Monday, October 28, 2019

Coffee Season Has Started

I'm picking my first coffee cherries now. This year the trees are producing heavily. I guess it's because we've been having a lot of rain, with it happening almost every day. Sun in the mornings, overcast in the afternoon, rain by evening.

Most of the trees are heavily loaded. Since the cherries ripen slowly over time, it looks like I'll be picking coffee for many weeks to come. 

The sad thing about our coffee crop this year is that hubby and I won't be the ones drinking it. Hubby has changed to decaf because of heart issues. I've cut out coffee due to reflex disease. So it looks like our coffee will be used for Christmas presents this year....or be used as a trade item. If I can find people willing to trade in green bean, rather than roasted, I'll continue to grow coffee. If not, I'll phase this crop out. I really don't want to be roasting coffee when I can't drink it myself. It's too much of a tease. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Busy Weekend Approaches

Just a heads up. The next 3 days are jam packed with things to do. So I won't be blogging, although I'll still be alive. One of those many activities will be going to see Rocky Horror live play. Eat you heart out guys! It's gonna be crazy insane fun. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tomato Fungal Diseases

So far two fungal diseases have hit my tomatoes. Powdery mildew and tomato leaf spot. Powdery mildew is a common visitor to my farm. But this is the first year I've seen leaf spot. Wow, it's always something new when gardening in the tropics. I find it strange that it isn't the same diseases and pests year after year. Instead, the problems seem to cycle through, then reappear again years later. Well......except for the common things like aphids and stink bugs and powdery mildew. These last three also are cyclic, but not a year goes by that I don't see them on the farm one place or other, one time or another.

Powdery mildew has always been a headache. So I try growing veggie varieties that claim to have some resistance. That helps. I've tried a number of sprays that people suggest. I never had much luck until I learned that prevention was the key. Once powdery mildew is there, you can't cure it. But prevention works fairly well. 

Both powdery mildew and leaf spot. 

I've tried a number of different "natural" sprays. This year I've been using sulfur spray and it's worked best of all the sprays I've tried. But to be fair, this is also the first year I've been spraying as a preventative, not a cure. So I'll need to experiment with the other sprays to see if they work as well as sulfur for prevention. Once a week I've been looking over the plants, removing any infected leaves. Then I spray. The tomatoes are growing in a greenhouse, so rain is not an interfering factor. This factor may be the main reason the sulfur is working. It simply isn't getting washed away. 

Tomato leaf spot is a new one for me. It too is a fungal disease. I noticed that some tomato varieties are more resistant to it than others. Indigo Cherry Drops is super susceptible. Since I haven't been overly wow'd by this variety, I opted to simply remove the plants. Less plants for me to deal with. Of the remaining plants, I removed any leaves that had leaf spot and then sprayed sulfur. 

A bad case of tomato leaf spot. 

Whenever I see diseases stressing the plants, I'll add more fertilizer to boost the plant growth. In this case I've been using extra urine or compost tea in the irrigation water and applying fresh grass clippings as mulch. I can't say for certain that this helps, but I have a feeling that it does. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Perennial Lima Beans?

Bring that this is my first year at being successful in getting lima beans, I wasn't aware that they could possibly act like a perennial. When it came to beans, I thought you harvested them and then the bush was pulled it out or if left, it died off on its own. So I was a bit surprised to see what my bush limas were doing.

The plants look really good, considering they were neglected. They are loaded with blooms.  

I grew 3 varieties of limas (actually 4 but the fourth hasn't bloomed yet) -- Succotash, Dixie Speckled Butterpea, and Jacksons Wonder. The Succotash was a pole type and the earliest to produce. It bloomed, produced pods, then the whole vine died back. No surprise there. The other two are bush types. They bloomed and produced pods over an extended period. Both did fine for me, so fine that I plan to continue growing them. When I had picked the last of the pods, I pulled about half the Dixie plants, but got distracted by more urgent tasks. I figured I'd go back later and clean out the greenhouse in one swoop. I finally got around to doing that this week. Surprise! The bushes look great and are heavily blooming!!!! Wow. I checked my gardening notes and noted that the Dixie variety was producing a few flowers back on Sept 19. But it wasn't a full flush of blooms. Just a tease and a hint of possibly something happening. And the Jackson Wonders weren't making new flowers at all. 

Both the Dixie Speckled Butterpea and Jacksons Wonder are now looking marvelous. I've not paid any attention to them these past 4 weeks, not even watering them. And here they sit, blooming their little heads off. Amazing!

I'm not sure what is going to happen, but I'll give the plants a chance. They'll show me what they can do. In the meantime, I gave them a long, much needed, deep drink of water. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pallet Boxes Second Crop

Right now I'm growing my second crop in succession in the new pallet boxes. As you recall, crop number one was potatoes. After I harvested all the taters, I wanted to grow a second crop. So I opted for green beans. So without adding anything new to the boxes, I sowed seeds.

Over time I've learned that I can reliably get two crops in a row out of a box without having to add more fresh compost. So far I've only tried using beans as my second crop, but I bet a variety of greens (chard, beets, bok choy) or peas would work just fine too. 

Beans - Royal Burgundy

After the first crop is harvested, the material in the box has decomposed to about half way. That is, the full box when I started out is now only half full. By the time I harvest the second crop, the beans, the soil level is down lower, with the box being filled only 1/3. By this time I need to add more fill. So I'll add compost, till it up a bit, getting the box filled about 2/3. Then add more compost on top before planting in order to bring the soil level up closer to full. 

Beans -- Red Swan

Sometimes instead of adding compost, I'll empty the box out, moving the soil to top off an adjacent box. Then I'll start out fresh again with the empty box. I'll mark the date on the box so that I can keep track of how I'm rotating the boxes. I figure that this way the soil won't get "worn out" because it's constantly being refreshed or started over. 

This all may sound complicated, but it's not. Really. Just keep incorporating fresh compost and I can't go wrong. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Just a Newsy Letter to Friends

All is well. At least I think do. No disasters have announced their presence to date. I've just been busy and haven't had time nor desire to blog. So what have I been up to? 

... Harvesting. The sweet peppers produced lots of peppers, most of which had to be processed for the freezer. I managed to use some for trading in order to conserve space in the freezer for other things. The tomatoes have been going strong, although the plants have been battling various fungal diseases. To date I've harvested 53 pounds of assorted tomatoes. They have proven to be a good trade item. The pineapples have been ripening in dribs & drabs, giving me 1-2 a week. And the bananas are coming in on the average on one bunch a week. Usually they seem to ripen in groups, giving feast or famine. But this year they are spread out better. I'm not sure why. The veggie gardens are doing their thing, producing enough onions, assorted greens, root crops, beans and peas, and pumpkins to satisfy our needs and those of neighbors and friends. I didn't plant too much because I knew I wasn't going to be ready to be selling the excess. Selling is something I have in mind to do later, after the farm and house projects are more under control. 
... Roof. The roof project is slowly coming along. The problem is that we have to work around the rain. As soon as the roof gets wet, it's too dangerous to keep working. Slipping off a wet roof is definitely not in the plans! So far we are about 3/4 of the way done. 
... Woodstove decision. We decided to take out the woodstove for now. We've hardly fired it up in the past 3-4 years. Yes, it's getting warmer here every year. We'll store it away for now, but keep it handy should the winters get colder again. This means that we are putting on the new roof sans chimney. Having installed the chimney before through the metal roof, we could always do it again. No big deal. Of course this decision probably means that we will be experiencing 40° nights this coming December. Hahaha. 
... Woodworking project. Got the little table finished. Worked on it a little here and there on the rainy days. I'll be posting photos of it soon. I think it turned out pretty good. 
... Mowing. Yes, lots of mowing. I needed the clippings for mulch. Plus the grass is growing a lot due to the rain and warm weather. I still need to do some more mowing because the place is a bit shaggy looking. At least the mowing is keeping me in decent physical shape. 
... Medical tests. Been spending a few days visiting various doctors, mostly for preventative medicine tests and vaccinations. Most of the results have told me just what I already know-- the body is getting older and wearing out, but is generally in acceptable shape. I still have some endoscopy results pending, but other than that I think I'm through with doctors for quite a while. Let's hope, at least.
... One of the farm dogs has an inoperable tumor, obviously cancerous. We agree that he's too elderly and emotionally fragile to subject him to extreme procedures. So we are spending quality time with him, keeping him happy and comfortable. It is emotionally draining to see such a good animal ending its life early. 
... Pick up truck. The truck I purchased in June has proven to be a problem child. Unlike a real child, I can ditch it and get another without being arrested-- so I did. The transition failed twice and after replacing bits and pieces, the suspicion is that it was an electronic problem. I didn't like the sound of that, so I traded it back to the dealer. It cost me a few thousand, but I felt it was worth it. I didn't wish to deal with a recurring electronic nightmare. So I got an identical truck, hopefully without the transmission problem. 
... I cleaned out one of the house catchment tanks, and ready to tackle the second. Using a swimming pool vacuum head and hose, I set up a siphon and suck up any debris and silt that accumulated on the tank bottom. Our tanks are situated so that the siphon method works. I'll suck the worst of the debris out one day, let things settle for a day, and repeat. While I have the cover off the tank I'm also treating any rust and repainting the tank. So it's a several day project. It's been 10 years since we last did this. Most of the debris on the bottom of the tank appears to be volcanic ash and dust, most likely due to the now defunct eruption. We're still seeing ash building up although not badly. The winds blow the surface ash around. So it's an ongoing issue. 
... Rock gathering. No big news here. I'm always picking up rocks for the rock walls being build along the driveway. But I've been digging out a shallow hugelpit that I made 10-12 years ago, harvesting the organic material for my pallet boxes. When I got down to dirt level, I kept going in the spots where there were no big boulders. Yes I'm crazy. Perhaps I am a reincarnated gopher. But anyway, I harvested numerous 5 gallon buckets of dirt to add to my gardens plus lots of rocks. If I piled all the rocks into 55 gallon drums, I'd say I have 3 barrelfuls. To me, that's a lot of rocks, considering that they are all hand dug and carried. So now I've ended up with a bigger hole than when I started. It gives me a nice pit to use as a bio trash pit, hugelkultur style, for organic debris from around the house area. 
... Once again I volunteered at the Advocats spay/neuter clinic. And I have a KARES clinic coming up next week. 

As you can see, I'm keeping busy. Somewhere amid all this we take time to watch moon rises, sunsets, take beach walks, and take dogs to play dates with their canine friends. I can't complain. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Triple Banana

Here's a weird one.......a triple fused banana.

View from one side. 

It's not uncommon to have two bananas fused together. I don't get one in each bunch harvested, but I see a few each year. But this is the first time I've gotten a triple. 

View from the other side.

It's always fun to find oddities. If you grow things long enough, you'll see quite an assortment of weird stuff. 

On the end you can make out 3 blossom scars. 

By the way, hubby and I ate this one for breakfast, it was delicious.

Totally normal inside, except that there are three of them. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Drying Wet Seeds

I'm learning more and more to save my own seeds. Large dry seed, like corn and beans, are easy. Pumpkins and gourds aren't all that complicated either. But what about tomato? Tomatoes are pretty wet.

A few days ago I processed some orange plum tomatoes, a variety I think I want to keep growing. So I figured I'd save some seeds, a few from each tomato I diced up. So I put the wet pulp and seeds into a glass of water and let it sit for a couple days. Using a spoon to scoop off the moldy stuff on top, I was left with a glass of yucky fermenting tomato water & seeds. I rinsed off the seeds by adding water, stirring, letting the heavier seeds sink to the bottom, then pouring off the liquid. Repeat several times. Eventually I ended up with fairly clean heavy seeds. Now what? 

I've tried drying tomato seeds a couple different ways and the way I like best is to spread them out on a coffee filter to dry in front of a breezy open window. The filter wicks the water away quickly so it evaporates, leaving dry seed behind. 

I used to stir the seeds frequently so that they wouldn't stick to the filter, but now I do just the opposite. Let the seeds stick. When dry, I pop seeds and filter into a glass jar for storing. Having the seeds stick to the filter makes it easier for me to pick out the seeds I want for planting. Otherwise tomato seeds have a tendency to bunch up and cling together. 

I also processed some lilikoi seeds the same way, but their pulp tends to cling to the seeds more so than the tomatoes. No problem. The coffee filter methods deals with this easily. I normally don't save lilikoi seed, but I have plans of growing more plants and guerrilla-gardening them. You see, some of my favorite lilikoi foraging sites have been destroyed by bulldozing.....people clearing their land for house building. No problem. I'll just re-establish lilikoi plants on other unused land. There plenty of places to choose from.  I have one lilikoi vine on my own farm, and plan to add a few more. But it won't hurt to plant a few seedlings here and there so that other people will have the opportunity to forage them. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Relief From Work

Here's something different to feast your eyes on...............

Work was becoming far too serious, so it was time to lighten up. And one way to do that is to let one's artistic heart out to play. So grab some dried tree branches, peel off the bark, sand them down, and cobble them together. Wallah!! A clothes tree! How about that! A few coats of polyurethane spiffs them up nicely. 

View from the other side. 

Ok, it's not a masterpiece, but it is fun. Heck, the price is right and it can always become well seasoned kindling in the future. This particular gem will reside on my side of the bedroom. I've already hung my bathing suit on in hopes of finding it easier next time I'm looking for it. Don't ask me why, but for some reason I can never find the dang suit when I need it. Hope this helps. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Roof is Progressing

Slow but sure, the roof is getting replaced. We're about halfway done. The entire bedroom section is complete. This roof covers the bedroom, walk-in closet, hallway, and two outside lanai (porch).

While removing the old roof we came upon a rat nest. The buggers had chewed through the wood in a corner of the overhang and gained access to the interior. They had a nice cozy apartment. We found evidence that they had chewed a tad on some electrical wiring, but hadn't gotten through the insulation yet. No wires exposed. We were lucky. In the future we need to be more diligent about rats.

Just as we patted ourselves on the back on a job well done, David asked for the end closure strips to finish off the job. Oops. No strips. I forgot to order them. Guess who had to take a day and run over to Hilo to buy 113 closure strips. A costly mistake. Well at least I'll never make that mistake again, since this will be the last roof I need to put on this house. 

So I've been asked about the old roof panels. What do I plan to do with them? A few people have been hoping that they are up for adoption. Not really, I reply. I plan to use them. I did breakdown and give several sheets to a person who was in real need of some roofing. But the rest will be put toward roofing the cat shelters hubby plans to build. By using the old roofing, we will be saving ourselves a considerable sum.