Monday, April 27, 2009

Fruit Flies and Pantyhose

I often troll Freecycle Big Island, a wonderful local online recycling community moderated by Sonia Martinez through Yahoo Groups, to pickup freebies for my garden and to disperse my reusable items to fellow treasure-seekers. Today I spotted someone’s request for old pantyhose to be used as fruit fly control, which intrigued me.

I never liked washing out pantyhose, let alone wearing them for the, ahem, pun intended, brief time I worked in the corporate world. And in Hawai'i, whoever wears them must have to work at an extremely unpleasant place. So let’s make this official – wearing pantyhose in Hawai'i is hereby declared a serious crime requiring aggressive rehab, unless innocently worn by a vegetable that doesn’t know any better.

That said, I think, perhaps, here is some advice with real legs.

Call your local University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension office (UH CTAHR) and talk to the UH Master Gardeners – the numbers are listed on the lower right hand column of this blog. First, they can help you identify your particular fruit fly – Melon, Mediterranean, Oriental or Solanaceous. Then they can recommend effective steps for control. There are different traps, baits, and lures depending on the species. UH master gardeners are collecting data on fruit fly infestation and control and are currently providing free information to the public; they also have low-cost lures and traps available. Click here for “How-to” pdfs you can download from Hawaii Areawide Fruit Fly Pest Management Program (HAW-FLYPM). Navigate to UNI-FLY-VERSITY, 'Take Home' Material.

Here’s another successful tip. One master gardener I know swears by the mosquito netting he buys from the local army surplus store - he drapes an insect-proof tent over his container-grown tomatoes.

Hawaii Island Master Gardeners will have a fruit fly information display in their booth at the Puna Sustainability Fair in Pahoa Village on Saturday, May 9, 8 am to 5 pm. Check it out if you’re in the area.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pining for Pineapple

Acres and acres of grassland and Cook Pines -- they look like Norfolk pines, those living Christmas trees we like to grow in Hawai'i -- but no pineapples. That’s pretty much all you see when you fly into Lana'i these days. Gone are the vast stretches of black polyethelene plastic mulch with spiky pineapple plants poking through. Maui and O'ahu still have some commercial production, but Lanai’s economy is now based in the hospitality industry, primarily the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele and Four Seasons Manele Bay resorts.The Koele resort’s garden walk is quite stunning in scale and scope, not to mention its unusual English style...

Quite a stark contrast to the local-style home gardens seen around town, which sort of run the gamut from this... this....

So are there no pineapples at all on Lana'i? Of course there are. There are some nice ones at Alberta de Jetley's place, the only farm left on Lana'i (pop. 3,000) I'm told. Alberta is using organic methods on her diversified farm.

Speaking of diversified agriculture, this past Easter in Lana'i City's town center there was a tree bearing some exotic fruit -- not to be confused with eggplant, the Lana'i plastic eggtree...

Growing pineapple in your backyard is fairly easy. Save a crown from a delicious one you’ve eaten, and you’ll have a tasty clone to munch on. Let the crown dry for a few days before planting. Pineapple likes acid soils, fair weather – not too wet – and has high needs for nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and iron (Fe). If you fertilize organically with animal manures, you can skip applying iron. Pineapples usually begin flowering in December and are harvested about 6 to 8 months later.

Want to know how pineapple is grown commercially in Hawai'i? Click here.

From Lana'i, with Love

Just got back from a first-time visit to beautiful Lana'i, where Mike Carroll Gallery hosted a fantastic book-signing event for Pulelehua and Mamaki. Over 80 people attended – the whole island has a population of only 3,000 so that’s a pretty good turnout, I’d say.

Mike and Kathy Carroll and their staff did an incredible job in making this an event to remember for honorees and guests, complete with butterfly cookies and “book cover” cookies! Congratulations to all the Lana'i school children who participated in the art contest – nice work!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Short Circuit in the Lo'i

Shades of "Silent Running" -- MIT students have created gardening robots. Google that, and you'll come up with even more.

The idea, they say, is to create workers to do the difficult work of agriculture. It's hard to resist the seduction of technology, but of course such inventions are really just sustaining the model of agribusiness and large corporate farms.

If they can get robots to wade without getting stuck in the mud of a taro patch to pick off all the apple snails, maybe I'll be convinced. But let me plant my own huli -- I need the exercise, sunshine and fresh air.

Plant Yourself at Lyon Arboretum
If you’re on Oahu this weekend, check out the Lyon Arboretum Plant Sale at the Blaisdell Center, Saturday, April 11. There will be plants, plants and more plants for sale -- 30 vendors, and native plants from the arboretum -- educational displays, and children’s activities. Call (808) 988-0472.

Classes at Lyon Arboretum in April:
Water Gardens 2, Saturday, April 18, 9:30 to 11:30 am, $15
Flower Arrangements: Outdoor Installations, Friday, April 24, 9:00 to 11:30 am, $10
Call (808) 988-0461 or (808) 988-0465.

Register now for summer keiki camps for K-4:
Summer Science Explorations, June 15-19, 8 am to 2:30 pm $175
Nature Discovery Camp, June 22-26, 8 am to 2:30 pm, $175

For more info on classes at the Arboretum, click here.

Here Today, Gone to Maui
This Saturday I'm at Borders in Kahului at 10 am; on Lana'i at Mike Carroll Gallery, 3 to 5 pm. See you there!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Native Butterfly Garden: Kipuka Puaulu

To have a true native Hawaiian butterfly garden, you'd have to plant a Hawaiian forest, or live near one. There are only two native butterflies, the Kamehameha Butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) and the Koa Butterfly (Udara blackburni). Both of these butterflies, adults and their larvae, feed on native plant species. At lower elevations especially, predators, parasites, and human activities impacting habitats have contributed to diminishing native Hawaiian butterfly populations, or even eliminating them.

Kipuka Puaulu is one of the few places easily accessible to the public where you still stand a chance at seeing living native butterflies. At Kipuka Puaulu, also known as Bird Park in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, you'll find native plants typical of the mesic forest growing in old, deep ash soil on Mauna Loa: koa, manele, 'ohi'a lehua, papala kepau, palapalai and other ferns, 'ala 'ala wai nui, and of course, mamaki. These natives, with the exceptions of perhaps koa and manele, are fairly easy to grow in your backyard with adequate water, rich soil with good drainage, and half the amount of fertilizer you normally use with non-natives. Although at Kipuka Puaulu was grazed by cattle, pigs and goats into the 1950s, today it is an example of successful resource management, a healthy forest that has been protected and replanted.

VIDEO: A walk through Kipuka Puaulu and a reading of excerpts from Pulelehua and Mamaki, at the mamaki grove under the koa trees, with yours truly.

Pulelehua and Mamaki is featured in this week's Big Island Weekly. To read the article, click here.