Learning how to garden in Paradise

Bumbye, a never-tested windbreak will get built, but for now, the wind wins.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Hui Hou, Maui

Long version of our goodbye to Maui. Read if you need to be bored.

A funny thing happened on the way to a long-envisioned Maui-based retirement. As each set-back, sidetrack, and unanticipated fubar compounded and expanded to an "epic-fail" situation, eventually it made our presumption untenable that we could manage being in Maui. After much research and real estate evaluation, we found a ranch alongside a river in Oregon, just a few miles from the coast, within reasonable reach of family and friends, at a very reasonable price, once all the details worked themselves out. We packed up our stuff and set it adrift along with our cars. Some stuff made it here, some is evidently taking a tour of other ports of call, but we are getting the new place functioning, much like starting up an antique touring car that has been sitting in a rundown old barn for several decades.

I didn't have much time to explore the wildly overgrown and generally neglected areas of our 10 acre ranch yet. Winter has been rolling right at us, so cleaning and painting the exterior, repairing and replacing so many systems and components, and preparing for the cold and wet times took priority. Are we ready? Hmmm, need some boots, the old slippahs won't cut it.

We will miss the island's old beauty. Hopefully, the economy of the islands will recover, along with a return to more rainfall to end the drought. I didn't build my multi-paneled PVC windbreak, sorry to say, and I never quite succeeded to grow the great variety of stuff like Jane, Julie, and many others, but I did manage to load my neighbors with papayas all year, and even managed to bring my coffee bean seedling up to a nice crop of beans, which turned red in the  last few days we were there. I wish I could have harvested and roasted some! I wish everyone a fond farewell, with many mahalos to those folks we learned so much from, and those we counted as our friends.

I will start up another blog at makindirt.blogspot.com if anyone wants to see our new old ranch. I already found information about growing citrus and avocados in this area, and even bananas could be grown, with a greenhouse. At least I will get a garden tractor next year!

A Hui Hou, Maui

We moved to Oregon. I managed to unwittingly delete the long-winded version of this post, just as I tried to add a picture. No good deed... I will miss the good friends and unique features of Maui. I left just as my started-from-seed Kona coffee bush finally put out a nice crop of red fruits, but I didn't get to harvest a bean. The windbreak I had just begun to put together is not to be, nor will the lightweight planters and garden "art" be finished (gulch-fill now). I will resist adding a picture here - it was just another rainbow, anyway, and Mauians get them almost every day.

I've opened a new blog at makindirt(dot)blogspot(dot)com for those who might want to see how we adjust to 4 seasons at a long-left-alone ranch along a pretty little river. The rainy season just started.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tomatoes love roses, I think

I hope everyone got through the recent rains without damage. I had the best of intentions to get out and pull weeds, especially on my little path of steppers [sigh], but the rains got the upper hand. As we all know, Maui's weather can pop clear, sunny and bright right in the midst of a downpour, so a few pictures were taken at my entry area.

If I ever can figure how to put pictures in the right spot as I write this post, let alone cut them down to a decent size - [ sigh x 3]. I apologize if this comes out all mixed up, but obviously I need to work at this more often than every several months.

The rampant vines - just 2 - of a volunteer yellow pear tomato - have swarmed all over our weary old roses, managing to avoid mildew (but not an occasional determined slug!), with sets of 4 to 6 tasty fruit that can be allowed to ripen together.

Picking them is usually fun, because one only needs to "tickle" them to get them to jump into the outstretched hand. However, I've managed to draw blood more than once while reaching into the thicket.

Hopefully, I can put up a couple of pictures of the "real garden" once I can remove my easiest crop, the weeds. Tune in later, after the next storm series has passed us. Abbita-abbita-abbita - t-t-that's all, folks!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Home at last, after all

Aloha to all/anyone reading this blog. It has been a very long and boring slog to get out of Orange County and move home to Maui. The disasters and delays are over, but the household effects are somewhere not around here. Shoulda used a PODS container ONLY!
I changed the background picture for this blog, to show everyone the teeny 4X4 foot plots, all 9 of them, all overgrown with weeds, impossible-to-remove Okinawan yam runners, long-spent stalks of broccoli, partially disassembled supports, and generally not much left.
Rooting about in those squares reveals some remaining peanut plants, some resprouted Yukon Gold potatoes (some were even on the top of the soil, all greened out), some scattered Candy onions, some clumps of garlic that got hidden and then sprouted from the bulbs, a bedraggled stump of an artichoke, and one healthy sage bush, which had been cut to stubs at my last visit about 8 months ago. I have much to do! I have found a few amazingly vigorous yellow pear tomato plants in the front yard, from a volunteer that popped up in the rose bed, then was running rampantly over them - it was cut down by a miscreant, but I think a few seeds managed to sprout in the lawn, so I am giving them some TLC before I move them to a better spot.
I'm surprised to see how quickly soil amendments disappear over a few months, but then, it has been essentially fallow, while the plants from earlier have grown and faded away. I plan to really tear into the squares to weed, amend, and start some plants, since I won't have any seed-starting stuff that I had packed and shipped over yet. That is OK, I have some little lettuces and tomatoes from Walmart, and the yellow tomato volunteers to give me a jump start. I'll have a lot more to do over the next few months, when I can start composting, testing the soil, da kine.
The winds will get another chance to challenge my support designs (they always lose, but not as fast as before). The grassy areas need just as much help, or more, it seems, but again, what has been lacking is a bit of feeding, some topdressing, and some hands-and-knees weeding, and some regular watering and mowing. At last I am here to do all that!
I will try to have some more pictures next posting, too, since I got my little netbook working now, and I can maybe show some progress on the back 144 (square feet, that is).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nothing to see here, folks.

I wandered around the old place to see what I might want to photograph for visual interest, but it wasn't fruitful. Oh, sure, I have lots of grapefruit, oranges, da kine, but I'm thinking of what I am missing in Maui. That's going to change in just a few short weeks as I wrap up my day job and pack up the remaining stuff here in California and finally take a one-way ticket to Kahului airport, tonly 4 years off my original plan. It's all good, I will not likely miss the crazy pace of life in the OC. My wife has recently decided that we need more garden space, so she says I can take up the front lawn area - Yay! I am thinking about everything from bananas to sweet corn to container fruit trees to even a black pepper vine (anyone ever try that?).
I guess I could have snapped pictures of the compost bin, the worm farm, the little shredder, and other things I've collected, all still sealed up and ready for a container to ship to Maui. I've got boxes of gloves, seed starter trays, seeds, tie wraps, tools, and who knows what more. It will fun just organizing it all. There's a few cartons of books to take to the PO, media mail rate. I have taken years of Organic Gardening magazines, old "mainland" garden books, da kine to our little branch library, along with at least several hundred other books I know I won't need in Maui.
I wish I had talked my wife into taking pictures of the great bulbs of garlic I coaxed out of my little Maui garden (she plucked them out easily), and a shot of the rampant yellow pear tomato vine that rambled all over our row of roses at the front entry. No, I didn't plant it there, but I did feed it when I was there in April. Her description of how good the garlic tasted was the same one we all use when we contrast homegrown tomatoes to the store varieties. I hope I can find my planting notes on that garlic - I used plain old cloves from Foodland's bulbs, likely just Gilroy's commercial variety. I'll be looking to Kula Hardware to see what they bring in. She noted that the peanut plants "died", but she was loathe to try to pull one out (hey, that soil is so soft, I bet they'd come right out). More for me to catch up on when I get there!
Please check for my next post in a few weeks, when I hope I'm rolling in the paspalum and piggin' on figs!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring is making a late arrival

Our wet winter is soon to be over. The avocado trees are trying to throw millions of blooms, with a few dozen fruits that make it to, well, fruition.
Nice to have last year's "crop" still hanging on. The job of finding them gets easier when the trees shed the old leaves, with new leaves popping out to shade the new avo's.

Orange blossoms are at hand now, with some already turning into teeny green promises.

I still have fresh OJ whenever I feel a need to remind myself just how good that stuff really is. I'll have to plant more in Maui when I'm moved for good. The 9 trees here are wonderful. I'm going to miss them!

I'm amazed at how fast the broccoli ran to seed. I had the center head, then several side shoots, but with all the rain and two, not just one, trips to Maui, I didn't even look at them until this week. I have no other "cole" crops near, so I think these seed pods are likely to make similar plants if I save them. I have no idea if they were "heirloom" or open-pollinated, or hybrid, but it will be fun to see what sprouts once I get the seeds out. I'm not sure when I should pull the plants up and hang them in the shed to dry. They are still green, but I suspect they should not be allowed to get dry or brown before I hang them up. I'm looking for my seed savers book but it is probably going in one of my media-mail cartons to Maui. I really look forward to getting there this year, so I can build my greenhouse/wind protector (60mph gusts this month!); the tomatoes get really thrashed even with lots of support. One bright note, the garlic plants have held on, and I think they are getting very close to harvest, which I will teach my wife how to do by Skype, I think. She's done a great job keeping the little garden beds going without my being there. I KNOW she can't wait for me to be the full-time gardener!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Broccoli beats the cool weather blues

Oh, fooey, I put in the wrong shot - oh, well, now y'all know I have a huge clump of rosemary. Actually, there are two big clumps, with the droopy trailing stuff competing alongside the stiff spiky kind, which makes for some ono seasoning when I'm grilling. It blooms all the time, and I love to stomp by it to get that great aroma going. Some stuff is just "fall off the log" easy to grow. I have one of these bushes in Maui, too, so I'll be able to grill with it there, too. Yum!
OK, so here's what I meant to put in... The cool days have made it easy to beat the bugs that would have chewed up the broccoli, which is great for me. These past weeks have been too hectic for any conscientious gardening. I'm so grateful for all the neat posts from all those more diligent bloggers, whetting my appetite for much more gardening later this year. I put in my broc's in November , and mulched them very heavily with my homegrown compost. That's it. No feeding, no watering, just hoped for rain (and got it!). The broccoli plants were doused regularly with our wet winter, allowing me to harvest the central heads, then collect the secondaries, and even some tertiary shoots before I totally neglected the patch and the rest ran to seed. Yes, I forgot to take some pictures of those first heads, but they were really big and tight, looking like something off the pages of those snazzy seed catalogs. We'll see if I manage to glean some seeds later, but I've had some terrific broccoli soup and steamed broccoli along with some raw broccoli for snacking. Geez, I feel so virtuous with this totally organic goodness!

In a few weeks, I'm going to go "home" to Maui again, and maybe there's some peanuts, onion, garlic, and da kine in my little patch of heaven - I'm still not free to move permanently to the Upcountry, but "real soon now" I'll be home for good. I can't wait!