spring '19 garden notes


The garden blogs I read are just bursting with enthusiasm. So many different types of beautiful gardens all around the world and for those experiencing spring, you can hear the excitement in their posts. Hawaii has similar weather all year long, but if you pay attention, you can see the different seasons and changes in the landscape. The mango and avocado trees all around town are exploding with flowers and soon they’ll be heavy with lots of fruit.

A couple of weeks ago I planted two Thompson seedless grapevines. It’s pretty experimental as grapes usually like more chill but fingers crossed. The limes and myer lemons are abundant and getting squeezed on just about everything we eat and drink around here, and the papayas are in season. Tatsoi is a mild green that’s been growing super well this year because of the colder than usual winter and harvesting them is like picking a giant bouquet of greens. The surinam cherry has started to fruit. They look like tiny red pumpkins and I pick a small handful every couple of days, eat a few for their high vitamin C content and then throw the rest into the freezer until I have enough to make a small batch of jam. It’s a tart jam, almost like cranberries which is wonderful with chicken or pork.

My garden is small and it’s very hilly but I’ve got every square inch planted with something and it’s fun to experiment with different plantings and see what works. The poha berries (also called ground cherries) never do well but I keep planting them for the couple of handfuls I get each year. It made a delicious salsa spooned over grilled fish.

The eggplants and tomatoes were just transplanted into the raised beds, along with perilla and the ever present kale. I also started a few plants from pineapple and a pomegranate fruit that I bought at the grocery store and it will be interesting to see if they actually bear fruit. Whether you have a pot on a window sill or an acre to farm, happy spring gardening.

ginger & tumeric - garden notes


time to harvest the ginger and tumeric. i love growing them because they are so easy to grow in pots and the time window to harvest them is flexible. you can see from the photos below that the leaves are dying and the plants look shabby which is just you want, because that means they are ready to harvest. to plant them you take a knob of either one that looks healthy and cut the little fingers off making sure that each piece has a little bump on it which is where the new sprout will grow from. i put 4 or 5 pieces about 2 inches below the soil in each pot and put in an area that will get good sun. keep well watered and i add an inch of compost to the top of soil each month and that’s it. it grows year round here in hawaii but if you’re in a climate that gets chilly, you’ll want to plant in the spring and they’ll be ready to harvest at the end of the summer. it does take 5 or 6 months before you can harvest but well worth it.


here are the knobs after i’ve taken them out of the pots and cut off the stems. the ginger seems to always be more prolific and although it doesn’t show up in the photos, it looks spectacular with little pink young shoots at the ends, and when you break a piece in half, the smell is wonderful even with my loss of smell. it has a sweet and spicy smell at the same time.


then i break them into pieces and scrub them clean. since they are so fresh, the skin is thin so you don’t need to peel them. i like to slice them into little half inch slices and i put them into ziplocs and into the freezer they go. i pull out a few pieces when i need them and sit them on the counter, and they defrost in just a couple of minutes.


for my morning smoothie they can go directly from the freezer into the magic bullet. they are also delicious chopped and added to curries and stir fries. i also simmer the ginger to make tea. there is lots of information about how both tumeric and ginger and their health benefits and there is even some research being done to see if it can help with parkinson’s. happy gardening!

november garden notes


“Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” – Unknown

ahhh the garden in october. the veg beds are slowly coming in. i tried zucchini again this year but had to pull them because they were overly infested with aphids. i think i’ll have to give up on zucchini and cucumber, between the powdery mildew and aphids it just doesn’t work in my humid climate. the chard and tomatoes are doing well along with the various herbs.

the rainbow ti plants just ended their gorgeous bloom which attracts tons of nice buzzy bees, so it’s about time they get a trim. the agapanthus and hilo beauty plumeria tree are ready to lie low for the winter. the plumeria flower is a deep dark maroon color and is in front of the house. over the years i’ve had several people who were driving by stop and ask if they can have a cutting because the color is so stunning. i’m also thrilled to see the two strawberry guava plants that i started from seeds a few years ago have a few fruit flowers starting! each fall i put an inch layer of compost throughout the entire garden and over the grass and it slowly absorbs into the earth, so by the time spring arrives the plants are ready to burst into summer. it really helps my heavily clay soil.

papaya 11.2.18.jpg
lilikoi asimpleislandlife 11.2.18.jpg

the papaya tree has a handful of fruit starting and the lilikoi (passion fruit) has made a comeback after it’s near death and has a couple of fruit starting. lastly the little potted lemon verbena keeps on chugging. i snip off the leaves and brew tea with a little added honey which is wonderfully soothing. between the tea and the chirping of the birds, all is well in my little garden.

september garden notes

it’s still in the high 80’s here in hawaii and this year has been a hot wet one. the veg garden has been minimal this summer because of all the traveling we did this year. so i have some seedlings that i’ve started and waiting to get a little bigger before i transplant them into the raised beds. chard, kale, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, & lavender. there are always a few herbs around. right now its basil, green onions, garlic chives, parsley & thyme.

the year round heat and humidity can make it tricky to grow things here, but what you can grow, many times can be grown all year long. the humidity makes for tons of bugs and viruses, and i don’t use any chemicals in my garden, so i use the planting method called “half for me & half for the bugs,” and try not to stress about it.

the ginger and tumeric are doing well. the leaves are just starting to turn yellow which is a sign that they should be ready to dig up soon. i keep a little of both each year to replant and are just the best in my morning smoothie. the figs i’m still trying to figure out. they are in pots because i don’t have the yard space to let them grown into trees. they were struggling at first but seem to be coming in a little better and there are even a dozen or so fruits starting. i need to do a little research on how to net the plants so the birds don’t get the fruits before we do.

i see four papayas coming in and the lime and myer lemons are also doing well. the lime seems to do much better and i’ve getting them year round which is great for my friday cocktail hour! all is well in my little garden. for me gardening is meditation, exercise, and a lesson that it’s never perfect and complete, but always worth enjoying in the moment.

beauty without trying


sometimes it doesn't take any effort to grow something beautiful. when i was in real estate, i would put orchids in homes i was selling as part of the staging. then one day when the flowers died, i took the bare plants home and and crammed them into holes in the lava rock wall that runs along the walkway to my house. i spray them with water whenever i get a chance but that's about it. and voila!


it's funny how i try so hard to take care of some of the plants in my garden, and the one i ignored the most needed no help at all. hope you're keeping cool this summer!

subtle season changes

when you live in a climate like i do in hawaii, it's easy to let the years go by without much reference to the seasons. i recently listened to a podcast where the host remembered the books she read last summer because she remembered it was at the beach, which meant it was summer. well when you live in hawaii, that could be any day of the year (i know, i'm not complaining :).

in the past i was so busy that i didn't really notice, but now that i'm enjoying the slooooow life, i've been trying to notice the small changes that do happen, even in our climate. the wonderful thing is that certain patterns of memories evolve with the marking the seasons. here are few beautiful blooms in our little island garden.



the crepe myrtle is bursting with blooms. when we first moved in many years ago, it was a dying little plant and i had no idea what it was. i don't see many crepe myrtle in hawaii but i have ended up falling in love with gorgeous plant and look forward to seeing in bloom right outside my living room window. we are going on a road trip in a few weeks and can't wait to them in charleston s.c. and savannah georgia.


i wasn't expecting any mangoes this year as i pruned the tree pretty hard early this year and thought it wouldn't have much energy for fruit, but there is a cute little bunch. i do notice they are smaller than they normally are. this variety is called hayden and it's round with lots of sweet delicious flesh.


the torch ginger seem bloom all year long but in the summer the plants seem more lush and full of flowers. these are great for arrangements because they last quite a while.


the agapanthus wasn't getting as much sun as it needed so in the past it didn't bloom too much but this year it's going great. i don't know what type it is. it's smaller than the other type i have so it might even be some type of lily. if you know please let me know in the comments.

hope you're enjoying your summer and i'd love to see the signs of summer in your part of the world!