Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little Fire Ant ups the Ante

Little Fire Ant, an invasive species with a painful sting, is spreading quickly along the coast of East Hawai'i, creating havoc for gardeners, farmers, and pretty much anyone else who has the misfortune of discovering colonies. Little Fire Ants establish colonies usually in potted plants, trees and lawns, but will also enter all kinds of buildings - including homes, schools and businesses. Read about it in my article in the Oct. 28 issue of the Big Island Weekly -- click here.

USDA photo

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hawai'i School Gardens: Pa'auilo School

At the Hamakua Alive! festival held at Pa'auilo School this weekend, I saw many excellent ideas demonstrating sustainability in action, but most impressive was the school's garden itself. Above is one of the school's milk goats. (Would you believe it was love at first sight? Sigh.)

Here are the greenhouses and gardens...'s Donna Mitts, garden educator,
and the school's ever-expanding vermicomposting facilities ...

I couldn't help but admire the efforts of Donna Mitts. She's gearing up to do mid-scale vermicomposting using cafeteria waste, making this the first school on the island to take this bold step toward sustainability.

Hawai'i Island School Garden Network director Nancy Redfeather counts Pa'auilo among the school garden jewels dotting the island that are part of the Hawai'i Island School Garden Network.

"Donna's 10 year old program is certainly an example of the integration of various types of agricultural work into a small model that can be worked by the children," says Redfeather. "When a public/private partnership is formed, as I hope to see someday, communities around the island will be able to lend their voices to the decision."

To get the full story about this amazing outdoor learning lab -- "Wormville" and all -- read this insightful blog by Hawai'i Island investigative journalist Alan McNarie - click here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Container Gardening, Hawai'i Style

I'm not like most people in Hawai'i. Most residents live near the coast. I live at 3,500 feet elevation on the island of Hawai'i, atop an active volcano, Kilauea. While the rest of the lowlanders are sweltering around the state, I'm experimenting with mainland-style, cool-weather spring/fall herbs and veggies. Here the volcanic plume of sulphur emissions from Halema'uma'u crater, the home of Hawaiian goddess Pele, creates constant acid rain, which presents a challenge for gardeners in the Volcano area. In winter the rain is heavy, which is another problem for residents trying to grow edible gardens. To protect their bounty from acid rain and vog damage, many here resort to greenhouses and container gardening.

Though I haven't yet constructed a greenhouse, at the moment I'm keeping quite a few plants on a protected area on my lanai.

Here's what’s growing on my lanai:

Red shiso (Perilla)
Mexican tarragon
Sweet marjoram
Upright rosemary
Greek oregano
'Windowbox Mini Basil' (Renee’s)
Thai basil
'Patio' tomato
Aloe vera
Scallions, 'Delicious Duo' (Renee’s)

Just seeded:
Horenso (spinach )
Komatsuna (Brassica rapa, Seeds of Change)
Collards ('Green Glaze', Southen Exposure seed)
Oregon Snow Pea (Seeds Of Change)

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

DIY Watering Can

Happy Birthday, Dear Hawai'i Gardening Blog!

It's the second anniversary of this here blog thing. To celebrate, let's make ourselves a very thoughtful, very inexpensive gardening gift.

Watch it in action. You'll want one.


Stuff You'll Need

Plastic laundry detergent bottle

Drill with bit that makes tiny holes

Utility knife

Rinse out bottle thoroughly. Drill plenty of holes in the cap. To allow air to flow into the bottle and keep the water free flowing, cut a hole near the cap in the handle – not to close to the cap, otherwise the water spills out there, too.

I make these and donate them to community and school garden projects. Makes a nice cheapo gift for any gardener who doesn't like to drag out the power tools themselves. Sure, laundry detergent bottles are #2 recyclable. But if you have to have those bottles anyway, reuse is better than recycle.