The sustainable garden isn’t finished in a day, but rather stewarded from one generation of humanity to the next. It may not save money, but hopefully the planet, it may not impress others, but hopefully heal your own soul back to the state of robust wellbeing that only nature seems to be strong enough to restore. – Sakura Mendoza
What is Permaculture?
It Started with Cherry Tomatoes
My first plant as a proud “pretend farmer” was tomatoes. I grew up watching my grandfather grow cherry tomatoes indoors during snowy winter. As an adult I grew them myself in a scorching desert via a tiny aquaponic system and had a great time harvesting them with my daughter for lunches. I thought when I moved to Hawaii my success growing food to eat would be much easier and larger due to more abundant water and better weather (I was wrong). 🍅
Tomato Failure 1 – Overgrowth and a bunch of slugs having a party on the tomatoes grossing me out.
Tomato Failure 2 – Abandonment, no maintenance care/over growth/falling over.
Tomato Failure 3 – Early Blight probably transferred by White Flies, I was surprised because it happened indoors, but all the classic symptoms hit my plants.
Tomatoes Now – Sprouting some Mountain Magic cherry tomatoes in my kitchen aerogarden.
Hawaiian Gardening Harder Than Expected
Gardening is a major passion of mine, but there are times I have needed and wanted a break as well, so it’s hard to fully put to words the relationship between me and gardening. I believe that as people we rely on market gardening to survive so either we are doing it or someone is doing it on our behalf. I thought it would be an easy jump to growing all I need when I started having access to a home in Hawaii, but hurricanes knocking things down, special storms from living near the worlds tallest (not highest) mountain knocking things down, wild chickens and roosters and slug carried brain eating parasites (rat lung worm a real thing) later, it’s actually been harder than where I started gardening… our land wasn’t clear, it is and was a forest, and I want it to continue to be a forest, so as I grow food I try to be mindful of leaving nature corridors and how I am affecting the rare birds who live with me and the world’s total wellbeing, but I do still want to shift the plants around me to plants that are edible and or my favorites.
Home Sweet Home
It’s a really weedy lot and rainy lot, everything gets dirty and dilapidated so fast, but the kids keep pulling me back into the garden.
Strawberries Stole Our Hearts
I got strawberry cuttings of Seascape, a plant I had a long time ago that died while I was on vacation before I could taste it’s berries. Bare root cuttings are so strange the first time, no leaves, no flowers, no berries, just brown sticks, but they are alive inside like the roses from Secret Garden. The strawberries came with a card from Rebok with his personal cell phone number, guaranteeing that if the instructions were followed they would live, that really helped me knowing there was someone to call, but they did really well as far as growing. Slugs and chickens like to steal the berries and I didn’t really know how to deal with that mentally or mechanically. It took a long time to make a choice if I wanted to eat produce that had slugs at night, which could for sure get me sick, over time I decided that I did want to take a chance, if I washed the produce like the university said would be safe to eat. I was more afraid when my kids were smaller that if they did get sick they would die and there wasn’t anything I could do, but I found out that you can give Pinworm medicine if you know they ate rat lung parasites and you can get treatment at the hospital even though it might cost a lot, so it isn’t something I want to get, but it’s something that there may be treatment for that many people do survive and that isn’t how I felt about it at first. Today that my daughter is 7 and son is 3 we saw a small slug near our strawberries and they called me over and I put it with metal prongs into a jar of salt water to kill it and the parasites both and reduce the risk to our garden. It would have been an easier choice for me to make the choice of taking the risk myself, but to make the choice for my kids was very different and difficult, just to decide to live an outdoor lifestyle in our area when we don’t have to do so, it’s a difficult choice between less safety for toddlers especially who put things and hands in their mouths that aren’t safe here, or to limit their natural development by taking away outside time and nature time that are both so stimulating to brain growth. And in the end you never know what was right, if my kids ever get rat lungworm I know I will 1000% regret being the one that encouraged them to be outside for school and play, but if they never get rat lungworm I will remain an outdoor school enthusiast and supporter it just depends on how life really plays out.
The strawberries did well, I got them on Amazon after now being able to find what I wanted locally, I used Kellogg’s organic soil mixed with steer manure compost and Kellogg’s Palm, Cactus, Citrus soil blend that is well draining (since it has pumice). Because Rebok said the strawberries need good drainage (thus the pumice mix). Steer manure compost instead of chemical fertilizer is something I like, not that I hate all chemicals or chemistry, but I prefer natural methods when possible.
A few years later, looking for strawberries in the garden is still my kids favorite harvest, I’m still working on slug control, about to use slug collars for the first time and excited to try it, some success with copper tape, but then you have to be really consistent about not letting weeds create bridges over the copper. I’ve made friends sharing and discussing strawberry plants, I’ve never harvested a ton, but I’ve never pinched the flowers off the first two years like you are supposed to do… so one day I’ll try following the rules and see how that goes.
Strawberries Now – Going to try Albion bare roots, the Seascape are still doing well and giving runners and the unknown type my dad planted did okay as well, the Earlyglow didn’t do well for me, but I would try them again.
Giving away strawberries to friends has been really rewarding, strawberries are definitely a fun plant to own, both beautiful and tasty but also healthy and pretty easy.
Reused Storage Container Raised Bed Strawberries – Winter 2021
Morning Glory Failure – Winter 2021
In 2022 I am having morning glory success on the ferns and trees which is what I wanted, what was different was I put the plants off the ground, some bugs nibble the leaves but the chickens don’t scratch them and most bugs go for easier stuff instead.
I’m super in love with morning glories, I want to plant them on all my ferns one fern at a time, but I’m not sure when because I do want to work on the corn and strawberries ordered coming soon and tomatoes and onions that are already sprouted… and the basil and lettuce indoors as well… so maybe next year.
Square Foot Garden Baby Carrots – Winter 2021
Rest in peace to Mel Bartholomew (the founder of Square Foot Garden), his book, the Square Foot Garden inspired me to start gardening. He recommended peat moss, some people are against that, I am not against it, after thinking about it for many years, I trust the Canadian farmers who say they are regrowing it and only taking a small portion, so although I’m okay trying coco coir, I love the anti-fungal aspects and water retention of peat. Thank you to Mel for starting me on the gardening path, he taught me the value of limits, he said something like “limits allow you to enjoy something even more, though it wouldn’t seem that way.” Although in the end I went down the Permaculture path I found Square Foot Gardening awesome to start with.
I recently ran into Mel’s book on a sofa at a party and it was nice seeing it, it was like being visited by a good spirit in a way, it reminded me of how I felt years ago when I wanted to get into gardening in my first apartment after never having been around it growing up.