A job well done: Couple reclaims 6-acre farm in South Kona

When Carolyn Witcover and Debbie Coke bought the lease on a ramshackle coffee farm in South Kona, they knew they had some work to do. Though they were prepared for a steep learning curve and months of hard labor, they were determined to make their farm productive and try to find pleasure in the process.

Plant of the Month: Pakalana vine offers a lot in a small package

Opportunities to add fragrance to our gardens abound here in Hawaii. To mention a few, we have plumeria trees, gardenias, gingers, pikake, puakenikeni, and tuberose. All beautiful plants with big bold aromas. You might want to consider adding something more delicate to your collection that also packs a sensory wallop.

Plant of the Month: Black Pepper

Years ago on a trip to Frankie’s Nursery on Oahu, I was charmed by their black pepper plants. I recently acquired one and am reviewing information on best practices to be able to harvest my own peppercorns.

A beautiful plant with an unusual name

Those of us who hunt nurseries for interesting plants, occasionally come across something new to us that is lovely. I recently found a beautiful plant with bright orange tubular flowers and a most unusual name. “Oompa Loompa” is a hybridized cultivar of Tecoma stans to which the botanical name Tecoma x smithii is sometimes assigned. William Watson of London first described this hybrid in 1893. It has taken more than 100 years of cultivation, to select qualities that are into this cultivar that now has a funny name.

Slowing down and enjoying life: B and H Farm’s Michael Hayley and Precille Boisvert

I visited B and H Farm on an overcast spring morning. There was a noticeable chill in the air that could be expected at their 2,300-foot elevation in South Kona. About 20 minutes above the highway, a one-lane, partially paved road took me to a lovely farm that Michael Hayley and Precille Boisvert have enjoyed for nearly 25 years. Though high temperatures will hit Kailua as summer approaches, they report that temperatures over 80 degrees are rare at their farm even late in the season.

Gardening in Waimea: Matilda Tompson produces a bounty of vegetables, herbs and flowers

Matilda Tompson was likely born with a green thumb. As a child, she delighted in visits to her grandparent’s farm in Massachusetts. At home in Delaware, she would scour the woods near her house for pretty flowers, dig up the plant and bring it home. Her dad was growing vegetables like lettuce, green beans and tomatoes. He was not always delighted with the addition of weeds from the woods to his garden. That did not discourage Matilda.

Plant of the Month: Maiapilo a xeriscape gem for lower elevations

The winter months are often dryer than usual in Kona. Looks like the weather gods threw out the rulebook this year though. We are having lots of rain this dry season. Overall, however, we are well advised to plant our gardens in drought tolerant plants anticipating drier weather. Maiapilo is a native Hawaiian xeriscape gem to consider growing at lower elevations in Kona.

Hawaii Ulu Cooperative wants to see breadfruit on your plate

On a recent visit to the Hawaii Ulu Cooperative, I was struck by the wealth of information that employees Rebekah Zornes and Chelsea Edinger offered. They work in order fulfillment and sales and are excited about the coop and their products. We perused their large freezers and refrigerators full of their main crop, breadfruit, but also stocked with sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, taro and avocados.

Maka’eo Path: Walking in a Xeriscape Garden

The Maka’eo Walking /Jogging Path has a long history in Kona that continues to unfold. It serves as a paved one-mile long curving roadway for folks to walk or jog. It is surrounded by lots of drought tolerant plants, art objects, small anchialine ponds

Plant of the month: Ponytail Palm

As we move into some drier winter weather, you might want to consider putting in a few drought tolerant plants. The ponytail palm, which is not botanically a palm, is a fun one to consider. It is a very hardy specimen with a remarkable growth habit. Sometimes known as elephant foot it grows from a large swollen base into a slender trunk topped with a fountain of long thin green leaves.

Educating farmers

Getting the latest information about natural and sustainable farming practices and specific techniques can be challenging during our current shut down.

Add delicate color with pink tecoma

Many years ago, I bought a beautiful pink tecoma tree at Kona Outdoor Circle’s Pua Plantasia plant sale. Though it had been pruned into a lovely horizontal shape about 5 feet tall, I later discovered that it was naturally a somewhat tall upright tree. The beautiful pink blossoms remain its most attractive feature today years after I let it return to its usual stately growth habit.