Friday, May 8, 2015

Tiny vegetable garden

Veggies anyone?

To be honest, there was a day not long ago that I detested arugula. Ick! Several months ago, I decided I needed to eat more salads so every day, I'd pack my lunch with a huge salad with some kind of protein like chicken or fish (and sometimes some local grass-fed beef). I'd joke that I was loving it but from the look on my face, everyone KNEW it was a painful exercise. Day after day (and I rarely missed a day), I'd pack my salad and something happened about 3 weeks into my new practice, I started to look forward to my lunches. I felt better, I felt good about giving my body organic greens, and I didn't need to use any dressings any more. Amazingly, arugula is now one of my favorite greens! 

My little garden is only 3 ft by 4 ft (12 sq ft) so it's tiny but it's flourishing and although I pick my salad every day, there is always more the following day! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Earth Day Project

Earth Day is a time to celebrate the planet we share and to put into practice the things that will care for it. Seeing the pattern of carbon extruded into the air from Asia, the global warming trends, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and human-caused impacts on our environment is daunting. But the eternal optimist in me says that if our thought patterns change about our responsibility for it, one person at a time, we will make a difference. Once our community leaders understand this, our state and country leaders will understand this. Then perhaps real change is possible.

In honor of my planet and my commitment to be less dependent on imported foods, I started another garden bed outside my kitchen door on Earth Day. Yes, it's a small one and no, it might not change the world. But, growing some of my own food has changed ME. Caring for my garden means I am focusing less on my troubles of the day and instead invest that energy positively. I can feed my friends and family and know the care that I've imparted to my garden plants will provide nutrition and sustenance for the people I care about. Trying to grow the plants organically means that I am much more in tune with the cycle of life in my garden. I am willing to share some of them with the critters that come to visit (tho' not slugs ... slugs that carry rat lung disease is serious business here). 

I am a botanist by training and an endangered species botanist by career and I am continually fascinated by plants so sometimes I just stare and admire my garden and nature just outside my door. Native birds sing outside, a native rain forest surrounds my home, and my garden plants thrive in the whatever light that shines through the hapu`u (tree ferns). When I take a moment to appreciate it all, my heart swells and I feel immense gratitude for my garden, for my forest, for my island and state, for my country, and for my planet and the people on it. So no, a tiny garden bed in tiny Volcano Village won't change the world but despite that I'd say, my tiny garden results in very, very good changes indeed.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The pulse of the planet

I live on an active volcano, Kilauea. Being so close to new earth being formed, it is a constant reminder that we, humans, are merely minute participants on this really awesome planet. This is a scene at Halema`uma`u Crater just 3 miles from my home as the crow flies. For this eruption, this is the first time the lava pool has reached so close to the surface that it's been visible from the Jaggar Overlook. Tutu Pele showed us her beautiful display of spewing magma tonight! I am in total awe!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Growing my own food

Manoa lettuce, chives, arugula

My nightly task: picking out slugs and caterpillars with my trusty flashlight in hand. Score: 2 leopard slugs, 5 smaller slugs, 9 giant dark gray caterpillars (edit: they're cutworms!), 6 green caterpillars, and a zillion aphids and whiteflies.

I am in a quandry. Is there a humane way to dispatch them quickly and painlessly? They are all non-native (i.e. don't belong) so taking them elsewhere doesn't seem like a reasonable choice. Any suggestions?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Raised garden bed in Volcano

My raised garden beds just outside the kitchen door

At just under 4,000 ft in elevation, Volcano is nice and cool and water is rarely an issue so perfect for leafy vegetables. So, about 3 weeks ago and with the help from my Goddaughter, I started another raised garden bed for rainbow chard, arugula, lettuce, and spinach. I added some chives a week later. To make use of every bit of space, I snuck in a couple rows of lettuce for microgreens that I plan to collect before my lettuces get too big. I've been eating a lot of salads these days so I'm pretty sure I could eat all of the greens in a couple meals so I'm thinking another bed is in order!

The smaller boxes, started about 2 weeks ago, contain cilantro (foreground) and mesclun (background) and to increase the chances of getting a few harvests before my cilantro bolts, I am trying this cilantro-growing technique that I found on Pinterest. I'm really hopeful and will post pics as my plants mature. :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vog 1, Sage 0

There are plants that are just susceptible to vog and that includes sage. Vog is volcanic fog/smog and is comprised of sulfuric acid and other sulfates when carbon dioxide that the volcano emits mixes with water and oxygen. Halemaumau Crater is just 3 miles from where I live (as the crow flies) so you can imagine that we get vog every now and again. One day this week tho', it settled like fog and stuck around for a bit.

My sage had been growing really well with the rest of my herbs in my garden bed but then one vog event and the leaves shriveled and died! The other herbs got it too but the sage got hit the worst. Anyone from Volcano have any suggestions on protecting delicate plants from vog?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Raised herb garden

I've finally started my herb garden in Volcano! It took awhile to find the spot with the most sun but I've gotten it situated to receive just about as much sun as it can get. From top left to the bottom right, I have lemon grass, rosemary, dill, sage, crinkly and Italian parsley, mint, and thyme. I'm thrilled to be able to grow my own food, even if it means starting small with my herb garden. The soil is fortified with prepared rabbit manure (thanks to Murk, my angora rabbit) so I expect vigorous growth soon! :D