Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Planting Carrot Seeds

Carrots seeds are small and slow to germinate, and the seedlings are fragile. Because of this, problems can arise. 

1) When heavy rains occur, the seeds can easily wash away. Placing some type of cover over the seed bed will help, but it is needed only until the seeds have emerged.

2) Few seedlings will be able to emerge through a crusty soil. Careful soil preparation is important.

3) Follow proper planting directions: 

    a) plant carrot seeds 1/4 inch deep in heavy soils, and 1/2 inch deep in light soils. 

    b) Thin out dense seedlings carefully in order to give roots enough room to expand normally. Space plants 2 to 4 inches apart.

    c) Make sure to check the date on the seed packet to be certain the seeds are current.  

Monday, July 14, 2014


What is this? When touched or sprayed with water, a cloud of fine brown powder will disperse.

This is a puffball. It is a fungus, and a type of mushroom. The name is in reference to the way the spores are disseminated. When pressure is exerted from the outside, as from raindrops or a small animal passing by, the multitude of spores inside burst like a puff of dark smoke. Most puffballs are small like a marble or golf ball. But there is one, the giant puffball (Calvatia) which measures one foot in diameter.

Puffballs feed on organic matter, often times living in the soil on the remains of trees that have been cut down. The puffball as pictured, is the fruiting body of the organism;  as mushrooms are.  The rest of the organism is thread like, growing in the soil.

They are not plant pathogens, and therefore, no treatment is necessary. Most puffballs are edible. Some larger ones are sold in various markets.  

Caution: some puffballs, however, are poisonous. Do not eat any puffballs or other mushrooms that come up in the garden! 

Photo:  Puffball dispersing it's spores. Wikipedia

Monday, June 23, 2014

Growing Roses in the Tropics

Roses indeed are associated with cool climates like San Francisco, Portland and even London. They will, however, flourish in a variety of climates in Hawaii. The early missionaries brought the older type of roses, not hybrids, to the Islands.  

In Hawaii, roses can flower throughout the year in the warmer, sea level climates. They can also be in continuous bloom in the cooler mauka (mountain) communities.

In order to reap the benefit of these beautiful flowers, some care must be invested when growing and maintaining the plants. Here are a few essential points to consider: Roses require -
  •  at least six hours of sun each day
  •  a well-drained soil 
  • adequate protection from strong continuous winds                                             
Rose bushes grown with less sunlight than six hours will tend to be tall and leggy with fewer blossoms.

Roses will benefit from mulch 4-6 inches.  This reduces the temperature of the root environment, helps to control weeds, supplies nutrients to the ground and improves the physical characteristics of the soil. 

A fertilization program should be guided by a soil analysis. For further information on nutrition, and other rose topics, including specific cultivar recommendations, the UH CTAHR website has an old, but good publication entitled, Rose Growing in Hawaii.

Roses are seldom free of pest. This is especially true in the tropics.  Chinese Rose beetles are frequent and serious pests which come out after sunset and chew on the leaves. Tiny spider mites, aphids, thrips and grasshoppers will also trouble the plants. Diseases like powdery mildew, black spot and rust are common. The rust appears on the underside of the leave as powdery pustules of bright orange spores. Diseases are particularly difficult to control when rainfall is high.