veggies she brings in for her supper.

But the biggest envy I have is for her “taters!” Inga and I just love our fingerling potatoes, sliced and fried in butter with fresh eggs!

I promise her (and myself) that I will get to Boise next summer and enjoy the garden with her.

A hui hou!

Gazpacho with Crumbled Feta Cheese

I learned about Gazpacho when I first moved to California in 1960. It was a huge fad at that time, and I was knocked over by it! It’s been called everything, including “liquid salad,” but whatever you call it, it’s simply delicious!

This may seem like a summer-only dish to many of the mainlanders, but in California, and especially here in Hawai`i, we can eat it year-round.

The beauty of a healthy serving of Gazpacho is that you can put almost any kind of raw veggie into it. Take your pick from:

fresh tomatoes (about 2-3 pounds cut into quarters, skin and all)
cucumber
carrots
onion
bell peppers (I used a combination of orange, red, yellow baby bells)
garlic
hot pepper (maybe a Jalepeño)

Zap it up in a blender or food processor until thick and chunky.

Store it in the fridge until it’s good and cold.

Ladle it into a bowl, top with crumbled feta and sprigs of cilantro.

To go with this, I like to serve a good loaf of crunchy rustic bread fresh from the oven, and maybe a big hunk of sharp cheese.

Dig in!

Gardening From A to Z

Two of my favorite landscapers (Bob and Monty) invited a group of us “tree huggers” to come tour their garden. Since the land on their property is much like that of Ocean View, I gathered lots of how-to ideas on what to grow and what not to grow.

Their elevation is about the same as mine (2300 feet), same rocky lava ground, with perhaps a little more rainfall than I receive, although everyone is experiencing the drought now. Even without much rain this year, my first impression of their acreage was very tropical, what mainlanders picture as being “Hawai`i.”

Since I have said this post is about gardening from A to Z, I suppose I’d better start with A. The rest of the alphabet will be mixed up, however, and maybe I’ll end up at Z!

I love these large deep blue Agapanthus, shown here in front of Stromanthe. The Agapanthus in my garden is smaller and more of a baby blue.

The guys have concentrated their efforts on saving the native Hawai`ian trees, like this tall ‘Ohe Makai by their gate. Like many of the Hawai`ian natives, this particular tree is on the endangered list.

A couple of other native plants they have growing are the Ulei or Hawaiian Rose . . .

. . . and the Hala Pepe.

According to Wikipedia, there are seven native Hawaiian hibiscus species. The striking native white hibiscus is one of those.

Monty’s primary interest seems to be the palms. Soft paths through the palms were everywhere.

I lost track of how many varieties of palms we saw. It seemed like we walked for miles through palm groves.

What rests below the top layer of rocks is one of the factors we all deal with here. If the drainage is stopped by a solid layer of lava, plants don’t grow well. Of those palms planted at the same time, some are quite tall, and others look like they have never grown, due to this layer that hinders root growth.

This Fishtail Palm could be one of the largest of its kind. They are rapid growers and intimidate all the other palms.

No tropical garden is complete without its anthurium plants. . .

. . . or ginger . . .

. . . or banana. This particular banana is not common. (Dare I say it’s “rare”?) It puts out two stalks of bananas each time. If you look closely, you can see them. Even the keiki (babies) that come up after the mama plant has died have the double growth.

Bob tells the story of them going to a nursery in Pahoa to buy a rhododendron, and came home with 39 of them! He said to place the plant on top of the lava, then mound cinder around it. The roots will go down between the big rocks and the small feeder roots will spread out into the cinder. I’m going to try (just) one, I think.

Spots of color were scattered throughout the acreage.

Tucked here and there were other familiar plants, such as donkey tail, ti plants, butterfly bush, and stromanthe.

We saw a few familiar plants in a variety that weren’t as typical as what we have in our own gardens, like this tri-colored jade and variegated monstera.

There were several healthy specimens of staghorn fern.

Various protea are usually found in our tropical gardens, like these banksia (not in bloom at this time), king and pincushion proteas shown here.

For me, one of the most stunning flowers was the passion flower, not the same as the lilikoi we normally have growing.

It seems everyone is suffering from either drought, effects of vog, or critters like rats, sheep, pigs, caliche pheasants. A few veggies are still producing here.

I particularly loved the delicate little “society garlic.” I was given a few small bulbs to bring home and plant. The flower can be tossed into a salad and the flavor is heavenly. My car probably still smells like garlic (not an unpleasant odor for me)!

Bob said his primary passion is xeriscaping, which is designed to reduce the amount of water generally needed for growth. That means succulents and other drought-resistant plants. I have some of these in my own garden, and I plan to do more.

At the entryway to their home are these lovely cycads, both male and female. Need I point out which is which? It’s the biggest one, of course. (smile)

I started this post with A=Agapanthus. Even though this bromeliad is called “tiger-striped bromeliad, I’ll pretend it’s a Z=Zebra-striped bromeliad to keep with the alphabet theme. (Don’t tell on me!)

A touch of serenity concludes the tour.

Enjoy this slideshow for more pictures than I could include in this post, and for individual shots of those plants I’ve made into a collage.

Click here to view the slideshow. If it takes you to a web page instead of the slide show, click on “slideshow” in the upper left hand corner.

A hui hou!

August 2010 Update

GARDEN CLUBBERS
GARDEN CLUBBERS

(photo courtesy of Charles Tobias)

 

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!

A hui hou!

 

Summer Patio in Boise

Several weeks ago, I showed Inga’s garden, promising a review of her latest project – a roof to provide shade for her patio. I just received the pictures for your enjoyment. As you can see, her father and brother-in-law pitched in to help. Inga and her sister kept everyone supplied in nourishment and beverage.

There’s something wrong with this picture! While we struggle to get through a drought here in Paradise, my daughter’s Boise patio looks more tropical than our own tropics! Of course, a mister system helps.

I am impressed with her ability to make such a small space hold so much and still look spacious. I can’t seem to get that effect on an entire acre.

Even the necessary utilitarian area is beautiful.

So many beautiful things growing!

I keep trying to get a few tomatillos to grow. She has no problem.

Her fruit trees keep her well supplied.

With so many things growing . . .

. . . it’s a wonder she has a chance to sit here and relax!

As always, I get lots of ideas for my own patio and garden.
Mahalo nui loa, Inga!

A hui hou!

Boise Gardening

 

As I work in my own garden, I watch some plants thrive while others struggle for survival. So I love to see the gardens other people put together.

 

In the past, I’ve written about my daughter’s small historic home in Boise, Idaho. I’ve shown her garden as it makes the seasonal transitions through snow and spring. Each time I see her newest pictures I get ideas and inspiration.

 

When she visited me here in Hawai`i this past spring, she installed the beginnings of a new drip system, which I was able to expand over the following months. Now, even though it might be a lost cause here on my lava field, I’m trying to figure out how I can put in a brick patio!

 

People talk about edible gardens, but my daughter has taken it to a new level. Without a lot of front yard space, she utilizes the space between her downtown sidewalk and the street to great advantage. How in the world does she keep anyone from helping themselves?

 

I have a couple of blueberry bushes in my garden that were designed for subtropical climates, but they don’t look nearly as healthy as these.

 

Every spare inch of space is used for flowers, veggies and herbs.

 

Looks like she has an eager helper.

 

Even fruit trees have found their home in her tiny garden!

 

I really do envy her little lean-to greenhouse.

 

She recently added a roof overhang for her patio so she can sit in the shade and sip tea while her drip system does the watering for her. I don’t have pictures of that yet, but I’m sure you will see those soon. In the meantime, enjoy this stroll through a small garden in Boise.

 

A hui hou!

A Time to Plant…

 

It’s always time to plant here, but I haven’t had the chance to really concentrate on it lately. With the springs semester finished and graduation over, I’ve been enjoying my time with soil and seed.

 

The plastic containers that had contained Costco cherries, tomatoes, blueberries, and other berries had small holes to allow the water to seep through. I put a coffee filter in the bottom of each one, then filled them with potting soil.

 

Saved fudgesicle sticks made good markers. The lids of the containers protect the seeds and future seedlings from birds and other critters, while letting the sun get through. It’s easy to sprinkle them with water.

I’ll keep you posted on their growth (or non-growth)! I’m trying to keep an optimistic attitude.

 

My list: zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan squash, acorn squash, kabocha, tomatillos, fennel, thai peppers, cauliflower, artichokes, roma tomatoes, eggplant, kale

A hui hou!