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This blog chronicles my journey through the Hawaii County Master Gardener program and beyond...

Hot, Loud & Proud - I think???

>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Not having ever done a meme before, I wasn't sure what exactly to do... Sooooooooo, Noel of A Plant Fanatic in Hawaii let me know if I got it!

This "little" beauty was brought to my landscape by mother nature herself ! I have since propagated it to many areas of the landscape!  This purslane was hanging on our lava in a small soilless puka (hole).  So, I think PROUD it is! 
After a little research on the internet, I have found some HOT facts about purslane!
  • There are about 200 species of purslane: Portulaca
  • All parts of this plant are edible! - even Henry Thoreau boiled what he gathered around Walden Pond 
  • They are very high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • It is beneficial for urinary and digestive problems
  • Finally, to many it is just a weed!
And we all know that weeds are LOUD!  Their sheer numbers prove that!  I on the other hand will give this proud, hot and loud beauty a try in my favorite salad with just the right amount of oil and vinegar!!!

Below - The birthplace of my purslane
Below - In flower - great contrast to the black pahoehoe lava
Below - Purlane "pinched-back" to give dense foliage


Home Grown Pest Control Recipes

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rhubarb Leaf Pesticide Spray
1 cup rhubarb leaves
6.5 cups water
1 tsp liquid dish detergent or soap flakes

Cover rhubarb leaves with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes then remove from heat and cool. Strain then add 1/4 cup liquid dish detergent. Spray on plants. Good for aphids, june beetles, spider mites, thrips.
Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing plants.
Garlic Tea Spray
Make your own garlic spray by boiling a pint of water, throw in roughly chopped garlic cloves and steep until the water cools. Remove garlic bits then spray on plants (fromQuick Tips For Plants & Garden).
Garlic, Peppers & Onion Insecticide
2 hot peppers
1 large onion
1 whole bulb of garlic
1/4 cup water
Toss in the food processor and add water, blend until a mash is made. Cover mash with 1 gallon hot (not boiling) water and let stand 24 hours. Strain. Spray on roses, azaleas, vegetables to kill bug infestations. Bury mash in ground where bugs are heaviest. Good for thrips, aphids, grasshoppers, chewing and sucking insects.
Tomato Leaves Spray
Crush leaves from a tomato plant and soak in water for a couple days. Strain then spray. Good for grasshopper and white fly control.
Tomato leaves are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing plants.
Basil Tea Spray
4 cups water
1 cup fresh basil (or 2 TBS dried)
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
Bring water to a boil then add basil. Remove from heat, cover and steep until cool. Strain. Mix in the liquid detergent then spray on plants. Good for aphids.
Salt Spray
2 TBS salt
1.5 gallons warm water
Mix salt and water to dissolve, allow to cool to room temperature. Use for spider mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms and chewing insects.
Slug Bait Trap
Set out beer in shallow containers to attract slugs, they’ll drown in the beer.
Diatomaceous Earth
An all natural solution for insects of all kinds (ants, snails, slugs, etc.). Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around plants with pest infestations.
Horticultural Oil Spray
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
2 cups water
Fill a spray bottle with the ingredients then shake to mix.
Hot Pepper Spray
1/2 cup hot peppers (or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper)
1 quart water
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add peppers. Cover and steep until cool. Strain then mix in soap. If using cayenne pepper, no need to bring water to a boil first. Spray on plants.
Citrus Spray
2 cups orange peels (or lemons)
4 cups water
Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add peels. Cover and steep until cool. Strain and spray. Use the lemon mixture to repel white flies.
Dish Detergent & Baking Soda
2 TBS liquid dish detergent
2 TBS baking soda
1 gallon water
Mix all ingredients together then spray on plants.
Peppermint Tea
1 TBS peppermint essential oil (can also use an infusion made with mint leaves, increase amount to 1 cup infusion)
1 quart water
Mix together and use as an insect spray (good for ants).
Japanese Beetle Bait Trap
2 cups water
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup wine
1/2 tsp yeast
Mix ingredients together and put in an old margarine container, cover with lid and set container out in the hot sun for a day. The next day, remove lid and set in garden where the beetles have been spotted (use a shallow container).
Potato Leaves Tea
1 cup potato plant leaves
2 cups water
Chop leaves then cover with hot water. Seal container and leave 24 hours in a sunny window. Strain then spray.
Potato leaves are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing plants.
Neem Spray
1 TBS Neem soap (shavings)
1 liter water
Add soap to water then let sit for an hour. Shake bottle then spray.


Artistic Tuesday - Phytopathological and Art????

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

Searching the internet for a topic this week I ran across this interesting art contest sponsored by the American Phytopathological Society (APS).  These are the people who study plant disease!  Who knew they were into art!!!  Unfortunately I can not enter, you have to be a member of APS and I am only a Wanna Be Mater Gardener and a backyard artist!

Here are the categories. I especially like #4!

  • Microscopy—SEM and other microscopy images.
  • Whole plant/nature—from the field to greenhouses and pathogens in nature.
  • Digitally altered—changes to the original image, e.g., changing the natural color, orientation, kaleidoscope effects, cloning images, etc.
  • Wacky/humor—plant pathogens represented in slightly less scientific ways.
  • Crafts—hand made objects out of various materials representing phytopathology subjects.
  • Art—paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other forms of physical art.
Seriously - what a great idea to infuse the creative with the scientific!  Check out the website for more detailed information.  2010 Art in Phytopathology Contest  .

One of the winning entries from 2009


Comments Function Fixed

Apparently the comments function for my blog was not working! I have fixed it.
I wanted to have embedded comments but that does not seem to work on this template. As a result, you will get a pop-up window for comments. I have to do more research on how to code for the embedded comments function.

So comment away....


Did You Know???

I am studying for my MG test today!


  • 90% of the Hawaiian native plants are endemic (a plant that arrived before humans circa 400AD but has evolved and is only found in Hawaii)
  • taro, coconut and sugar cane are not native, but Polynesian Introduced
  • sanitation (removal of infested fruits)  is one of the best control methods for fruit flies
  • the Oriental fruit fly attacks fruit and the Melon fruit fly vegetables, hmmmmmm
  • the wedge graft is the most effective method of grafting
  • there is such a thing as a disease triangle
  • less is more when it comes to fertilizers
  • a "prill" is the little polymer coated ball in your favorite fertilizer
Well, I must hit the books again...ugh!


I Need to Study!

>> Saturday, March 27, 2010

We have our second test on Tuesday 3/30!  I have been working on my landscape and posting to my blog instead of studying my MG material!  But, there is always tomorrow, at least until Tuesday!!!! LOL


Ugh! - Slugs!

Hawaii sure does have it's share of slugs! I found this great post on the control of slugs, on one of my favorite blogs - Tip Nut You must check it out!

Hawaii has some special issues with slugs and human disease, particularity rat lung which is a tropical disease.

Angiostrongylus cantonensis, is a parasitic worm and is carried by rats (the parasites live in the pulmonary arteries of rats, hence the name "rat lungworm") Then the local slugs eat the excrement of the rats and then deposit the parisites on the garden vegetibles they so like to eat. As a result, we must throughly wash our produce take from our gardens! Unfortunately a few people on the island have contracted the parasite from their gardens and have suffered life threatening symptoms. WASH, WASH, WASH those veggies! If you are interested in learning more about rat lung disease, check out this article - rat lung.

The information below is from the Tip Nut post on slugs.  But check it out for more slug tips!

  • Coffee Spray: Save leftover coffee to spray plants that have a slug problem, make sure to spray underneath the leaves as well as the stems and surrounding soil. You can also sprinkle a layer of used coffee grounds around the plant to ward off these pests. Slugs won’t like it and will likely move on to greener pastures in a few short days.
  • Vinegar & Water: Pour 1 cup household vinegar and 1/2 cup water into a spray bottle. Spray slugs on the ground as you see them, but be careful not to spray the leaves of plants since the vinegar & water will damage them.
The idea for using barriers is to prevent the slugs or repel them from reaching the plants.
  • Copper Barriers: Copper rings, mesh and tapes can be placed around individual plants to deter slugs, when the slug comes in contact with it, it receives a bit of a shock. Look for these in your local garden center.
  • Egg Shell Barrier: Sprinkle a generous layer of crushed egg shells around the plant, slugs will give up trying to reach the plant since it’s so uncomfortable for them to get across the jagged shells.
  • Diatomaceous Earth Barrier: An all natural solution for insects of all kinds (ants, snails, slugs, etc.). Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around plants with pest infestations. Reapply if it gets wet. Also mentioned in Natural Pesticides: Recipes & Tips.
Slug Traps:
Set out bait or traps to lure slugs. Some of the traps will kill them (by drowning) while others will just collect them for you to dispose of, some methods of disposal:
  • Submerse them in boiling water
  • Douse them heavily with salt or plop them in very salty water
  • Drop them in a pail of very soapy water
What not to do: toss them over the fence into the neighbor’s garden–that’s bad garden mojo!
  • Beer Traps: Bury a small dish or plastic container up to its rim so it’s level with the top of the ground. Fill with beer in the early evening and check in the morning–the dish should be full of slugs. Empty the bowl and replenish each night. Change beer every 24 hours to be effective. Some find it more successful to add a bit of molasses to the beer. Also mentioned in 10 Organic Aids & Natural Planting Tips For Gardening.
  • Yeast Traps: Bury a small dish as above then pour in one of these recipes: 1 tablespoon of baker’s yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 cup of lukewarm water; another recipe is 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon baker’s yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar mixed with 1 cup of warm water. In the morning you’ll find a bowl full of drowned slugs (slugs are drawn to the fermenting yeast).
  • Wet Newspaper Stacks: Slugs will be attracted to the dampness and the shelter the newspaper provides. Lay the papers down in the early evening then check under them in the morning, you should find a happy slugfest enjoying their environment. Get rid of them in the garbage or kill them buy dunking in boiling water.
  • Grapefruit, orange, melon rinds, banana or potato peels attract slugs so leave a few piles of them around the yard (you’ll have a bunch of happy slugs to deal with in the morning).
The abovve Illustrations Of Land Slugs From Wikimedia Commons


    New Website - Check It Out!

    >> Friday, March 26, 2010

    Just read about this new website - Hawaii Home Grown Network



    On Wednesday, I spent at least half of the day weeding! With my large brimmed hat, long sleeves, knee pads, gloves and my trusty weed removing table fork, I got out and kicked some weed!

    So what is the best way to control weeds especially on the east side of Hawaii where the rainfall germinates millions of the buggers! I have learned from my MG that chemicals work, but I prefer organic methods (at least most of the time).

    Above are some of the new little seedlings amongst my rocky soil!

    So what are some of the organic methods for weed removal?
    • Good old fashioned yanking
    • Mulching - this is where your compost is most needed!
    • Weed Fabric or Plastic
    • Cardboard
    • Prevention - Try not to let your weeds go to seed!
    • Flaming - use of a propane torch to nuke the little buggers
    I have recently read about vinegar and corn gluten as weed killers, but have not actually used these products. Apparently, the vinegar should be applied when the sun is shinning and in the heat of the day.

    The University of Hawaii puts out a white paper on controlling weeds.


    Avocado Update

    >> Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Although, several of the old leaves turned brown and dropped, the Haas seems to be doing OK. There are two new branches and the new leaves are still young.  They should get darker green as they mature.  Go Haas go!  :)




    Artistic Tuesday - Color and More Color

    >> Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    This is a simple Artistic Tuesday post - Color. I found these photos on the internet and there is no need to comment. A picture is worth a thousand words! And color is one of those words...


    Grafting an Avocado

    >> Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Today we learned about fruit trees that will grow in Hawaii and about grafting methods. We actually got to graft an avocado. I grafted the "green gold" species. Now it is a matter of waiting to see if the graft takes.


    Artistic Tuesday - Sculptures

    >> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    If I could afford art pieces for the garden I would have lots of them!

    I was recently reading some garden blogs when I cam across The Gardens of Petersonville blog.  In it I noticed a tag called "art".  I selected this tag and was happy to see so many art pieces that complemented the garden.  Of course I have my favorites and I am sharing three with you today.

    For artistic ideas for the garden, check out this blog! The Gardens of Petersonville

    These photos were copied with permission from The Gardens of Pertersonville.


    Good Results! And Hawaii's Fruit Flies!

    >> Monday, March 15, 2010

    I am happy to report that I received a 51/52 on my first MG test! :)
    In class we learned about the 4 fruit flies negatively affecting Hawaii's commercial agriculture and backyard growers. The fruit fly essentially destroyed the profitable mango production on Kauai.  However, with the help of the University of Hawaii and the USDA  the fruit fly is better under control in Hawaii.  The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), Hawaii publishes a very good white paper on fruit flies.  

    Since I live at about 20-25ft my garden will be most affected by the Oriental Fruit Fly and the Melon Fruit Fly.  Since I currently have no vegetables or fruits in my current garden, I plan to set out traps within the next month to get baseline numbers.  Soon we will be building raised vegetable garden beds and I will be grafting a lemon-lime citrus tree.  So it is only a matter of time before fruit flies affect my backyard garden!  And good management is the only solution.
    Oriental Fruit Fly

    Melon Fruit Fly

    "Hawaii is the only state under a full federal fruit fly quarantine; the presence of fruit flies in Hawaii is a threat to U.S. mainland agriculture and a major bottleneck to the expansion of diversified agriculture in the state, for local as well as export sales."  from the Hawaii Invasive Species Program 


    Talk About Wilt!

    >> Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    My poor wilted plant!  I don't think it is coming back!  I transplanted this about 5 days ago.  It started to wilt right away.  I added more water.  Then it got very windy so I think that did not help. We had plenty of rain.  Anyhow the transpiration process has broken down.  I think I will start the cutting right where I want the final plant.  No need for transplanting!


    The First Test is Over! Phew!

    >> Tuesday, March 09, 2010

    I did not study as much as I should have for the first test.  Hey it has been many years since I took an academic test!  There was so much material! It became a guessing game to figure out what would be on the test.  I guessed some material, but missed some, especially in the area of soils.  I will know the outcome Thursday!

    In addition to the test we had a lecture on Floriculture in Hawaii.  Did you know that the anthurium industry in Hawaii was almost wiped out by a bacterial blight?  There is no cure for this blight except for good sanitation practices.  So millions of plants were destroyed to regain the health of the commercial industry.  Today, strict sanitation procedures are practiced during propagation and in the fields.


    Artistic Tuesday - Copper Orchid Hanger

    Today's Artistic Tuesday is a gardening craft project.  I thought of this idea the other day when I needed a gift for the host of a dinner party to which I was invited. I had all of the materials avaialble in my home.  I actually think I will make some for myself!

    Required Materials:

    • copper refrigerator tubing
    • the fibrous like cloth from a coconut palm or a similar organic product
    • an orchid plant


    • Cut a length of refrigerator tubing.  You can get this at the local home store. To make the cutting easy, buy a special tube cutting tool at the local home store. The length will depend on your plant size and the required hanging length.
    • With the cut length, begin to bend the copper into a cone-like shape for the roots of the plant to rest.  Be as creative as you want.  Note:  The copper will begin to "work harden" if over bent making addition manipulation of the copper difficult.  So have an idea of how you want to bend the tubing before you starting.
    • You can see the cone-like shape in the second photo.
    • At the other end bend it so that it can hang from a tree or wall or where ever you intend to put it
    • Take orchid out of the pot and retain as much soil media as possible
    • Take the coconut fiber-like material and loosely wrap it around the orchid roots and soil materials so that the soil does not want to spill all over the place!  This is especially important if  you hanging this indoors.
    • Carefully tuck this assembly into the copper tubing cone-like shape you have created.  You may need to re-bend/tweet the cone to accommodate your plant
    • That's all there is to it!  BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!  And easy!
    Note:  As you can see I created a separate pocket for a succulent.  I am not sure the orchid will like this so I am not reccomending it at this time.  I want to see how they behave together first!


    I Missed a Week of POSTING!!!

    >> Sunday, March 07, 2010

    Wow, didn't think it would happen! But I missed my Artistic Tuesday post and MG class summaries for the week. And class was so interesting! Today I am studying for our first test scheduled for Tuesday!

    We started the MG week with soils. On Hawaii Island (the Big Island) there are many types of soils and they have been mapped by the state. I live in the Puna District and our house is built on 350-500 year old pahoehoe lava with some soil from decomposed ironwood needles. The biggest problem with soils in Hawaii is acidity and the active Kilauea Volcano continues to adds to the problem.

    We brought in some cinder soils (volcanic cinder and soil mix) to our landscape because we are on rock! The trick is to gardening on rock is to find the deeper "pukas" (holes) and fill them with soils.  I am sure I have at least thee different types of soils and will have to manage them differently.  My first step is to test the PH levels.  Has anyone out there used the home soil test kits?

    We covered entomology on Thursday and it is a fascinating science!  The Professor brought in an electron microscope and you would not believe the little critters we saw crawling around!!!  Currently the rose beetle is feeding on  many of my leafy pants.  I am not happy :(


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