Posts in the ‘Eco-land Care/Landscaping’ Category

Composting Saves the Day!

Fruits and vegetables are only as good as the soil in which they grow. Back in the old days the soil contained more minerals and nutrients. Plants don’t create their own nutrients, they take it from the soil. Eventually the soil runs low of nutrients, that is why it is so important to put organic nutrients back into the soil. Composting is especially beneficial when farming on land that is repeatedly being used to grow food crops.

Most households generate a generous amount of compost every day. The kitchen produces an abundance of Coffee Grounds, Tea grounds, Egg Shells, Banana Peels and many other fruit and veggie scraps. When deciding to compost you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want. For the sake of this blog I will share three of the simplest ways that I know.

1. Dig a hole and throw it in. Either cover the hole with dirt or an upside down trash can to keep critters and pets out of it.

2. Start a pile. The beginning of the pile can be grass clippings, small sticks and twigs and then garden waste. If you want to make better but more complicated compost, add some dirt from the yard to the pile. This way is likely to attract rats so keep this away from your home. In the spirit of being a good neighbor, this is not an option unless you live on a couple of acres.

3. Make a large compost basket. This can be done by building a frame on top of a pallet. and wrapping the frame with a wire mesh. Chicken wire works and is a more affordable option as opposed to a hardware cloth. Read more »

6 Ways to Control Weeds and Cane Grass Without Chemicals.

Spraying weeds is an ongoing event. The chemicals being sold are of questionable safety and effectiveness.  The weeds get all frizzled up and appear dead for a short time and then before you know it – they’re back. These chemicals cost a lot of money and depending on who you ask many answers will be given in regards to their effect on humans and the environment. The ‘Ohi’a forest is being affected by fungus that is causing large numbers of trees to die. it is unknown what roll landscape chemicals play in this event. Here are a few chemical free ways to keep weeds and cane grass under control while ensuring that the garden is a safe place for the keiki (children) and pets to play.

1. Bamboo leaves as mulch –
Bamboo leaves make an excellent weed barrier, not much other than bamboo will find its way up through a good thick layer of bamboo leaves. Also, bamboo leaves allow water to pass through, while preventing evaporation, allowing moisture to remain in the soil longer.

2. Old fashioned weed pulling by hand –
Pull the weeds by hand. It is very meditative and effective. Weeds can be composted adding more organic matter to the soil, great for the earthworms; healthy earthworms = healthy soil.

3. Hire a few chickens – 
Not only will chickens remove every weed in your yard and your neighbors yard, they will thank you by giving you eggs. Chicken weed removal crews are great multi-taskers.  While scratching up weeds these feathered exterminators are eating up your less desired bugs, you know the ones; the roaches, grubs and centipedes. Chickens are intelligent enough to know not to mess with the bees. Chickens can’t catch dragonflies. They will try to chase down a butterfly though and it is hilarious.  Got a centipede problem, get chickens. Centipedes are a delicacy to chickens. The birds will actually work as a team taking turns pecking at the centipede until it is dead, then one lucky lady will run off with her prize. Thus lessening the chances for centipede pinches while taking care of the garden.  However, you will need to put a fence around anything you do not want the chickens to destroy.

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The $70,000 ʻŌhiʻa Challenge

The Sacred trees of the ʻŌhiʻa forests of Hawaii and now Kauai are dying off in large numbers. These trees…

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Gardening Chemicals, A Solution or a Problem for the ʻŌhiʻa?

What if the herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and fertilizers being used are causing the problem for the ʻŌhiʻa?

When visiting the Corporate owned hardware stores, have you ever noticed that there is an entire aisle dedicated to poisons for the garden. There is also an entire section of fertilizers, many are synthetic chemical fertilizers. Each one of these products contain a different combination of chemicals. Let’s just ponder the ingredients in herbicide products for a moment. Two different herbicide brands can have two completely different active chemical ingredients.

Is it rational to consider that there could be an unwanted synergistic effect happening between any combination of man made chemicals causing certain species to thrive in the absence of another. Or visa versa. It is definitely worth looking into. But who will look into it. One must admit, having the manufacturer of such products investigate themselves does create some temptation to be dishonest in order to keep profits up and shareholders happy.

Let’s also consider for a moment that the Earth herself is made up of her own countless naturally occurring chemicals, chemical combinations, and temperatures variances. Is it even possible to test in a lab the effects of a man made chemical when introduced to an environment full of unknown “surprises”. What if man made chemical “A” mixes with the chemistry in the sap of a plant. What then? Does this new chemical combination support the life of a new strain of fungi that can wipe out an entire forest? We just don’t know and can not rule it out yet. Read more »

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (oh-he ah)

The ʻŌhiʻa  trees (Metrosideros polymorpha), make up approximately 80 percent of the Hawaiian rainforest canopy.  The forest’s canopy filters sunlight and disperses large raindrops into a mist so the moisture arrives on the forest floor more gently not causing damage to delicate plant life down below.

Additionally, these tall canopy trees and their root systems direct water into the ground. Since ʻŌhiʻa trees are much less thirsty than many other plants, they allow much of the rain that falls to pass by them and end up in the aquifer.  The birds are nourished by the flowers and the rough bark is home to tiny bugs, lizards and plant-life, like orchids and moss.

In 2010 on Big Island, Hawaii, in Puna specifically,  residents in that area began to notice that the ʻŌhiʻa trees were dying in their yards and surrounding areas. Hundreds of thousands of native ʻŌhiʻa trees began dying across tens of thousands of acres.

In 2014, the culprit of this die off was discovered to be a fungus, tentatively known at the time as Ceratocystis fimbriata. This fungus already has a reputation around the world for causing problems for coffee, cacao, and mango plants. It’s worth noticing because all three of these crops are being grown on Hawaii’s Big Island and on Maui.

Later still, in what was referred to by researcher scientists as “a surprise twist,” it was discovered that there are two kinds of Ceratocystis fungi attacking the ʻŌhiʻa, neither previously known by scientist,s until the ʻŌhiʻa forest began to die.

What if the the chemicals farmers are spraying to kill weeds are also killing helpful bacteria, bacteria that protect the soil from fungus.  I came across some research that indicated just that. The article states, “Farmers fighting weeds with herbicide” may also be unintentionally killing bacteria that benefit the soil and guard against fungus, new research suggests.” There has to be a better way.

In addition to the fungi problem scientists have confirmed that the fungus killing the forest is being assisted by a non native Ambrosia beetle. The beetle eats the wood and the fungus, carrying the unwanted fungus to other trees.  The waste of the beetle has been tested by scientists and shown to contain 62 percent of the Ceratocytis lukuohia fungus DNA.

Since these two fungi were first discovered in Hawai’i,  Hawaiian names were given to reflect what is happening to the ʻŌhiʻa tree. Read more »

ʻŌhiʻa lehua – A Native Tree and Blossom of Hawaii

ʻŌhiʻa lehua (oh-he ah lay-who-ah) – Metrosideros polymorpha – Native tree and Blossom of Hawaii

Metrosideros is a genus of an estimated 60 trees, shrubs and vines in the Myrtle family. Metrosideros is one of the most prevalent flowering plant genera in the Pacific. New Caledonia has 21 plant species in this genus, New Zealand has 12, New Guinea has 7 and Hawaii has 5. Metrosideros are also living on many other Pacific islands except for Micronesia or Australia for a reason scientists have not yet been able to figure out. The Philippines has one species of plant in this genus, Chile and Argentine do too and there is even one species of this genus as far as South Africa.

Hawaii is home to the Metrosideros polymorpha as it is known in the scientific community, ʻŌhiʻa lehua here in the Hawaiian Islands, or ʻŌhiʻa, or lehua depending to whom you are speaking. The tree is called ʻŌhiʻa and the blossoms are Lehua. There is a Hawaiian Legend explaining how these names came to be.

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The Legend of the ʻŌhiʻa Lehua Tree and Blossom

The Hawaiian Legend of  how the ʻŌhiʻa Lehua (oh-he ah lay-who-ah) Tree and Blossom got their names. The story involves Pele, goddess…

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Tips for Being Mindful of Nature and Others While Visiting Maui

One thing is for sure practicing mindfulness makes us all feel better. There are so many ways to be mindful. We can be mindful of nature, the safety of animals, the health of our environment and of course we can all be considerate and mindful of one another. We are all deserving of respect and mindfulness. No one is better than anyone else we are all here together so let’s make the best of it.  Here are a few ways to take care of the land, nature and each other on Maui.

1. Stay on the trails. This is for your safety and the protection of nature. Many of the trails on Maui are very challenging on their own. Our mud is thick and slippery so wear good hiking shoes, take a good look at those shoes and know they will never look the same after they get stained with Maui mud. Hiking poles may also be your friend when adventuring here.

2. Keep your vehicle on the road. Unless pulling over for emergency vehicles or to allow faster traffic to go by. Let’s keep the cars on the road in order to protect natural habitat and plant life.

3. Take ownership of your garbage – Take your trash with you. If it can be carried in, it can be carried out. Isn’t it nice to experience a pristine natural view? When going on adventures around the island you may see something that was accidentally dropped by someone ahead of you. GO ahead and pick it up because somewhere along the way you have also accidentally left something behind that had to be disposed of by another.

4. Respect Animals – Observe wild animals from a distance as to not upset or disturb them. The Hawaiian Monk seal may look like a harmless creature but it can inflict quite a nasty bite if it feels threatened. Our beach is the seal’s bedroom, this is where they come to sleep, so if you come across a resting seal move away quietly. NOAA, The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, recommends maintaining a distance of 150 feet away from the seals.

5. Show love for plants and trees. Plants and trees have feelings too. Please refrain from carving your name, initials or anything else into the trees and bamboo. Imagine how much lovelier it would be if this were to stop.

6. Shop with reusable cloth bags – never settle for single use plastic. Many stores on Maui sell these amazing souvenir shopping bags. And the reusable nature of Read more »

The importance of buying Fair Trade products and services, not just on Maui but on Earth.

Greetings earthlings! It is important that we continue to improve consistently in order to evolve. This is a great time to consciously empower one another and offer encouragement and support to everyone we encounter. Imagine a supportive environment where you were encouraged to thrive, a space where your peers lifted you up, imagine having the freedom to be who you really are.  What if you were able to accept others as they are. Would this encouragement make us better? Happier? I think it would. Our free flowing positive energy would be spent on creating and growing! What is better than that?

Everyone deserves fresh water, healthy organic food, comfortable clothing and safe shelter from the elements. We need to make sure that each of our needs are being met and that we are paying and being paid fairly. Sadly many of us are being exploited. Even today  some people are working long hours and barely making enough money to scrape by. This is a sad existence, this is not living. But it does not have to be this way.  Companies care about profits thus the most powerful vote we have is the vote we make when we spend our money.  If you don’t stand for it don’t buy it. When participating in a capitalistic society it is only fair that working people receive a reasonable wage for the services and products they provide.  We should expect to pay others what we would want to be paid for providing the same services. Our time is equally valuable.

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Conscious Maui