Monthly Archives: May 2013

April 2013 Update

April appears to be a great time for gardening in Kona.  The parsley is really happy, the okra huge, pumpkins growing, arugula giant and kale doubles in size overnight.  Beetles continue to munch away at the basil, kale and sunflowers.  Green beans have been unsucessful.  They did great the first time around, but all subsequent attempts have been chowed down.  We had thrips in the hanging baskets, arugula and kale.  3 weeks ago we sprayed the whole area with neem oil under the advisement of aquaponics which has battled thrips for some time.  I sprayed the kale a couple more times and they appear all cleared up now.  The popcorn and zucchini patch is growing well.  We are spraying half with homemade pepper oil/dishsoap mix and the other with neem- as the beetles appear to really enjoy corn.  The neem side is doing a bit better, but not much difference.  It may be that we just don’t spray often enough.  Most of the time it ends up just 1-2 times a week.

Last week we had 2 impressive rains.  Until now I had not seen anything more than .2 inches on the rain gauge.  Last week it was 1.8 inches after one night!!  The plants loved it. Pumpkins are popping up all over the place.  Still awaiting the lilikoi to flower and fruit.  I picked 4 huge but still tender okra fruits.  This is my first time to grow okra.  The plants appear healthy and thriving and the bugs are not overwhelming them.  May have to plant some more.  3 months ago we direct seeded a whole plot of okra and not a single plant sprouted!  The sow bugs munch down any juvenile plants they find.  All the okra I started in pots and transplanted did well.

The chickens are laying wonderously!  We were loaded with eggs for a couple weeks until the word got out.  In the meantime I sold 6 beloved  hens to a friend who needed more egg layers.  We now have 25 layers and collected 25 eggs this morning.  Still get at least one monster egg everyday.  Besides the drama with Maria, the chicken world has been pretty Pollyanna.   31 hens and it’s the rooster who creates drama- what is wrong with this picture?

Some of my experimental wicking buckets had to be reconfigured.  My garden guru friend Barbara realized that the holes I cut into the sides to fill the buckets created a perfect medium for mosquito larvea.  I didn’t want to to believe her- but we poured the water out and sure enough- larvea.  Bummer.  We cut strips of shade cloth and wrapped it around the holes in hopes this would keep mosquitos out, but one week later I checked the water and still plenty of larvea swimming around.  There is not enough water to put guppies in to eat the mosquitos like we have in the gutter garden and all other areas of  standing water.  Today I put the buckets inside another 6 gallon bucket and placed a pvc pipe down past the soil level  to the gravel layer to water via the pvc pipe.  Seems like a good idea, but some of them won’t fill easily- must have some soil blocking the gravel.  The buckets that I originally built using pvc pipe instead of a hole in the side work great- always moist and need very little watering.  They required less time to make, less watering and no mosquito breeding.  So I learned something:)  They say that’s what counts.

I did a couple home soil samples in the garden this week.  We had high K and P and sufficient N.  The gutter plants on the pergola were low in N so today I watered them with fish water.  We have been diluting the fish water from aquaponics and weekly watering the garden.  We dilute it 1:8 or 1:10 and put 5-10 gallons in each bed.   It was noted that some of our plants were looking poor and yellow- but  under closer inspection it was the old nasturtiums mostly.  Took many of them out and started new plants.

Our leadership track students built a beautiful table out of old bunkbed slats.  It creates a very classy space to sit and enjoy the farm:)  They also put up some shade cloth over the new catfish pond.  More on that project later.

Oh- the worms are laying eggs like crazy.  My worm box is absolutely full of eggs.  I never noticed them before but now you can’t miss all those eggs.  And the worms in the wicking bed appear very busy and happy.  May be time to start a new layer in the worm box!

pretty new table

bottle garden growing well

hurry hurry hurry! Get your farm fresh eggs

Russian red and toscano kale

wicking buckets with bottle garden in background

massive sunflower stalk. Can’t wait to see the flower!

What do you do with a problem like Maria?

Maria recieved his name before his crowing days.  He was a young adolescent rooster when a sweet little Norweign girl decided upon his name.  I found some humor in having a rooster named after my mother- not sure if she ever fully appreciated the honor.  I was surprised to learn all the roles of a rooster and we enjoyed watching Maria bloom into a protective caretaker of the hens.  Until the protectiveness meant protecting the hens from me.  He has surprised me a few times coming at me from the back and last week he was determined to fly into my face.  Over and over I kicked him away.  His intensity was starting to scare me- the aderenalin was coursing as I kicked him away over and over again.  The very same day he decided to attack another staff person.  Luckily she had a shovel in her hand and he went rolling down the yard.  I was not convinced that you can teach a chicken- but I must admit that  the next day when he saw me with a shovel I could see the wheels turning in his little bird brain.  Nevertheless, the problem with Maria must be solved.   We have little people visitors everyday and will not have a rooster bullying them.  I have a friend who is more than happy to give Maria free anger management counseling- something about a magic stewpot……  We will be looking for a different breed of rooster, one known for more mellow ruling of the roost.  Goodbye Maria.  I enjoyed singing this song to you and hearing the hills come alive with the sound of music:)