Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ohia Trees (Metrosideros sp)

There are four distinct species of ohia tree that are endemic to Hawaii. In addition to genetic differences, environmental factors will cause physical variations in the trees. Elevation, rain, and temperature all have an effect upon these trees. 
In general, the shapes of leaves from trees growing in hot, dry deserts are often small in order to conserve water loss through the leaf. Contrast this to the large-leafed plants of the tropics. Ohias occur in a wide range of habitats, from just above sea level to 8,200 feet: from dry forests with less than 16 in annual rainfall to wet forests with more than 33 feet of annual rainfall. This along with its genetic propensity for variation will produce trees of diverse appearance. The species name, polymorpha which actually means many forms has eight varieties. Thus tree height and form, leaf shape and flower color are highly variable.
Concerning the care, ohia trees can be damaged and even killed from a lack of water. During periods of drought especially, supplemental watering will be needed. Trees growing in the pahoehoe lava (exhibiting a smooth, billowy, ropy surface) may do well when young and water requirements are low. Nevertheless, as trees increase in size, if adequate water is not supplied, they can dry out and even die.  Mulch will help, but of course, not piled against the trunk.

Since ohias are adapted to grow in low nutrient soils, beware of over-fertilizing. Slow-release fertilizers or natural compost is best. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Start a Garden


Here are some fundamental points to help along the way: 

·      Plant only as large a garden as you can easily maintain. Don’t over plant and become overwhelmed with the many garden chores: weeding, planting, pest control, soil preparation. 

·      Choose recommended varieties for your region. Midwest and Eastern US seed catalogs, with pictures of giant tomatoes are fine, but those varieties are not necessarily adapted for a tropical climate. University of Hawaii CTAHR seed program develops and sells vegetable seeds suitable for the Hawaiian Islands.  http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/seed/

·      Consider locating the garden within easy walking distance to your house in order to carry tools there and eventually return with baskets of produce. 

·      Select a site that receives at least 8 hours of full sun each day.  Plant vegetables where they are not shaded by trees, walls or fences. Nearby trees and shrubs with roots reaching into the garden will compete with the vegetables for water and nutrients.

·      For those with minimal space, grow crops that produce the maximum amount of food for the area available.  You can harvest a lot of radishes, onions, lettuce, bok choy and tomatoes in a small plot.  Plants like pineapple, watermelon and pumpkin squash take up lots of space for what is harvested.  In addition, consider planting vegetables that can be grown vertically instead of horizontally. Vining crops such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and pole beans can be trellised or staked to minimize ground space and increase garden productivity.

·      Plant perennial vegetables such as rhubarb and asparagus to one side of the garden so they are not disturbed as you prepare the ground for subsequent annual crops.

·      And finally, try succession planting. A crop like indeterminate tomatoes can be harvested over a long period of time; one planting will last for many months. With other crops like corn, beets and lettuce, the entire crop will mature at approximately the same time. Unless you want to eat all your corn in a short period of time, stagger the plantings at 2-3 week intervals, or more. Read more about growing vegetables by clicking on the column on the right.

Friday, June 16, 2017

When Are Pineapples Ripe?




The following information is applicable to pineapple varieties presently available in the marketplace, yellow or white.

Select a pineapple that is plump and fresh-looking. The leaves in the crown should be crisp and green with the body of the pineapple firm. A larger fruit won’t necessarily be better tasting or riper than a smaller one.

According to Maui Land and Pineapple Company, pineapples, unlike bananas, do not ripen after harvest. They may advance in shell color, but they do not get any sweeter; they actually begin to degrade. A pineapple on a shelf in the market is as ripe as it’s going to be.  In terms of sweetness, color is not an indication.  Often times, depending upon the weather, green fruit will be sweeter than yellow fruit.  The only true indication is the size and flatness of the 'eyes' of the fruit. Typically, the bigger the eyes and the flatter the eyes, the sweeter the pineapple will be.

The color of the outer shell of the pineapple is not necessarily a sign of maturity or ripeness: a pineapple’s flesh can be ripe, sweet, and ready to eat when the shell is still quite green. A University of Florida publication states, “For optimum fruit sweetness, pineapple fruit should be harvested when 1/3 to 2/3 or more of the peel color has turned from green to yellow.”  

Other indicators are as follows: a good, ripe fruit has a dull, solid sound; immaturity and poor quality are indicated by a hollow thud. If the pineapple is at its peak freshness, it will have a sweet and fragrant odor. If the odor coming from the pineapple smells too sweet and almost alcoholic, it is past its peak. If you don't plan to use your fresh pineapple right away, store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep longer. Generally, once it is ripe, fruit may be held in the refrigerator for up to a week. In addition, the ease of pulling leaves from the crown is not a sign of ripeness.

 Many years ago scientists classified fruits into two categories: climacteric and non-climacteric.  Climacteric fruit usually undergo dramatic changes during ripening. These changes have often been associated with a surge in respiration and ethylene production. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone.
The avocado, apple, melon and banana are classified as climacteric fruits whereas the pineapple is classified as a non-climacteric fruit.

 Non-climacteric fruit (oranges, pineapple, grape, watermelon) do not exhibit the increase in respiration or the rise in ethylene production. In addition, they normally do not undergo dramatic changes such as softening after harvest.