Monday, June 29, 2009

Reuse and Rethink

This quaint greenhouse and potting shed is nestled in the delightful organic garden of Leslie Laird of Volcano. Leslie’s greenhouse features recycled materials such as reused windows from a coffee shack in Kona. One big multi-paned glass window is mounted sideways on hinges on one side of the greenhouse, sort of like a cold frame; it lets in light and can be opened or closed to regulate air circulation and temperature.

Her garden is a diverse display of her adventuresome approach to gardening. If it sounds intriguing, she’ll try it. Hugging the stepping stone path leading up to the greenhouse are plants she has grown for the first time...

Cleome. Before the blossoms appeared, her son thought she was growing marijuana…

Wild arugula. Looks great, the taste packs a punch, too…

Salad burnet. Grows incredibly well in her location. She likes the way it looks, but doesn’t really like the taste, and has way too much of it.

Here’s a list of some of the other things growing.
Won bok, green onion, tatsoi, celery, purple snap beans, broccoli, mustard greens, Asclepias, snow peas, Pentas, pineapple sage, Shasta daisies, rose-scented geraniums, lavender hyssop, red and purple salad potatoes.

Leslie’s property backs up to pastureland and so she has to battle with invasive plants and animals from the other side of the fence.

A low fence in her own yard protects her edible garden from wild pigs, but it doesn’t keep out the kalij pheasants and wild turkeys that wreak havoc in her plots now and then.

Leslie removed huge clumps of rhizomatous kahili ginger, that most pernicious weed of Volcano, before she built her greenhouse, but it still comes back in certain areas. Kikuyu grass is great for feeding the cows in the pasture, but it creeps in and takes over any bare patch, so Leslie is experimenting with lemongrass and comfrey as natural barriers. Even invasive Himalayan raspberry, the bane of Volcano gardeners, will pop up occasionally through the kikuyu grass that she mows down.

The garden is now 4 years old, and Leslie has discovered a few helpful tips from the successes - and missteps, too - along her gardening path:

Grow what you like to eat. Says Leslie: “I discovered kale grows well, but I don’t eat it. Chard and lettuces, yes; kale, no.”

Grow what you’d like to try. Be bold and discover something new.

Grow what grows in your area. At 4,000 feet elevation, Volcano is cool and wet. Tomatoes are difficult to grow, rhubarb is easy. And it’s one of the few places in the world where you’ll see plums and pears growing next to hapu’u ferns and ‘ohi’a trees.

1 comment:

lali said...

Very impressive, would love to be able to grow all those wonderful things!