Two months since the first seeds were planted and already 50 cucumbers, one pumpkin, candy cane striped beets, a few fat and juicy cherry tomatoes, lettuce, sweet potato greens, radishes and a couple sweet peas have been eaten. I've also witnessed the flip side of growing on Kauai; hungry small insects and changing weather. There's the pumpkin borer, three types of fruits fries and various other munchers that, for instance, took out all my pumpkin (except one) in just one night. El Nino in our Pacific backyard is still hanging around and caused a dry, warm winter, Drought conditions on the west and south side, some GMO companies are pulling out :) There's talk of a busy hurricane season, and maybe a mild summer with cool nights and rain. With so many micro-climates and -ecosystems on this island I can never be sure where is right to grow what unless I give it a try. The cucumber plants went from amazing to every fruit being filled with worms and the leaves drying out in just days with strong wind and endless wonderful sunshine. Like I said before, can't be a farmer if I can't except loss. Can't lose them all, though. Keep on planting.
Those 50 cucumbers we harvested came from a $2 seed packet and the reward was delicious. We ate them all so fast that I didn't have any left to pickle. Billie's green beans have produced plenty and I've been able to pickle beans, as well as some green tomatoes, beets, ginger, turmeric and radish from our garden. There's also a surplus of FREE mangoes and papaya and lychee. Smoothies anyone? Papaya coconut pie? Maybe I should can them... or sun dry...
One side of the brain operates the kitchen and the other the garden.
I thankfully pulled out the dead wormy pumpkins a few days ago and planted Thai basil, more sugar snap peas and sunflowers in their spot. Who doesn't like sunflowers? The reality of gardening on Kauai is that when I go to the market and see all the produce for sale... there's no watermelon, orange jack-o-lantern pumpkin, cantaloupe, etc., because the bugs like young, soft melons. The locals know what's up and down. Grow what grows naturally, or at least with ease. A soft melon skin is easy to be punctured by the fruit flies and not a good thing if growing for human consumption. The time I spent tying cheesecloth around golf-ball sized pumpkins and spraying pumpkin leaves with baking soda and oil to rid of white mold, could have been spent tending to something that has more probable vitality. Some farmers tell me to build fruit fly traps to keep the flies away. If I build a trap that lures flies in using sweet bait then wouldn't that bring more flies into the area? Why am I trying to feed bugs that feed off plants that don't grow well here? Duh.
Agriculture is one of humanities manipulation of nature to produce some sort of good that will benefit society. The intensity by which a farmer manipulates nature is up to his or her self. I like to leave a soft footprint and muddle lightly. If I were to leave this place today, within six months the garden would be unrecognizable with invasive guinea grass, as it was three months ago. Maybe I'm being an environmental steward to the ecosystem by controlling 'weeds' and maintaining sustainable productive soil. Half the time I am just feeding the chickens and bugs.When the bugs take over I make a bow and say it's all yours nature, thanks for what you gave and may we dance again, until then, may all this work be a donation to the insect kingdom. Bugs need to eat, too.
UH # 10 sweet corn. The university of Hawaii has seeds for sale that are well tested for success, so I lean to buy them kind.
Rosa cutting down a weed. A weed is a plant in the wrong place.
Here she is getting some pots ready.
The cucumbers and watermelon. Right now, I think there's one watermelon still hanging on, well wrapped in cheesecloth. As long as the worm doesn't get into the vine everything will be okay.
Cherry tomatoes grow well, but anything larger than a golf ball is tricky unless in a greenhouse or using pesticides, and I that ain't my style. Some folks toss netting or bags over their crops to keep the bugs out. Aesthetically, I think the way a garden looks is the way the fruits come out... and I like 'em wild and free!
Billie's green beans. Fed some kids at the daycare next store and will be on the menu for our family dinner.
Here are the burpless muncher cucumbers before the bugs came. Apparently, certain cucumbers make people burp, so they have varieties they are 'burpless' and easier on the digestive system.
Sweet potato greens. So delicious. These are the purple sweet potato.
Sorghum. Not sure what to do with it without a mill.
Maui onions. Take 180 days.
Little island gems.
The Kauai approved Kabocha squash.
A bee on the pumpkin flower.
See the little dark spot on the fruit? That's been stung and ain't going to grow much longer.
But, with a little hope...
I got one.
The morning squash dance.
The doomed watermelon.
Cassava, kalo and coffee.
Mint and nasturtium.
Sugar snap peas.
Mammoth sunflower. Sunflowers bring the birds in, which eat the insects. Coffee trees bring the bees in, that help pollinate.
Rosemary has rooted.
Aloe vera and sugarloaf pineapple in the background.
Pickled green tomatoes and red onion.
Add it to our collection of pickles for the day our fields wash away.
Got a bucket of tators, too.
Down on Sheldonia farm the flowers are in full bloom. Mangoes are dropping, oranges and limes have a couple more months and the avocados are becoming monsters. My little office space on the farm that's shared with three kids...
and a gecko.
When transplanting 2,000 heads of lettuce or weeding 100s of meters of bed by hand, I sometimes go off into dream world to help pass the time while the hands our busy. I contemplate whether or not my hormones and pheromones mix with those of the plants and if so, what's the impact? Why these bugs, right now, right here? Where did they come from? Our insects super intelligent beings from outer space? Why does my skin change colors? Is the sun getting stronger, or maybe our atmosphere weaker? Sometimes a bee gets me in the foot and brings me back into the body, but shortly after I go back to daydreaming... hey, what about candied flowers? After work on Thursday I picked a few flowers and eggs from the chicken coup.
To our lab!
Twas like eating the sweetest rainbow.