GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living


Leave a comment

Old Friends

IMG_1760

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
IMG_1648

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

IMG_1649

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

IMG_1650

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

IMG_1651

Seeds of Change organic cucumber sprouted!

IMG_1652

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.

IMG_1653

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

IMG_1659

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

IMG_1660

Mamaki plant for tea

IMG_1661

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

IMG_1662

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. 🙂


Leave a comment

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!

Rosemary!

Rosemary!


1 Comment

Don’t Weed Your Garden

With a completely neglectful approach to gardening, you get good surprises. Like huge popolo berry that pop up, seemingly overnight!

Popolo berry! No berries yet, but in the next few weeks those tiny white flowers will turn to green berries then dark purple

Popolo berry! No berries yet, but in the next few weeks those tiny white flowers will turn to green berries then dark purple

Popolo berry is a an important native Hawaiian plant, and one that you can’t pick up at your local garden center. It just sort of pops up wherever it feels welcome, I think. The one pictured here is the biggest one that I have right now, but there are at least 5 others of various sizes that I have welcomed by not weeding! Now that I have a few growing, I’m going to try my hand at propagation of this useful plant. I know a few healers who would love to have a supply of this on hand.

Other delights I encountered on my early morning look in the garden include blooming nasturtiums, celosia, lettuce sprouts, kale sprouts and daikon sprouts. I have abandoned my once ambitious seedling growing efforts to now just throwing some seeds on loosened soil and see what happens. This has yielded far better results than expected. In summary, everything so far, has grown. And I was able to dismantle my seedling growing station with lights, etc which took up a lot of space and if I didn’t tend to it would quickly die.

Here’s a few more shots from the lovely morning here on Oahu. Aloha, Friends.

Nasturtiums are blooming

Nasturtiums are blooming

Celosia (I think!)

Celosia (I think!)

IMG_1673

Kale sprouts

Kale sprouts

Strawberries are flowering

Strawberries are flowering

My first try at daikon, sprouts!

My first try at daikon, sprouts!

Tiny lettuce sprouts

Tiny lettuce sprouts


Leave a comment

An Epic Pot of Lemongrass Tea

IMG_1511

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. 😀

IMG_1514

 

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!

IMG_1515

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.

IMG_1518

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.

IMG_1520

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.

 

 


3 Comments

Chaya! Why isn’t EVERYONE growing this?

wpid-20140918_084201.jpg

The easiest plant in the garden.  Bugs don’t bother it.  Propagation is as easy as breaking a piece off and sticking in the ground.  It’s super high in nutrients.  Move over fussy spinach.  Chaya is my new best friend.

Traditional leafy greens like spinach are notoriously hard to grow in Hawaii.  If the bugs don’t get ’em, the heat or sun does, and so we are left with Swiss Chard (pretty easy); some collards (different varieties for different areas) and Tree Spinach, or Chaya.  

wpid-20140918_084144.jpg

Compared to other leafy greens, Chaya is at least two times higher in protein, calcium, iron and vitamin A.  It can help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and is a good source of anti-oxidants.

wpid-20140918_084135.jpg

How do you eat it?  It is crucial to COOK the chaya, boiled or steamed for at least 20 minutes to remove the toxicity of the raw leaves. However, after boiling, you can consume the water as a tea, and it’s quite tasty with a bit of honey or mint added. Then, simply eat the cooked leaves as they are, or add some coconut oil and salt.  I’ve cooked the leaves and added them to omelets, chopped up in marinara sauce and friends have prepared dolmades with them.

There’s a few places on Oahu to get this awesome plant. Best bet is to search Craigslist for “underground” nurseries propagating it, or better yet, ask around.  It might be that your neighbor has some and you can just take a few cuttings.

Aloha 🙂


Leave a comment

Nearly Gourmet Collards

Long time no see friends! Writing has taken a backseat to loads of other demands lately, but we are still eating good!

We dug up a little patch of grass on the sunny-side of our yard back in February to test out some new stuff. We planted corn, beets, collards, green onion, arugula, strawberries, cilantro and cauliflower.  Since we have only lived in this house about a year, it has taken us that long to figure out where stuff will grow. The concept of “right plant, right place” is essential in Permaculture and was the first lesson I learned as a Master Gardener. All the fancy tricks in the world won’t help you grow stuff that doesn’t want to be there!

Good news is, stuff wanted to grow here! In about 6 weeks (from wee seedlings) we got all this! I’ve never grown collard greens before (and only eaten them when served to me!) so I was excited to try out some recipes. The traditionally Southern way of eating collards with loads of pork and chicken broth wasn’t going to work for us so I headed to the kitchen to experiment. I found the taste of the collards to be really good in these simple recipes. Not much added “flavor” was needed at all. Even our 4.5 year old like the creamy soup and asked for seconds!

Our little test plot

Our little test plot

Only two plants yielded a huge amount! After cutting the thick stems, and chopping the leaves, I stuffed two gallon size bags full. Collards pack a big nutritional punch too. Check out the chart on this page for amazing facts.

Rinsing in a bath of water and vinegar to get rid of little critters. Organic gardens have bugs! :-)

Rinsing in a bath of water and vinegar to get rid of little critters. Organic gardens have bugs! 🙂

 

One bag became Hearty Collard Stew.

wpid-20140407_173213.jpg

Hearty Collard Stew

About a week later I made the other bag into Cream of Collard Soup.

Cream of Collard Soup with Roasted Carrots

Cream of Collard Soup with Roasted Carrots


 

Recipes (if you can call it that!)

Hearty Collard Stew (for a 6-8 people or for freezing)

Vegetable broth or water with seasoning

Gallon size bag of collards (with thick stems removed and chopped into about 1 inch pieces)

1 large onion, chopped

4-6 Carrots, sliced

1-2 large Potatoes, cubed

1 can or 1.5 cups cooked beans of your choice (I used pinto)

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 tbsp of lemon juice of white vinegar

Saute the onion and garlic over a little oil or in a thin layer of water in a large pot.

Add collards and cover with broth or water, bring to a boil the reduce to simmer for at least 45 minutes (probably more like an hour or hour and fifteen minutes. Collards are tough!)

When they are nice and soft (you might have to add liquid) add carrots, potatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Add beans last.

Salt and pepper to taste!


 

Cream of Collard Soup (for 4-6 people or for freezing)

Water or vegetable broth

1 gallon size bag of collards, (stems removed and cut into 1 inch pieces)

1 potato

1 cup cashews

1-2 tbsp onion flakes (or sauté some onion)

1-2 tbsp garlic powder (or sauté some garlic)

Place 1 cup cashews and 1 cup water into your blender and set aside. Do not blend yet.

Place collards in a large pot, place enough liquid in the pot to boil them (about half way up the side of the pot) As they cook, you can add more liquid). Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for over 1 hour.

Cube the potato and add. Cook for another 20 minutes or so. Add onion, garlic or other seasonings.

Blend your cashews and water VERY thoroughly. Can add a drizzle more of water if it’s too thick, but the consistency should be that of heavy dairy cream.

If you have a good immersion blender use that, if not, pour the cashew cream into the warm pot of collards, stir, then put in batches into the blender. I had to do two batches. Puree well. It should be a thick, creamy soup.

Serve warm and salt to taste 🙂