Another month has passed already and the garden keeps on growing strong but the hot summer weather has forced a bit of a recalculation in planting design. This past month saw the end of many of our favorite crops. Some had reached the end of their life cycle but some couldn’t handle the change of seasons. It is just getting too hot for most of them in Kaimuki. While it rains quite a lot across much of the island, our neighborhood is dry as a bone. With the onset of summer and ending of the winter rains, the lawns have gone crispy and the garden has gotten scorched. Even iconic Diamond Head has turned from its beautiful green tinge to a sorry drab brown.
(A lot of people think that we don’t really have seasons here in Hawaii. Until I moved here, I always thought a 5 or 10 degree F change in temperature wasn’t very dramatic. Heck, in Maine the difference between summer and winter is 80 degrees! I however, I will admit, much to the surprise of those who know my stubbornness, I was wrong. Those few degrees make the difference between a pleasant warm day and a scorching hot one…which means a lot in my small garden.)
Until the heat hit, I didn’t give any thought to when each type of vegetable needed to be planted. When I lived on the breezy, cool North Shore, Hawaii seemed like the perfect climate for pretty much anything, pretty much any time. At the new house, things are different. In the winter, it is hot enough for basically any traditional mainland summer crop you want but cool and wet enough that you can grow spring vegetables like peas and radishes as well….not so much in the summer it turns out! After a few attempts at radishes that ended only weeks after the seeds were lovingly sown into the ground, I learned my lesson. Each time, the seedlings would get about an inch high and just start to crisp up and die. For a while, I thought I was killing them. Then I realized it was the weather, not my green thumb turning black!
The corn crop was a big hit! While we didn’t get all that much corn from the tiny patch, what we did get was delicious. Roomie #2 was so happy. We grilled it, broiled it, ate it raw, pretty much any way you can imagine. He even had enough to bring a box to his friends. While I’ll admit it I was a bit skeptical about it at first (the amount of space that corn takes up didn’t really seem like the most efficient crop for our small plot), I was very happy with the result as it gave our household a common goal…keep the corn alive!
We have eggplants galore. Stir frys, fried rice, tempura, I think I might actually be getting sick of eggplant by this point. The three small plants I started with back the beginning of this adventure are turning into bushes. I swear their stalks must be at least 3/4″ across and still growing. A second batch of flowers is coming now so I plan to leave them in the ground and just see what happens. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have an eggplant tree?
The chili peppers are going insane. I have been picking and picking and they just don’t quit! I made a chili pepper lei for my Dad’s birthday, I pick a handful or two all through the week, and I picked a huge bunch to dry. Now I have strings of peppers hanging from my livingroom ceiling…I might be taking this whole self-sufficiency thing too far. I don’t know how I feel about this Martha Stewart meets The Burrow decor choice.
In our attempt to grow more heat resistant veggies, I am trying a few new tricks. Roomie #1 and I decided to plant her rainbow carrots in boxes instead of in the ground. Our thought is that we might be able to get a good crop if we keep the boxes cooler. I also am trying a new way of growing tomatoes. I planted them around a bucket with holes in the sides. This way, I don’t get the leaves wet when I water. Hopefully this means less leaf rust. I am also trying a crop of purple tomatillos and more zucchini. The last batch grew well but a lot of the fruits ended up rooting before they ripened fully. This time, I am trying drip hoses at the base so the little baby zukes don’t get wet.
Hopefully these attempts at a new, more thought out gardening style work. I am going to keep looking for crops that grow well in the hot hot heat. Check back in garden update #4!
Happy Gardening! ~ Molly