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Valerie's Garden
24 June 2007


Garden Veggies I make a living as a Kona coffee farmer but I'm not allowed into our garden.  Apparently I have a habit of offering unsolicited advice that the gardener doesn't care for.  So the rule is that the garden is Valerie's and the rest of the farm is mine.  That's fine with me because the garden is filled with icky stuff like broccoli, green beans, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, snow peas, kale, and a bunch of other stuff I don't like.  There's not a single donut, bacon cheeseburger or slice of cheesecake anywhere in the garden.  There are some pretty flowers but that's not enough to get me near the bell peppers or onions.

We didn't grow up in Hawaii so learning to garden here took a bit of adjusting.  The growing season is great but that is more than compensated by the insanely huge number of bugs and weeds.  The porous ground is perfect for growing Kona coffee but it drains too quickly for growing delicate seedlings.  The coffee loves the constant rain too but some garden plants have a difficult time dealing with fungus, mold and root rot.

Peppers Flowers The first year the garden was planted, everything was either eaten by bugs or died for no obvious reason.  Nothing could be started from seed.  Green onions and radishes were impossible.  Beetles and cabbage worms flourished.  Fruit flies killed the zucchini.  Basically, the garden was a miserable failure.

Valerie decided to step back for awhile and let the chickens in.  Chickens love bugs.  They spend all day scratching the ground and pecking at anything and everything.  They didn't bother the larger plants.  I was hoping they'd eat the icky vegetables but they were too busy digging for bugs.

Bees We considered building a chicken fence in the shape of a moat around the garden.  The idea being that the bugs would have to cross through the deadly chicken zone in order to get at the garden.  There was no need though because after a few weeks of chickens in the garden, there weren't any bugs, larvae or weed seeds left.

Valerie headed back to the garden, adding piles of mulch and digging deep to mix it in with the soil.  Then she planted marigolds everywhere.  She refuses to use any kind of chemical pesticides.  Marigolds produce a natural pesticide so she planted marigolds and more marigolds and a little garlic and some citronella too.  The chickens were kicked out of the garden but still allowed to wander around outside.  Between the mulch, the marigolds and the chickens, bugs and weeds didn't stand a chance.

Greenhouse This time the garden flourished:  thyme, tarragon, mint (chocolate and regular), sage (purple and regular), basil, oregano, cilantro, geraniums, two rose bushes, ginger, lavender, rosemary... the list goes on.  We recently cleared out another area for a new garden annex.  We also started construction of a greenhouse.  The greenhouse will help grow plants that need drier conditions.  It will also be a great place to start seeds.

Valerie is going to try artichokes and corn next.  They're not exactly meant for the tropics but with a little care should do ok.  Now her only remaining challenge is to figure out how to make the rest of the family eat vegetables.


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