Diminishing pressure, thank you departed eclipse.

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The Greenhouse Challenges

As it turns out, it’s quite challenging even to grow in the greenhouse here.

Zucchini does not do well in this area.  It’s simply too wet.  The plants always start out looking great, but within a few weeks they are covered with white powdery mildew.  Seriously covered.  I tried spraying them with hydrogen peroxide, but I truly think it’s hopeless in this environment.  My adviser also found it impossible to grow zucchini here.

The cucumbers were doing marvelous well.  Although they too acquired a rust colored fungus, they were still managing well.  Then there was the invasion of white flies!  One of the problems is that I don’t get onto these problems right away.  I look, I see, but I vasccilate and hesitate.  “What’s that?” I wonder.  Well, that doesn’t take me very far into solving the problem.

After awhile, I began spraying them with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap, diluted of course.  This seemed to help considerable, although it hasn’t solved the problem in full.  I may need to remove all the plants from the greenhouse for two weeks, which means they won’t survive.  This I’ve read will eradicate the white fly problem.  But I don’t yet have the heart to remove or destroy the plants that are still growing cucumbers, even though a few of them are seriously devastated.

All this is a learning process for me.  As I learn, I will get much quicker at catching these problems far earlier and more adept with the methods that will be effective for solving the problems.  My main focus is on the cucumbers.  Since the previous owners were able to grow cucumbers (hydroponically, in their case) it seems I should be able to find a way to do so too.  Although they did says that it’s not easy and sometimes you lose entire crops.

Despite these challenges, I am heartened by the fact that my greens in the beds are growing almost effortlessly.  The combination of compost and Organic Crumbles (fertilizer) seems to serve them well.

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Cucumbers, Zucchini, and Green News

I met with a gardening specialist on Jan 19th. So much was learned in just a few hours. Talking with an adviser provides so much more than reading from a book. I’m slowly putting her advice into place. Here’s the general update. In the Greenhouse

2 Katrina (OG) cucumber plants – 49 days.

Growing, flowering, and began producing fruit starting about a week ago. They were planted in the first week of January. They are a mid-size cucumber and are best harvested at 5.5 to 6.5″ long.

PLANTED TODAY: Two new seeds in two 2″ peat pots.

2 Tyria (OG) Long Dutch type cucumber plants – 56 days

These seeds were planted about a week to 10 days after the Tyria seeds. They are just beginning to have very tiny cukes but no obvious flowers yet. I bent and partially broke the main stem on one today when I moved it. We’ll see if it recovers.

One of these I replanted from a gallon size pot about a week ago. The other I only replanted today. This color of this latter one is fading a bit so we’ll see if it perks up now that it’s been transplanted. There was fertilizer mixed in with the soil as well as dolomite.

They have a few rust colored spots (a fungus). I am going to try a dilution of food grade hydrogen peroxide on them tomorrow.

Sultan Zucchini

3 plants are producing. I’ve harvested about 5 zucchini from the largest plant in the 5 gallon pot. The one in the larger plot has 2 zucchini, one ready to harvest now. It took longer to produce. It may get a little less sun.

The 4th plant was transplanted from the peat pot when it was already fading a bit, after all the others, and it’s gotten the least sun. It’s closest to the gardening table. I moved it into the bin with the sunflower seeds today to see if some extra light would help it out. The first 2 plants all have some white powdery mildew. Will try the hydrogen peroxide tomorrow.

Germinating brassica seeds

I germinated a variety of brassica sees using the Black Gold Mix. They almost all sprouted. Mizuma, Swiss Chard, Collards, Bok Choy. These plants look healthier than the seeds I sow directly into the ground. I began to transplant some in the ground today – the Swiss Chard and Mizuma – but I should have waited longer. The roots hadn’t filled up the small pots yet. We’ll see if they make it. I prepared the soil with compost, some fertilizer, and some dolomite.

Soil Test

I took one sample of soil from the brassica bed before I prepared it. I’ll try to take the rest of the samples tomorrow and send off the total sample for testing to soon. It’s definitely touch and go, but I’m learning and improving. I’m not dismayed by the fungus on the greenhouse plants. This is par for the course. I’m learning how to work with it.

Tangelos and Organges

Just finished.  There’s only a few green fruit on the trees.  It was a terrific season and we were able to share fruit with our neighbors.

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The Garden Is Flourishing

The garden is flourishing at the moment.  In the beds, I have healthy rows growing of ~

  • arugula
  • mustard greens
  • bok choy
  • cilantro

We’ve already been using the cilantro for weeks.  The mustard greens and bok choy are almost ready to eat as well.  No pests at the moment.

Yesterday, I planted about 15 tiny new cilantro plants from seeds I started in the greenhouse.  The sky has graced us with a good rain, which is always an excellent way for the  new plants to get a boost.

I need to get the greenhouse going.

I’ve been reading information on the website of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, at the University of Hawai’i.  First, I spoke to a master gardener who was very discouraging.  He was sweet, but he had a pickle about all the pests that we have to contend with in Hawai’i and how difficult it is to grow anything here.  He had very little insight or information to share with me.

The website on the other hand does have a fair amount of practical information.  I was able to find out details about how to cultivate a small number of specific vegetables and which varieties grow well in Hawai’i.  The latter information is particularly helpful.

I also spoke with a farmer at Garuda, the nearby organic vegetable farm and the produce manager at Island Naturals in Pahoa.  They were both very kind and helpful.

Cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes (especially Heirloom) are the logical candidates for the greenhouse.  I already lost one zucchini plant to white powdery mildew.  Tomatoes sound complicated.  I’m not sure cucumbers will germinate; some say they require a constant temperature of 70 degrees.

So I am aiming for cucumbers (Mideast/Beit Alpha Katrina F1) and/or zucchini.  I planted 2 cucumber seeds yesterday and will try a few zucchini seeds in the next few days just to see if they will germinate.  The evenings may be too cool. We’ll see.

This weekend, I also planted some other items in the greenhouse ~ lettuce (Saturday), Bloomsdale spinach (Sunday), and, tatsoi (Monday).  I’m experimenting simply to see what will grow in there.  Some green is already shooting up in one of the lettuce pots.  Voila!  Unless it’s a weed.  We’ll see.

The weather has been around 80 degrees during the daytime.  The greenhouse feels quite warm when I go out there around 10 or 11 am.  Its’ chilly in the evenings.  Today, it’s raining quite strongly.  The first strong rain we’ve had in awhile.

It might sound crazy to be planting in the “dead of winter” but there’s even a strawberry plant with flowers that’s bearing fruit.  OK, just one fruit but nice and juicy and red.  A slug or bird got to it first.  That’s the strawberry saga – some creature always gets them before us!  I’m going to check into covering them with net.

The physical work in the garden is very soothing to my mind.  It’s very healthful for my being.  The mind seems to naturally calm down in the garden.  It’s far easier to keep one’s mind tuned into a spiritual focus.  No wonder gardens are often a part of spiritual communities.  The physical work is a little challenging for my body.  I try to work for brief periods and avoid doing too much at one time.

The garden is flourishing for a moment.  Who knows which way it will turn next!

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How does my garden grow?

I aspire to have a healthy, colorful, vibrant organic garden.  But, I’m finding that gardening is not so easy!

There are many fruits that grow wild in Hawai’i like bananas, avocados, small mangos, and papayas.  We can literally walk around our neighborhood and pick some fruit depending on when they are in season. Our citrus trees are prolific and are producing a second season.

There are many native vegetables that do well too, but they are not the ones on my particular diet.  Standard vegetables like zucchini and carrots do not grow well here.

Raised Beds

So far I’ve had luck with:

  • arugula
  • Osaka purple mustard greens
  • cilantro, when started in the greenhouse
  • pineapples, already in place when we arrived
  • Bau Sin mustard greens, they’re growing but not sure if they are going to do well.
  • Purple potatoes, I planted some stems from the last batch which was already in place when we arrived.

I’m failing with:

  • Baby bok choy flourishes for awhile but is attacked by a pest, which I suspect is aphids.  Same with Tatsoi.
  • The patch of strawberry plants grows but never produces much in the way of strawberries.  The strawberries that do appear are quickly snatched by birds or other beings.
  • There’s a wild kaboocha squash plant that has produced two pumpkins and a new vine is spontaneously growing across the lawn near the raised beds.

Green House

  • The zucchini plant produced some fruit, but it was so hot this summer the leaves burned and it stopped producing.  Then it contracted a leaf mold.
  • Sunflower greens seem to work.

Current planting

Today I planted:

  • A cucumber seed in a container in the greenhouse.
  • A small row of cilantro seeds in the beds, using a seed from a Hawai’in company.

I love being outside, being in nature, and working in the dirt.  So far my efforts have been trial and error.  I’ve picked up bits and pieces of gardening advice from people I’ve met at the hot pond.  However, it’s gradually becoming clear that I need more education to master the intricacies of gardening in Hawai’i!

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The World We Have

These days, I’m keeping my purchases to a minimum for two reasons.

  • First, mindless consumption is destroying our planet.
  • Secondly, for the sake of greater simplicity in my own life.

While I’m not a full-out minimalist, I tend in that direction.

Nevertheless, I recently bought a Kindle to skirt around the musty, moldy smell and chemical off-gassing from books.  Yes, the paper in books can contain chlorine or formaldehyde. The printer’s ink often contains other nasty chemicals.  Unhealthful chemicals pervade almost all our clothes and material objects.  It’s just a fact of 21st century life.  A fact I hope will change soon so we have a healthy environment for our children.

The first book I download is The World We Have, A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Weisman.

This is a powerful treatise, cutting right to the chase yet also so beautifully written.  Despite the truthful, dark scenarios, I couldn’t help but feel a bubbling joy reading this book.  An infusion of joy, peace, and hope seemed to be transmitted from the very heart of these words.

Thich Nhat Hanh tells us precisely what we need to do to overcome the environmental crisis.  That in itself is enough to spark joy.  We don’t need to be confused or discouraged.  We can just start following the principles outlined in this book – including 60 ways to start living more green.

He has coined the term “mindful consumption” but this book goes far beyond being an informed shopper.  It covers all the universal principles of reality like impermanence and interdependence.  In so doing, Thich Nhat Hanh shows how we got into this mess in the first place – by ignoring our interdependence with not just other humans, but plants, animals, rocks, and all phenomena.  The book offers an array of tools for practicing mindfulness both on and off the cushion and recognizing and respecting our interrelatedness.

I recommend this book as a must read for anyone who cares about peace and ecology.  The principles are universal and apply to everyone.  Here are some of the early quotations, inviting us to wake up:

“The bells of mindfulness are calling out to us, trying to wake up up, reminding us to look deeply at our impact on the planet.”

“The bells of mindfulness are sounding. All over the Earth, we are experiencing floods, droughts, and massive wildfires. Sea ice is melting in the Arctic and hurricanes and heat waves are killing thousands. The forests are fast disappearing, the deserts are growing, species are becoming extinct every day, and yet we continue to consume, ignoring the ringing bells.”

“All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren.”

Just a few random thoughts from Sandra Pawula about the world.

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