GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

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Old Friends


Lemongrass needs cut back again…time for tea!

As I shake off months/years of anti-gardening funk and start to grow some things again, it’s a bit like meeting up with old friends. Time stands still for some friends doesn’t it?  No matter how much time passes, you pick up exactly as you left off. But in this case, my plant friends that have far more slug problems than I recall them having in the past! So every night for a week now I’ve gone out after dark (sometimes with preschooler and eldest in tow) with flashlights to remove dozens, perhaps hundreds of slugs from our yard. They are then *ahem* re-homed to the forest, or so I tell the sensitive one. One of those cases when you teach kindness and respect for all life and then it backfires when you try and dispose of a bag of disgusting slugs. 🙂

A quick list of food stuff I have growing again:

  1. Lavender
  2. Rosemary
  3. Eggplant
  4. Lilikoi (passion fruit)
  5. Papaya
  6. Lemongrass
  7. Chaya (tree spinach)
  8. Mamaki (for tea)
  9. Asparagus
  10. Bananas
  11. Ulu (breadfruit tree, not making fruit yet)
  12. Avocado (not too big yet)
  13. Kale
  14. Tomato
  15. Spinach
  16. Swiss Chard
  17. Green onions
  18. Chives
  19. Kalo (taro)

Seriously, not bad considering I haven’t cared at all about food growing in a long time!! Kids and I started some seeds last week and they have sprouted, so soon I want to add to the above list:

  1. Cucumber
  2. Pumpkins
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Broccoli

grr. slug damage on the eggplant. But since our nightly slug hunts the population is going down!


So pleased these Seeds of Change organic pumpkins sprouted! These seeds were over 3 years old.


Also Seeds of Change organic sweet corn! Old seeds still sprouted.


Seeds of Change organic cucumber sprouted!


Our two banana “areas” since they are not really singular trees anymore! We’ve harvested 4x from the one on the right and 2x from the left.


Our still young ‘ulu tree (breadfruit) from a free tree giveaway years ago. It’s doing really well 🙂


Wetland kalo (taro) from Windward side grows in our super wet corner


Mamaki plant for tea


Chaya, or tree spinach. Tasty if boiled, too tough and toxic to eat raw.


Kale, that grows like a weed.

Thanks for stopping by friends! I know it’s been awhile. Super easy seed starting tip, get your kid’s elementary school class to save all their milk cartons for you! No need to purchase those silly expensive seed starter kits. 🙂


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Food Stuffs All Over the Yard

I’m a neglectful blogger and perhaps an even more neglectful gardener. This is my biggest selling point for planting permaculture style plants: no fuss required. I go out every few weeks and harvest food. That’s my gardening method. Because I’ve planted (or allowed to grow on their own) things like papaya, chard, chaya, banana, citrus, mamaki, kale, popolo berry, mint, oregano, mountain apple, asparagus and a few other things that can withstand some munching from bugs and still make food. Even more “annual” style plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and beans, when mixed in with this bunch of other wildness needs very little care. Plant a seed or plant. Wait. Harvest food. That’s it.

I just wanted to share some photos of the food in the yard this morning. Not everything is “food” yet; the mountain apple tree has been eaten pretty badly, but there’s new growth, so it will bloom again. And our orange tree has tiny little green fruits for the first time. It’s like welcoming new friends 😀

Our first bananas! Originally from a keiki I got from a friend in our permaculture course

Our first bananas! Originally from a keiki I got from a friend in our permaculture course

Some of our many papayas!

Some of our many papayas!

Chaya on overload. Gonna have to eat some soon!

Chaya on overload. Gonna have to eat some soon!

One of our basils- got used in Thai curry last week

One of our basils- got used in Thai curry last week

The biggest daikon ever. :-)

The biggest daikon ever. 🙂

Baby strawberries! I have let these get a bit overgrown with "weeds" and now they are happy because slugs aren't eating them anymore

Baby strawberries! I have let these get a bit overgrown with “weeds” and now they are happy because slugs aren’t eating them anymore

From one tiny huli, this kalo is big now

From one tiny huli, this kalo is big now

Hiding among the "weeds"

Hiding among the “weeds”

Mamaki tea anyone?

Mamaki tea anyone?

Nasturtiums that keep blooming

Nasturtiums that keep blooming

TONS of mint

TONS of mint

Aloe for all the kids injuries

Aloe for all the kids injuries

New growth on the mountain apple tree after a season of getting eaten by something

New growth on the mountain apple tree after a season of getting eaten by something

New friends! Our citrus tree is finally fruiting

New friends! Our citrus tree is finally fruiting

Papaya! Eating this daily now, frozen in smoothies

Papaya! Eating this daily now, frozen in smoothies

Chard still producing after 2 years

Chard still producing after 2 years

Lemongrass needs cut back again...time for tea!

Lemongrass needs cut back again…time for tea!



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Sunday Comfort Food

Most meals at this house are fridge to table in 30 minutes or less.  It is out of sheer desperation for lack of prep time that I have read about, implemented and even come up with my own time hacks. (Things like pre-making big pots of brown rice and freezing in portions; slow cooker everything and 20 minute soup 3 nights a week!)

Sometimes, when I have the time and an extra set of hands to keep the kiddos from running in the street, I like to make stuff that requires more than “chop, cook, serve.”

I give you: Colcannon Topped with Kidney Bean “Meat”balls and Mustard-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Comfort Food Made Vegan!

Comfort Food Made Vegan!

This whole meal was about an hour of prep/cook.  WAY more time than I usually spend in the kitchen, but as I get the luxury of blogging this my boys are busy loading the dishwasher. ❤ them!

So here’s the details:

Kidney Bean Meatballs

Make the meatballs first, they take the longest. (Make this your own by adding hot sauce, steak sauce or liquid smoke if you want. All would be great!)

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 onion

2 cloves garlic

Handful of baby carrots

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

3/4 instant oats (or regular oatmeals pulsed a few times in the food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In your food processor put onion, carrot and garlic. Pulse a few times until well chopped and mixed. Add rice, pulse a few more times. Add beans and pulse until most are smashed. This should be chunky-ish though, you don’t want a paste. Scoop it out into a bowl and add ketchup, sauces and oats. Mix really well and using hands to form into balls, place on cookie sheet. (I made about 20)

Bake 20-30 minutes or until outside gets firm and golden. Let cool for a bit (they firm up as they cool).

While those are baking, prepare-


Colcannon= Irish side dish consisting of mashed potatoes with cabbage (or in this case, kale that was taking over the garden) Make this dish as big or small as you need!

Potatoes , quartered

Kale or cabbage, de-stemmed and chopped

Dijon mustard

Green onions, sliced

Boil the potatoes till soft. Turn off heat and throw in the greens. (Let them steam for 10 minutes while you prep the Brussels Sprouts.)

After greens have softened, drain the whole pot and mash well with non dairy milk, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Add in green onions and still well.

Agave and Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts

2 cups Brussels Sprouts

2 tbsp agave

2 tbsp yellow mustard

1/2 tbsp olive oil


Slivered almonds (garnish)

Whisk agave, mustard and oil together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Place them in a skillet with enough water to move them around a bit and steam them until bright green and tender. As water is getting low and evaporating, pour in mustard mixture stirring until nicely glazed, about 2-3 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

If you timed it all right, everything should be ready when the almonds go on! The meatballs had cooled enough to be firm and the husband and son had theirs with gravy (but it wasn’t vegan so I skipped that) but if I make this again, I’m doing it up with gravy too. Total Iowa comfort food, veganized (and gluten free!)

Enjoy friends, Aloha.

(Credits: Recipes adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas and Happy Herbivore Abroad by Lindsay Nixon)

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An Epic Pot of Lemongrass Tea


We have nice neighbors. So when my lemongrass plantzilla started shading half their yard, it was time to cut it back. Lemongrass is a great permaculture plant- perennial, grows easily, lots of uses but it does get HUGE in Hawaii. There’s no real science to where to cut it on the stalk, I probably could have cut it closer to the ground but my scissors weren’t that sharp so I did the best I could.

It was about a 5 gallon bucket full, if I had a clean bucket. But they are all in use so had to use this basket. (Seriously, where do all the buckets go??)

I chopped it up, using a knife and sometimes scissors and filled my 40 cup stockpot. To keep the boy busy, I had him carry water in cups from inside to fill the pot. Busy hands keep him out of trouble. 😀



Plopped it up on the stove and let it come to a boil while dinner cooked and the scent of lemongrass took over our house. It’s such a lovely smell!


The straining part was a bit more complicated than the cute ladies on the YouTube videos I watched…maybe because in organic gardening you have bugs? Yeah. Lots of bugs that met their demise in the boiling water now needed to be strained out of my nice tea. I tried a regular tea strainer but some holes were still too big so I found a thin cloth that worked really well.


This made a LOT of tea. 😀 I also added some organic Hawaiian honey which really makes it delicious. I gave some to a neighbor and will share some with a friend tomorrow. The rest I full intend to drink because I’ve been battling a sore throat and mild head cold for about week and lemongrass tea has antibacterial properties among many other things.


Medicinal Properties 

Lemongrass has been reported to have innumerable therapeutic and other health benefits. Widely used to alleviate certain respiratory conditions including laryngitis and sore throats, lemongrass has earned a reputation for its anti-pyretic property which reduces high fevers. Called fevergrass in some cultures the vapor is inhaled, leading to increased perspiration and eventually the complete removal of fever.

Lemongrass has powerful pain relieving properties. It helps to alleviate muscle spasms by relaxing the muscles thereby leading to the reduction of pain-related symptoms. It is thus useful for all types of pain including abdominal pain, headaches, joint pains, muscle pains, digestive tract spasms, muscle cramps, stomachache and others. This remedy has also been linked to increasing the body’s ability to repair damaged connective tissue such as cartilage, ligaments and tendons and is thus recommended for these types of injuries. Another related benefit is for improvements in blood circulation.

As an antifungal and antibacterial, lemongrass inhibits bacteria and yeast growth. For this it is useful for gastrointestinal infections and may also be applied externally to wounds as it fights germs. As an antioxidant lemongrass, contributes to liver and pancreatic health by helping the body to more quickly remove toxins. It has also being linked to lowered or normalized cholesterol levels. It also treat digestive issues including gastro-enteritis and may be helpful in relieving constipation.

Some sources suggest that lemongrass has antidepressant properties and is thus beneficial for nervous and stress-related conditions. It is said to be helpful in alleviating anxiety and depressive symptoms. It helps to strengthen the nervous system and may thus be useful for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

The presence of Vitamin A in lemongrass makes it helpful for skin issues such as acne pimples. It helps to brighten the skin and eyes and clear up oily skin thus improving acne. Its antibacterial property is also valuable for skin infections. Lemongrass may improve poor body odor by controlling excessive sweating.

One research conducted at the Ben Gurion University in Israel has found possible benefits of the citral found in lemongrass on cancer. It reveals that this compound may contribute to the death of cancer cells with no noted negative effect on normal cells.



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Lentils with Hawaiian Sweet Potato and Chard

Rainbow Swiss Chard, cut from the garden 15 minutes before cooking :-)

Rainbow Swiss Chard, cut from the garden 15 minutes before cooking 🙂


Easy quick, gluten free, one pot dinner! And a great way to use the chard that was taking over in the garden 🙂

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup dried lentils (I used red)

2-4 sweet potatoes, depending on size cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 tsp salt


8 cups chopped stemmed Swiss Chard

Heat the oil over medium heat, add onion, cook until soft. Add garlic and thyme, cook another 30 seconds. Stir in broth and wine, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce to simmer and cook partially covered for about 15-20 minutes

Add sweet potatoes, salt, pepper to taste and cook 10 minutes more. Add chard last, stirring until all ingredients are tender about 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

(Using purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes adds a nice sweetness to this stew. Orange varieties would also be yummy.)

The combination of thyme, wine and sweet potatoes make this easy stew really delicious.

The combination of thyme, wine and sweet potatoes make this easy stew really delicious.


Eggplant Taco Filling


Eggplant Taco Filling on top of greens with chopped tomato, avocado and vegan “cheese” sauce

Tricking small boys into eating large amounts of organic vegetables is getting more difficult. I suppose tastes change as kids grow, because he used to love everything I put in front of him, and now, it’s like, “meh.”

Eggplant grows really easily here and so it’s one of those vegetables that belongs in the garden, but what can you do with all of it? Eggplant parmigiana or the dozen or so other ways to fry eggplant is not so healthy so we only have that once in awhile. But THIS way to eat eggplant we could do once a week.  WIN.


I give you Eggplant Taco Filling!


There’s no precise “recipe” here but here are some guesses:

1 tbsp olive oil

2-3 eggplant chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 onion chopped

2-3 garlic cloves (minced)

1-2 tbsp taco seasoning (or mix your own with cumin, chili powder, garlic, onion, oregano)

STOP HERE if you just want eggplant tacos. I added more stuff:


1 can vegetarian refried beans

1 can organic corn

Saute some onion and garlic in a bit of oil for about 5 minutes in a skillet. Add the chopped eggplant and cook until eggplant is soft. Add seasoning and some liquid as you cook- the eggplant can get really dry and stick to the bottom of your skillet.

When finished, pulse a few times in the food processor.

Then, if you are adding more stuff, put back in the skillet and add the beans, corn or whatever else you are adding. Heat through and serve in taco shells, burritos or on top of a big ol’ Mexi-salad like we did. Ethan ate his on top of some quinoa with chopped tomatoes, avocado and a sprinkle of cheese. 🙂