Monday, March 30, 2009

Shopping bags galore!

I am so bad! I have all these reusable shopping bags (and a few others not shown here) and for some reason, they don't find their way into the grocery store with me and when I asked, "Paper or plastic?" I cringe to realize I've forgotten again!  I keep thinking, BUT I HAVE SO MANY in the car!  

A few months ago, I made a pact to myself that I would go back to the car to get my shopping bags if I ever forgot them. It worked! The hassle of going back to the car broke my really bad habit after a few times. Anyone else ever have this problem?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

At three weeks

The roots are starting to grow into the nutrient water that is being aerated using a small air pump that pumps air through a hose, through an aerating stone at the bottom of this 30 gallon tub. The clips on the side are keeping the lid on, otherwise, the pressure and weight of all that water would bowl out the tub and pop the lid off. At the moment, it is totally dark in there, retarding any algal growth inside the water. This lettuce was developed at the University of Hawaii but the stalk is rather thin and not hearty at all. It may because of the reduced light on my front porch, resulting in a spindly stem. I'm going to try another kind of lettuce next time.

I already clipped some lettuce leaves for a salad. Niiiice!

At two weeks

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hydroponics or bust!

This is hydroponics for dummies. Seriously. It's a deep water culture method and seems to be easy enough for beginner, like moi.  I will have to explain the set up in another post since I'm trying to get a drawing done but essentially, this is a 30 gal tub filled with water and nutrients with air pumped through an airstone to circulate and aerate the water. Theoretically, the roots grow down into the water and grow like mad.  They are supposed to vegetate much quicker than in soil so we shall see. This is the first picture I took a week ago. You will be amazed how fast they've grown since. Stand by for more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

: (

This is why they say not to put undiluted worm leachate on your plants! Sheesh, I know what I read but MY plants are tough and hearty and can withstand just about anything because I love em so much! Right? LOL Yeah, reality hurts sometimes.

I've only lost 3 plants. The others are fine. So, let this be a lesson, dilute your worm leachate before watering your plants. I tried to leach the stuff out of the soil by watering it a lot so we'll see if that works.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For the love of chickens

I know I said I got my hens for their eggs but really, they provide much more than food. They are hilarious and provide hours and hours of entertainment. Seriously. I'm really one of those people that used to find it pretty silly for people to call their chickens "girls" and "my flock" but I think I've been bitten by the fowl bug and now count myself as one of those "people." My evening entertainment (oh my, I can't believe I'm admiting this ... ) is to let the hens roam around the yard while I sit with Kanoe to watch the scratching and squawking goings on. If you suffer from high blood pressure like I do, this is THE PERFECT stress relief! So, in lieu of meds, take two hens and call me in the morning!!!!

PS: Sorry about the dark photos on my blog so far. I leave the house early and get home late so it's usually late when I can take pics.

Name that fruit!

Our Farmer's Market rocks!!!! I don't know the name of all these fruit but I bought them at my local farmer's market in downtown Hilo at the corner of Kamehameha Highway and Mamo Street. The market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays but you can find vendors there throughout the week. It's a great place to find organic fruits and vegetables and on a practical level, the produce is really inexpensive so very easy on the pocket book. Supporting our local farmers is a great way to promote island subsistence and get inexpensive super fresh produce. For example, you can usually get 3-6 solo or rainbow papayas for $1! I spring a little more for my daily strawberry papaya but they are still only 4 for $2!

Ok, here is the list from top to bottom, counterclockwise in each bowl (some of the fruit is imported but most are locally grown):
Bowl 1: Kabocha pumpkin
Bowl 2: Strawberry papaya, purple sweet potato, ginger, tomatoes, mandarins
Bowl 3: Persimmons, pulasan, dragon fruit (yellow pitaya), dragon fruit (red pitaya), rambutan
Bowl 4: longan (Tiger's eye)

Monday, March 2, 2009

I LOVE Worm Poop!

Worm poop. Yeah, you know that stuff that goes in one end of an earthworm and then out the other? If you take issue with "worm poop" you could call it "worm castings". Worm castings are high in nitrogen and in a form that is readily taken up by plants so they make a great fertilizer. I read online that you could also use "worm leachate" for fertilizer (or what I call worm poop sludge). It is that liquid that drips out the bottom of your worm bin. Admittedly, it doesn't smell at all but it looks like crap! So I tried it and well, the results are obvious. All of the plants are the same age. I treated the ones on the left side of the pic with leachate a couple weeks ago and the ones on the right only this weekend. If your plants looked anything like this, I bet you'd love worm poop too!

These marigolds were grown from seeds from my wonderful friend Kate Rietz.

* Note that this worm bin leachate can actually be harmful to your plants if it has material that is still decomposing, which produces alcohols that are toxic to plants. You take your chances tho'. You can guarantee your results by making your own "worm tea" by putting mature worm castings in cheesecloth and soaking the ball in water that is aerated with an air pump and air stone for awhile.

Vermicomposting in Hawaii

One way to reduce your garbage is to compost kitchen scraps and green waste, thereby reducing our carbon footprint on earth and save yourself from beastly fruit flies! Believe me, I tried composting outside ... you know pile the kitchen scraps outside with the garden cuttings and hope for the best. Well, if you are like me or most of the other people 've talked to, you will undoubtedly develop problems with RATS! Bad news!

When I saw this video on YouTube, I knew I had to look into this further ...

What? I can compost INDOORS!?! I figured this was the answer to my prayers! So, I started my beginners vermicomposting bin at the beginning of December, just like the one on the video. It is my attempt to control my yucky garbage issue at home (I take mine to the dump and before I can get there, my garbage starts to stink to high heaven). Figured I'd be green too so, hey, I can kill two birds with one stone (that's a bad reference, isn't it?). It's a win-win situation, right? Believe me, finding worms that are legal is difficult in Hawaii (more about my worm fiasco later). We use Indian Blue Worms more commonly here (the video shows red wrigglers). I'll share my pics soon, if I can get those darn things to stay still and pose!

Remember: Shipping worms to Hawaii is illegal without proper procedures so please review Hawaii's Agricultural rules before you attempt to buy or ship any! It could cost you up to $25,000!

Here are some resources for composting with worms in Hawaii that I found useful:
1. Waikiki Worm Company: Mindy Jaffe, owner, is a great resource and understands the challenges and benefits of vermicomposting in Hawaii. She's committed to helping us beginners and was wonderful in responding to my emails quickly and connecting me to her supplier on the Big Island.
2. Hawaii Rainbow Worms: Piper Seldon, owner, sells larger vermicomposting units.
2. Small Scale Vermicomposting by the Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
3. Vermicomposting in Hawaii video, produced by CTHR, available here.
4. Check out YouTube vermicomposting videos. They're fascinating!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The freshest eggs ever!

Lily's egg from the coop to the table. Can't get fresher than this!

PS: That speck on my eggs is black pepper, sorta like that mole on Marilyn Monroe.

Fresh, organic eggs? You've gotta be kidding!

I always thought that fresh organic eggs were a great idea but come on, who would want to keep their own chickens anyway?! Don't they smell?

How wrong could I be! While attending the Sustainability Conference in town in November, I noticed a few of these really cool Silkie chickens hanging out with a guy, "Just Tom*" (no, really, that's his name). They were for sale and I knew I had to have these fluffballs. I figured my dream of having eggs whenever I wanted could really be a reality.

So, I went about building my two hens, Lily and Daisy, a little cottage-style "coop," which was quite an endeavor. If you're interested in checking out my coop construction page, it's here.

If you're interested in raising your own chickens for eggs or for meat, the Backyard Chickens Forum is a great resource that covers just about every aspect of raising chickens. They boast over 22,000 members and I swear, there are people there that can answer just about any question you may have. So even if you're a beginner like me, you won't feel like you're going it alone. Also, the Backyard Chicken website has construction pages of over 150 small to large chicken coops, if you want some ideas to build your own.

*Email me if you want Just Tom's contact info.

"Think Globally, Act Locally"

I am your average Jo. The hype of the elections is over and we are all getting back to our own center of focus, dealing with our day-to-day lives. Some of us are struggling to keep our jobs or making ends meet. Some are worried about our children's education or about the number of guns on our streets. But if you're like me, you still feel that sense of hope that things will get better. Of course some of it has to do with a new President whose ideals are similar to mine, perhaps idealistic and realistic at the same time. I can get on that bandwagon. But it is also the realization that it is not our President that will make things better singly but a whole nation.

I created this blog to document my progress in helping, in my very small way, to make my community a better place ... and maybe in the process, if we all did the same, we'd have an impact on a state level, then a country level. Wouldn't it be grand if we could say we made a positive difference in the world?