Keike O Ka 'Aina

Transplant right before it rains, weed and harvest during full moon, lay seed when moon is around  new, water at sunrise, use leftover dish water for spray to keep off bugs, use old coffee grounds to gradually change pH, sheet composting means don't kill all that grass and weeds, instead till them under to utilize their nutrient value in the soil, grass makes great walkways and when ready to make new beds rotate between walkways and beds... the simple lessons of gardening I have learned after two years of working with the land. Every farmer/gardener has their own ways. The way I see it, if the world is always changing and we gonna change with it, then the best way to learn is just go for it and adapt and listen and observe, and what works is what works, thus use that process until it no longer works and remember to always think ahead about the generations to come as to conserve the best that I can. Future consideration for the land and water takes a history lesson, so I go to the elders. How was gardening done 100 years ago and was it sustainable? Is the soil still alive from where they planted for decades? Some use chemicals, others do not. From my lessons I refrain from all chemicals, organic or not, and focus on using what is already there, assuming there is sufficient resources like there is in our backyard. In that sense, location is key and we are blessed here on Kauai. This garden is our experimental nature lab and I'm popping in seeds left and right to watch the show evolve; a real-time living movie about the story of creation and destruction. Sure, Rosa picks a few sprouts mistakenly and the chickens scratch a few, so I'm left with 75% of what I plant, but that's better than 50% and so I plant a few extra to compensate for expected losses. There will be bugs, there will be heavy rain and strong wind, there will be dry spells, but that's just the way it is. If I can't accept losses then traditional organic gardening ain't the path for me, so far it is. 

Here's a lovely full moon shot by Jessica.   

A week after first planting I decided to soil tests. Everything was rather stellar except the nitrogen reading, which is something I had anticipated. With a few rotations of sheet composting and the addition of rich compost from the jungle I should be able to inch the nitrogen reading up. The pH is a little alkaline, too, so over time with using our leftover soapy dish water and coffee grounds that should go down.

Here's my garden teacher and student. Every day she's out in the garden helping me transplant, weed and look for bugs.

Sweet corn, one watermelon and a few of Billie beans all in one bed.


Sweet pie pumpkin.

Striped beets.

The Sheldonia lettuce mix. This is more a test plot to compare how Sheldonia's lettuce variety does here in Kapaa. If it works I might get a business license and start selling to the east side.

Okinawan sweet potato, one mammoth sunflower to the far end along with a mutli-colored amaranth.

Some of Billie's heirloom tomato varieties along with some of Kauai's finest cherry tomatoes.

Pickling cucumbers. What is not eaten will be pickled of course!

Sugar daddy peas.

Baby watermelon.

Blueberry, blackberry and strawberry. Rumor has it that some berries don't do well here, but some do. Let's find out what happens! Black raspberries are on the way, too.


Kabocha squash.

More amaranth and mystery pepper in the back.

Okinawan spinach.

Banana tree with Billie's beans.


5' tomato plant.

Coffee tree, kalo and casava, I think.

Daikon radish.

Vanilla and some Hawaiian plant.

Sorgham wheat and the compost.

Last week Rosa found Hawai'i's only native snake, the blind snake.

This posting serves as a diary for me to see the before and after of Rosita's garden first planting.


Kauai Pickles & Planting

Hanai is finished with it's three-month weekend pop-up restaurant at Java Kai, but has plans to move inside Kojimas in Kapaa and start a whole new path. The menu will stay relatively the same, just the kitchen and space to work with is much bigger and permanent, meaning no pop-up stress, only plop-down and enjoy bliss.  My previous post boasts some of the best pics of the dishes that Hanai put out. Not sure what my role in Hanai will be when it reopens in May... I could be on the front line in the kitchen or in the fields picking garnishes and lettuce for them, maybe both. It's been great to actualize farm-to-table cuisine in a Hawaiian atmosphere; so few restaurants do it here, which I find odd. Most go to Costco to buy their ingredients since it's cheaper, but quality no so good and every restaurant that depends on imported food purveyors and warehouses is therefore limited on creative freedom. Just cause it's cheaper to buy food at Costco doesn't mean it's good for the environment or human health, doesn't mean that it's sustainable or feeds into the local economy, really, I think the state government should subsidize chefs that buy locally and organic since that's the best way to become part of the environment and community that surrounds the kitchen and dining area. Support the local farmers, connect with the land and water, either grow it or build it myself or find a neighbor that can and trade... but as for buying from mainland or overseas, especially ingredients, that seems so silly to me. Kauai has all that one needs to survive and be happy.

With Hanai no longer on my to-do list for the next little while I'm on a pickling binge. I haven't found any Kauai pickles in the shops by us, so I called up the Grandma and asked her how to do it. The week after I asked for her recipe a pickling book and tool kit arrived in the mail. I have a few pics of the pickles I've done so far.. my fav. is the fresh and local cinnamon, ginger and kumquat in Kilauea honey. The kumquat season is almost over and right now they are perfect and cheap, so I bought them all at the farmers market last week to preserve their goodness and share them during the down season for citrus. Most of the lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, kumquat and winter mango trees have dropped all their fruits and are in flower for their next batch. Looks like Kauai is going to have a huge summer mango season since they have so many flowers. Pickled mango anyone? 

Rosa, Jess and I went to the 2015 Kauai Seed & Plant Exchange on the equinox/full moon/solar eclipse and traded a dozen of our coffee trees for vanilla, cassava, ginger, sweet potato, breadfruit, jack fruit, avocado, mac nut and coconut plants/trees and a couple packs of carrot and Hopi tobacco seeds. Tobacco grows well on Kauai as there are no known pests to date for that crop here. I spent a week with my sickle and cleared some land for the newbies gathered at the exchange. A blueberry bush arrived in the mail in healthy condition on Friday and a blackberry bush is somewhere out there in a box anxiously awaiting to arrive. Rosa picked out pumpkin (sugar pie), carrot (purple), corn (sweet yellow) and cucumber (pickling) seeds today. I've planted a zillion sugar snap peas (#9 and sugar daddy) since those are her favorite and also planted all the Billie's green beans that farmer Phil held onto from last year. Phil has given me some ox heart carrot, red lettuce and beet seeds and I take small cuttings from his big herb bushes, the benefits of working on a farm with a cool dude. Not entirely sure what I am doing, but there's only one way find out. Plant them and see what happens. If I leave this Earth I want to leave behind me a garden big enough to feed my family and the generations to come, and also enough trees to counter my carbon footprint from all the flying I've done in the past to Antarctica and elsewhere around the globe. Imagine if for every gallon of gas you used you had to plant one tree? The last pics of the post are of garden in progress. Three weeks ago it was all 6-foot high guinea grass and now there's peas and beans and mators, oh my!