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Old 08-19-2013, 06:26 AM
Status: "Plan: Escape cold Minnesota winters, 59 months go!" (set 2 days ago)
 
Location: Woodbury, MN
548 posts, read 312,374 times
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Default Gardening in Maui

I have a question about gardening in Maui, which could be applied to almost anywhere in Hawaii.

We mainly do flower and shrub gardening on a 1 acre property in Minnesota. This year I setup a couple of small gardens for tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. I built garden areas which raised beds using decorative retaining wall blocks. The soil is 100% compost about 12 inches deep. The vegetable garden receives full sun for many hours during the day. The watering is not automated yet, like the rest of our gardens. After about 1 month, the garden creates more produce than we can eat. We have to give it away to our extended family.

The trouble with Minnesota is the winters. The frost in our area comes in late September and sometimes October. The growing season can be extended by covering up plants overnight or even whole days while the temperature is close or below 32 degrees. Eventually, the weather gets too cold and we have to give up and let all the annual plants die.

What happens in Hawaii where you have an endless summer? Can the annual plants produce crops for years or do they eventually die on their own? Or, do the crops produce less or start tasting worse after growing too many months? I've never experienced how an endless summer would effect gardening, since our growing season is only 5 - 6 months long, and always comes to an end as coming winter weather always wins the battle and kills all the annuals that aren't moved inside the house.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Wailuku, HI
237 posts, read 160,974 times
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Agriculture is a big source of income for the locals here. Lots of local growers who grow for profit, or just for personal consumption all year round. Space might be a problem compared to what you are used to. There are more desirable areas of Maui for growing than others. I know Oprah as well as many others have organic farms up country.

The growing opportunities are more plentiful here than in the Minnesota climate.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Wailuku, HI
237 posts, read 160,974 times
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If you had two spreadsheet columns, WIN and LOSE, you could mark WIN for Hawaii and LOSE for Minnesota in this line-item. Gardening in Maui is a WIN over what is possible in Minnesota.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
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In my personal experience, I think it is more of the fact that you can grow things year-round rather than the fact that the plants just keep producing. So, we can grow and harvest our squash in January as well as July.

I'm part of a community garden, and when a plant is finished producing we remove the plant and put in something different. That way we keep rotating our crops and we keep planting new things.

Dave, you could probably get some good information from contacting the University of Hawaii Agricultural Extension Office. Just Google CTAHR for Maui.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Volcano
11,586 posts, read 9,268,297 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davephan View Post
What happens in Hawaii where you have an endless summer? Can the annual plants produce crops for years or do they eventually die on their own?
Don't know much about history, Don't know much biology...

But I do know that what makes a plant an annual is that it has an internal clock that shuts it down after its seed cycle is done. For some that cycle is as short as a month. For others the natural cycle is long enough that changing weather shuts the plant down before the internal clock does. And recent research on one species discovered that only two genes in that plant's DNA determined that it was an annual, and by flipping those two "genetic switches," the plant could be turned into a perennial.

Ask anyone what Hawai'i's top agricultural export is and you'll probably get the answer "coffee," or maybe "cattle," or possibly sugar or pineapple if they are relatively ill informed. But in fact it is agricultural seeds, particularly seed corn, which amounted to $243 million in value last year. The reason is because they can grow three crops a year on the same land, and sometimes four. The controversial part is that they have to use a lot of pesticides to do that, since we don't have a winter die-off of the insect population like most of the CONUS does. That's the biggest drawback to "endless summer" gardening, is that you also get endless bugs.

You'll also see that even among endemic or "native" perennials there is a seasonal die-back in some after they put out seeds. And there are some plants which act as annuals in cold weather climes, while acting more like perennials in Hawai'i. Like I said, I don't know much about biology, I just know that most things in my vegetable garden need to be replanted after each growth-harvest cycle.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Oahu
431 posts, read 401,198 times
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Your biggest battles will be with insects, birds, and molds/mildews and other diseases that thrive in humid warm weather.

Some veggies keep producing, such as indeterminate varieties of tomatoes. Keep feeding and watering them and the vines keep growing, sometimes to immense proportions. Birds, especially bulbuls, wreak havoc on tomatoes---pulling them off the vine when they barely turn pinkish helps somewhat. Tuscan kale will turn into something that resembles a small palm tree---if you don't mind the mild bitterness that comes with older plants, it will go on producing for years (if you can keep ahead of the cabbage loopers). Cucumbers will also go on for quite some time until you miss a hidden cuke and it goes to seed, shutting down the whole plant, or it succumbs to powdery or downy mildew. The soft butter lettuces (such as Manoa, which is the same as Green Mignonette which you may be familiar with) do very well here and you can pull the older leaves for weeks until the plant bolts or, of course, harvest the whole head at once.

Slugs are an ongoing issue too, and to be taken very seriously. They are part of the rat lungworm disease cycle. Words to live by: NO GREEN SMOOTHIES FRESH-PICKED FROM THE GARDEN---EVER!!! Google if you'd like more info (recommended---this is a very serious danger here).

I have a very small garden now, all in containers. Herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, eggplant, lettuce. Citrus in large containers, too---Bearss lime, calamansi, Meyer lemon, and variegated ("pink lemonade") lemon. The citrus bears pretty much continuously, with occasional flushes. I keep them to less than six feet tall for easy picking. A large bay plant in a container, too.

Ornamental stuff too. We have orchids, canna, dwarf plumeria, assorted bromeliads, century plants, succulents in dish gardens, psitticorum, a big Giant Bird of Paradise, Wedding Bouquet bushes, coconut palms, areca, fan palms,ferns, ti plants. A cute little dwarf pomegranate that actually fruits. :-) If I see a pot of something that I like in a garden center, I buy it, LOL.

I would really love to put a white picket fence around the front yard and do an approximation of a Caribbean colonial border garden---a blend of English garden flowers and tropicals. Palms, roses, daisies....yes, I am nuts. I saw hollyhocks at the garden in the Honolulu Zoo the other day....hmmmmm.....

We've set up an irrigation system for the whole yard, including our hanging flower baskets. Watering is on a timer and most potted plants have individual heads with shut-off valves so we can water only the pots that have plants and add heads/valves as needed. We have a few spray heads, too, for watering bromeliads and those plants that can tolerate occasional drying out.

The only pesticide I ever use is insecticidal soap. I spend a lot of time ripping diseased leaves from plants (especially the dwarf plumeria---gorgeous when it blooms but so attractive to so many insects and diseases). I edge my veggie pots with copper (flashing or refrigerator water tubing) to prevent slugs from dining on my little crops.

Gardening can be fun here but it's not all that "easy."
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:26 PM
Status: "Plan: Escape cold Minnesota winters, 59 months go!" (set 2 days ago)
 
Location: Woodbury, MN
548 posts, read 312,374 times
Reputation: 572
Thanks for the information on gardening in Hawaii. I'll have to do a lot more research on gardening in Hawaii. Crop rotation, insect and disease control all sound like they are very important consideration with gardening in the tropics. Thanks for the information on slugs and rat lungworm disease. I will research that further. Upcountry Maui sounds more appealing than near the beach. We currently have a 1 acre lot, but if feels a lot bigger because of the shape of the lot and because it is a lakefront lot. When we first moved in, I had to move 3 sprinklers every 20 minutes from 5 PM till about 11 PM. I installed two 12 - zone sprinkler systems at the same time with spare zones so I could partly automate the watering as I built up the sprinkler systems. I added a third system for a drip irrigation. Doing gardening is a lot of work, and has much as you can needs to be automated. I clustered the gardens, each bordered so that reduces the amount of edging that needs to be done.

I'm not sure how much compost is available in Maui. I would guess that it would be very easy to create a lot of it with all the plant matter and grass that can be used to create compost. We used to use black dirt for the gardens, but quickly discovered years ago 100% compost drastically improves the results. Over time, the compost become black dirt and more compost has to be added.

I look forward to visiting some garden centers there. We enjoy going to garden centers in southern California when we take winter vacations there. Meanwhile, the garden centers are shutdown for the season until spring, except for the indoor garden centers that stay open in the winter, but scale way back. Winters are truly depressing here. Some of the people we know in southern California don't have gardens. Only weeds grow in their back yards. Some have nice gardens. I think it shows a real lack of appreciation and pure laziness if you live in an area with a great climate and own property filled weeds or worse yet, with junk sitting on bare dirt.
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:52 AM
Status: "Wish I lived in Hawaii" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: not sure, but there's a hell of a lot of water around here!
1,793 posts, read 3,676,355 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliPatty View Post

The only pesticide I ever use is insecticidal soap. I spend a lot of time ripping diseased leaves from plants (especially the dwarf plumeria---gorgeous when it blooms but so attractive to so many insects and diseases). I edge my veggie pots with copper (flashing or refrigerator water tubing) to prevent slugs from dining on my little crops.

Gardening can be fun here but it's not all that "easy."
You ever try Dr Bronners peppermint soap on whitefly and all the other year round bugs over here? I used to have a lot of 'fun' with the stuff back in my UCB days, never thought I'd be diluting it to spray onto my little garden here on Maui...

It doesn't mix well with rum, though..... uuuurrrrpppp
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:23 AM
 
Location: Oahu
431 posts, read 401,198 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jungjohann View Post
You ever try Dr Bronners peppermint soap on whitefly and all the other year round bugs over here? I used to have a lot of 'fun' with the stuff back in my UCB days, never thought I'd be diluting it to spray onto my little garden here on Maui...

It doesn't mix well with rum, though..... uuuurrrrpppp
I've heard that Dr. Bronner's soap can be used instead of Murphy's, as can plain old castile soap (which I think Dr. Bronner's might be, with other added stuff?). I have Murphy's on hand but might try Dr. Bronner's when I run out of the Murphy's. Only if it's cheaper, though.
I believe the insecticidal properties are in the potassium salts in these kinds of soaps. I hear people recommending plain old dish detergent but I'm not sure you get the same effect as with the oil/potassium real soaps. I do believe you need the fatty acid component.
And yeah, even the peppermint soap would make a lousy Mojito.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Volcano
11,586 posts, read 9,268,297 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliPatty View Post
I've heard that Dr. Bronner's soap can be used instead of Murphy's, as can plain old castile soap (which I think Dr. Bronner's might be, with other added stuff?). I have Murphy's on hand but might try Dr. Bronner's when I run out of the Murphy's. Only if it's cheaper, though.
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, 18-in-1 Hemp Unscented Baby Mild costs about twice as much as Murphy Oil Soap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliPatty View Post
I believe the insecticidal properties are in the potassium salts in these kinds of soaps.
Rezackly

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliPatty View Post
I hear people recommending plain old dish detergent but I'm not sure you get the same effect as with the oil/potassium real soaps. I do believe you need the fatty acid component.
Here's what the experts have to say about it...

Quote:
All soaps are long chain fatty acids, but not all soaps have insecticidal properties. Insecticidal soaps are specifically formulated to have high insect-killing properties, while being safe for most plant species.

Insecticidal Soap is a Contact Material

Insecticidal soaps kill susceptible insects by washing away the protective coating on the surface of the insect and by disrupting normal membrane functions inside the insect. The insects must come into direct contact with the spray droplets for the material to be effective. Good coverage is essential. The soaps have no residual activity toward insects, but repeated applications may have damaging effects on some types of plants.

Pests Controlled

Insecticidal soaps are used against soft bodied insects and mites such as aphids, thrips, white flies, spider mites and immature leafhoppers. Insecticidal soaps have been about 40-50% effective against these pests.

Guidelines for Insecticidal Soap
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliPatty View Post
And yeah, even the peppermint soap would make a lousy Mojito.
But it sure is nice and cooling in the shower. And so is the peppermint soap.
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