Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Odd Couple: Prickly Pear and Bougainvillea Growing Together

Bright pink bougainvillea and prickly pear cactus in Kula.
This is one of those quirky juxtapositions that I love about Maui.  All sorts of plants grow, often side by side, that seem like an odd combination. I associate bougainvillea with tropical or subtropical climates... and with lush green landscapes... and the prickly pear cactus with the dry, sandy desert. But Kula is dry enough to be like a desert, warm enough for both plants to grow, and quite cool at night. So, Arizona meet Hawaii.

There are actually an amazing number of prickly pears that grow on Maui, both in Kula and in the dry south shore along Makena.  By the way, bougainvillea also is plentiful in Makena and Wailea, but I've never seen it growing next to a cactus!  It's just not a favored plant combination for hotel landscapers.

More bougainvillea, white and red, next to more cactus.

These pictures were taken along Kula Highway, the makai side, or the side towards the ocean, going uphill, a mile or two before Kula Hardware.

I made the mistake once of trying to examine a prickly pear fruit on the ground in Kula. No gloves. It was dumb and my hand tingled uncomfortably with teeny prickles.  If you are tempted to gather prickly pear fruit, bring a good pair of gloves. I've heard that one can roll the fruit on the ground to remove the prickles or roll them around in a bucket of sand.

One thing both plants have in common is thorns. So maybe they are not such an odd couple after all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fleeting Mock Orange Blossoms and Haiku 575 Phone Trivia

The last mock orange blossoms for the season.

Everything is transient.  Even though Maui weather is still mostly sunny, we are entering the season when even dryer upcountry areas like Pukalani and Haliimaile are visited by more rain showers. 

The mock orange started blooming profusely about two weeks ago. The intoxicating and heady scent of small fragrant flowers drifted around the mock orange trees and shrubs and even filled the air inside the car as I drove by. Every time I passed the mock orange trees at the old Baldwin Estate on Haiku Road, I thought, "Oh, I need to stop and take a picture of the white flowers falling on the road."  They were picturesque, like drifts of snow covering the ground on a winter day. 

Well, I didn't take the picture soon enough, and about a week ago, the peak blossom season had ended. Instead of a picture with masses of white flowers lining the roadway, I have a picture of mostly withered flowers.  Mock orange season was short, poignant, and fleeting, like a Japanese haiku.

The inspiration for a poem last week,
flurries of once white and fragrant mock orange flowers lining the road.

By the way, here's a random piece of Maui trivia. The town of Haiku, Maui, which properly should be spelled Ha'iku with the Hawaiian " 'okina" or glottal stop/apostrophe, does not refer to the Japanese style of poetry called haiku. Japanese haiku are short poems, often about nature, that are 3 lines long. The first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables. The trivia part is that the phone prefix for Ha'iku on Maui is also "5 7 5."  Whoever set up the phone prefixes for Maui had a sense of humor.

Here is a Ha'iku inspired haiku for the day:

Oh, five seven five
Fragrant mock orange blossoms
I blinked and missed them.

Well, I do have pictures of mock orange berries. 

Mock orange berries

Flowers last week, berries this week.

Another opportunity for a spontaneous haiku as I count syllables on my finger tips:

Oh five seven five
Where have all the flowers gone?
All pau! Berries now.

P.S. Pau means "it's over."  This haiku is more expressive if you can mimic a local accent for the last line.

Ha'iku, according to my Hawaiian dictionary, is the name of the Kahili flower, Grevillea banksii. I've also learned something for the day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Maui Farmer's Union: Local Venison Update and Food Security Bill

This is the last post regarding the Maui Farmer's Union Meeting on 11-22-11.

Lokahi Sylva announced that local venison should be available for retail purchase by next spring.


Bill Greenleaf spoke about the food security bill the Maui Farmer's Union has been drafting.  The language of the bill can support local agriculture and assist farmers or it can impose the burden of responsibility for food security/safety on local farmers. The proposed language is available at  Bill also mentions KanuHawaii, FACE Maui and foreclosure legislation.

Glenn Martinez, president of the Hawaii Farmer's Union, the statewide organization, also shared a legislative report. He said that 300 members appears to be the magic number for legislators to notice.  He questioned the state's plan to boost the economy by increasing the population by 300,000 people/year. Glenn also thanked FACE Maui for their support in numbers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Greg Hopkins' Worm Composting Demo - Maui Farmer's Union

Warning: Greg does like to use a particular four letter word during his talk. Hint: It begins with the letter S and ends in T.  Greg also explains why he uses this word.  If you are easily offended by swear words, then please don't watch this video. Greg was the last speaker at the Maui Farmer's Union Meeting on 11/22/11 in Pukalani.  This is a free and public meeting, held the last Tuesday each month. For more info,

Greg is a bit unorthodox in his approach to worm composting. He wants to show how easy and cheap it is to create one's own homemade worm composting bucket system. He also explains why he uses food items that are often considered "no-no's" for composting, like dairy, meat, and animal products.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why is my Avocado Tree (or Lychee, Fig) Not Fruiting?

AKA Maui Farmer's Union Meeting 11-22-11: Gardening Questions Answered - Lychees, Figs, Avocados, Artichokes, Tomatoes... and all manner of other topics

Is it better to do one long post or several short posts?  I don't know. 

The Farmer's Union meeting has so many segments, that I am experimenting with breaking the information from the meeting into shorter posts instead of one super-long post.

This will still be a somewhat long post... but covering one topic: the gardening questions asked by the audience at this past meeting.  I didn't take notes on all the questions, but here's what I have. Others are welcome to contribute, or make corrections in the comments.

Q. I have white mold on my collard greens. What do I do?
Vincent Mina said it could be soil issues. Need to feed the soil, not just the plants.

Q. How do I make a garden that can produce enough to live off for 1 year?
One answer is to go to the Mother Earth News website. There is a link to help plan a garden – also available as an iphone application.

Another answer: There’s a method one farmer observed in Peru: farmers moved their planting from one bed to the next over the course of a year.

Another answer: Find the wet borders or wet sections of your yard, to grow taro and yacon and plants that require less care and take a long time to grow. If your garden is tilted, plant these at the bottom area of the garden, where it’s wetter.

(My thought - Craig Elevitch of has been doing some research on this question, and will be making it public later. He did a fantastic talk a few years ago on food security and growing food in a Pacific Bio-Region kind of style, meaning a Polynesian food forest.)

Q. Why is my avocado tree not producing?
Jayanti’s answer: there are A type and B type flowers. One pollinates at night, one during the day. Need both types ideally to get fruit.

It could be from a root stock that is used for grafting, but does not produce a productive tree. One can re-graft it with any variety. It could also be a lack of pollinators or lack of nutrition. Also if a tree is grown from a seed, seedlings don’t grow true to the fruit.

Q Why is my lychee not producing?
Jayanti’s answer: Get the right variety that fruits each year. Some varieties don’t produce. A seedling lychee that’s 30 years old may not fruit. You can keep it and graft it.

Glenn Martinez’s answer: In Hilo, a UH group planted 50 acres with lychee, then waited 12 years for them to fruit. There was no fruit. Eventually, the researches asked around, and learned that the Chinese living in Hilo always have a good luck lychee in the front yard. They dig about a shovel’s worth of soil from the dirt around their good luck lychee, a tree that is fruiting. Then they put that dirt into the new hole before planting the baby tree.  They are inoculating the soil with the microorganisms from the good tree. This puts mycorrhizae around the baby tree roots.

Q. What if it’s an adult lychee tree?
A: Go to a fruiting lychee tree, and get some soil from it, as in the directions above, and give it to the barren tree. Also make worm compost tea when the tree is blossoming, and spray it on the tree. Once the tree successfully fruits, you’re in!

Use worm compost tea and EMs (effective microbes) on the bottom of the leaf, the soft underbelly. The top of the leaf is hardened by sun and wind, so you want to spray the underneath of the leaf. Glenn bent his backpack sprayer tube so he doesn’t have to bend his back.

Glenn likes to alternate EMs and worm tea in his sprayer. It’s about $5/wk. He doesn’t know which one is more effective, but says for $5/week, he doesn’t want to wait 6 months to find out.

Glenn urges that if you have any garden problem, find out who has solved that problem or who doesn’t have that problem. Copy what they are doing. They usually have a routine that works. They may not know even what part of what they are doing works, but you don’t have to know. Glenn says he tried adding a little molasses to the worm compost tea to spray and the plants loved it. He thought it was the worm tea, but later tried a little molasses in plain water, and it still worked. So he says, even though this tip goes counter to what his logical brain thinks: adding sugar to a plant would attract bugs, but it works.

Here's Glenn on video with gardening advice:

Q. Where can I get dwarf fruit trees to grow in big buckets or pots?
Jayanti has some dwarf mango trees and will later have some dwarf avocado trees. There’s also a farmer in Olinda who has dwarf varieties and is usually at the Kula Longs Farmer’s market. His farm is “Aloha Honua.” (Or that’s what it sounded like.)  Go to the http://www.mauifarmer' comments site if you need to contact Jayanti.

Q. Figs are not fruiting much.
Vince's answer: After it fruits, cut the tree to the ground. Put compost on it, and new shoots will come up. It will do 1 fruiting cycle that year not two. When it starts fruiting, you can take a ti leaf, remove the spine from it and wrap it around the figs to fool the birds. Also fig trees need good food in the soil.

Chef Justin Pardo of Market Fresh Bistro had some funny tips to share about birds:

Q. Where to get EMs?
A. Feed store, agricultural supply store, online, on Fridays at Eco Island Supply in Haiku, they offer free bokashi. Click here to see Jenna Tallman talk about bokashi.

Q. Has anyone used seawater to mineralize their soil?
Yes, as a 1 to 100 ratio. Evan Ryan uses fresh unwashed seaweed in Haiku, since there’s good rainfall. But if in Kula or elsewhere, then wash it first. Vince uses Seacrop since he is concerned about adding sodium to the soil, and this product has the sodium taken out.  Evan offers some popular gardening classes.

Q. I have white stuff on my tomato leaves and also the leaves are turning brown.
A. Sounds like powdery mildew. There are some sprays that can be used on the leaves. But it may also be a case of growing them in too moist a place.  

Q. My artichokes are not producing in Haiku, but they did last year.
A. Artichokes need a long time to grow and they need some cool weather. Sounds like a case of growing plants in a location not suited to them. (They do better higher and dryer.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marianne Williamson's Talk at Occupy Wall Street Maui

I wasn't present at this talk on Wednesday at the UH Maui Campus, Occupy Wall Street Maui General Assembly. But the people I've talked to said that they were impressed by Marianne Williamson.  She will also be speaking at the Studio Maui on Friday (today) and Saturday. Maybe she's preaching to the choir, but it's still rousing.  

Gabriel Mott posted this great video on youtube:

Another friend took some audio clips and we're trying to figure how to post them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bett's Simple Japanese Sweet Potato Yum Balls

Another Thanksgiving recipe offered by my friend Bett in Huelo who I just talked with:

Bett's Simple Japanese Sweet Potato Yum Balls

Sweet potatoes
Lime juice to taste
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Raw coconut oil
Coconut flakes

Cook the sweet potatoes, put in a Cuisinart or other food processor, add lime juice and salt and cayenne to taste and a bit of coconut oil...and if too goopy...add coconut flakes to make texture where can scoop out big spoonfulls and roll into balls in palms of hand and then roll in coconut flakes...and voila!  

Note: There are many ways to cook sweet potatoes. Courtney here likes to throw them whole in the oven and roast at about 325 for about an hour, or until soft. The skin will come off easily. Others may prefer to boil them or steam them and then skin them.

Molokai Sweet Potatoes (I think this is the one with the purple color) will cook to a deeper purple and very rich color.

Note: UH Maui College usually has a Thanksgiving celebration, although I'm not sure where or when.
Also, in Haiku, there is usually a public vegetarian Thanksgiving potluck at Blue Mountain's... I don't have exact details, but if you live on Maui, please ask around.

Bett's Huelo Style Raw Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Thanksgiving may be the most difficult holiday for non-meat eaters. I'm not a vegetarian but have been in the past, for health reasons and to oppose factory farming.  Anyhow, it's good practice to find out what diet works for you, and sometimes those diets may change over time, as needs change.  Enough said.

I have a friend in Huelo who is a raw food chef. She has a very easy raw cranberry sauce recipe.

Bett's Raw Cranberry Sauce
1 cup raw cranberries, washed
Fresh orange juice, maybe 1/2 cup or so
Sweetener like raw honey or another sweet syrup, or dates soaked in water...

Blend well. Very fast!

There are infinite variations to the recipe. Sometimes I skip the orange juice and cut up a fresh orange and put that in the bottom of the blender, so that the blades are covered, then put the cranberries in last, and then blend.  

Giving Thanks from an Astronomical Perspective - Harriet Witt's Talk at the Maui Farmer's Union Meeting 11-22-11

Astronomer Harriet Witt usually speaks at the Maui Farmer's Union public meetings each month. This month, she talked about the astronomical significance of birthdays, since there were at least two special attendees with birthdays. Note, this is astronomical, not astrological... Meaning what birthdays represent in space/time. She also talked about "giving thanks" from her scientific perspective.

Last month she gave a great presentation about the Hawaiian New Year, which is the first new moon after November 17th.

Click here to view: Harriet Witt's Makahiki Presentation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Maui Farmer's Union Meeting 11-22-11: Chef Justin Pardo

There is so much information at the Maui Farmer's Union Meeting, that I was thinking I could use a clone or two or three, and maybe an extra computer, a super fast internet connection, better video expertise, and the know-how or software to compress videos for quicker uploading. Oh well. My fantasy wish list also includes having a cleaner, a professional oganizer, and an errand person.

The farmers union meetings are open to the public, and was held at the Tavares Community Center in Pukalani. Last night's meeting was a blast. I'm still processing and uploading videos, and also rewriting my notes for legibility.  Please also visit their website to find the latest meeting info:

The meeting last night included a Thanksgiving style potluck including a turkey cooked by Melissa Panzarini and donated by Whole Foods. Mana Foods also donated a big produce box.  

Since Thanksgiving is coming up tomorrow, here are few video clips of Chef Justin Pardo from Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao. This bistro is located in the courtyard by Viewpoints Gallery and to the left of Makawao Steak House. Chef Pardo was a very entertaining and dynamic speaker. 

Some of his turkey tips include:

  • Thaw turkey in the fridge, not overnight outside.
  • Take out the giblets before cooking!
  • Cook it at about 425 for 40 minutes, as soon as skin is golden brown on top, then turn the oven down to a lower temperature. (This part is in the video clip.)
  • Check with a thermometer to see if it’s ready, don’t test the breast – that’s the part that cooks first, put it in the thigh b/w the bone and breast – in the thickest part of the thigh.
  • Braise legs separately – he likes to cut them off the turkey and cook them in a little stock for about 3 hours, that also makes a nice gravy.
  • Wait at least a half hour after cooking the turkey before cutting it. It has to rest, or else all the juices will stream out.

There were also plenty of vegetarians in the audience who were not interested in turkey! Here's a recipe for cranberry sauce.

Other Thanksgiving Ideas from the Audience and Chef Pardo:
  • Use Kula persimmons in cranberry sauce
  • Stuff the turkey with luau leaves, taro and coconut milk
  • Substitute taro for potatoes
  • Chef Pardo mentioned a turducken: a deboned turkey, deboned chicken, and deboned duck. They are stuffed and rolled together. He hasn't tried it yet.
  • Make chestnut kale stuffing for vegetarians, roast the chestnuts. Chef Pardo says it’s amazing.
  • Make green beans with local beans, onions, not using French fried onions in a can.
  • (Note: my favorite way to make turkey is to stuff the inside with quartered onions and lemons or limes which are later discarded... they make the turkey very tender.)

Lastly, Chef Pardo shared ideas on using leftovers, both turkey and non turkey iems:

I'm hoping to add more info soon. By the way, I am now checking on my turkey, bought at Mana Foods... I just pulled out the giblet bag, then the other bag from the other side of the turkey, and a neck bone. I have a bowl under the turkey to collect the blood - because I am quirky, and I am going to feed it to my plants. Kind of like Little Shop of Horrors. Plants like nitrogen in animal blood. Anyhow, Happy Thanksgiving!

Also... consider registering for Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express - if you have an AmEx card. AmEx will credit you $25 if you spend up to $25 this Saturday (November 26, 2011) at a LOCAL small business registered with AmEx for this program. Upcountry Fine Art in Hali'imaile is participating, and I believe, so is Mana Foods.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shovel Headed Worm, Weird Red Fungi and other Garden Distractions

Note: Updated 12/8/11: I found the name of the weird red fungi: It's a mutinus elegans or mutinus caninus...or mutinus something or other.

There are plenty of things to distract me at my garden plot at Haliimaile Community Garden. Not just weeds, although there are usually plenty of those, but also random other plants and animals.

For lack of a better name, I call this fellow a "shovel headed worm" because his or her? head is flat and shovel shaped. I have only seen these worms here, not around my house. They are very long and flat and striped.  
Ok, found out they are broadhead planarians, aka hammerhead worms, genus Bipalium

Brown snails, unknown species. Do snails travel in pairs?
A shriveled up weird red fungi...with little white "roots."
Another weird red fungi... hmmm...
so who are you and what do you want?

Aha! We found the name of the weird red fungi. It is in the stinkhorn family*... It has a slimy top, kind of phallic shaped. The slime attracts bugs which then spread the spores around. There are white oval "egg shapes" in the ground from which it develops. I will probably do another blog post on it with more pics.

A curled up, sleeping millipede.
Let sleeping millipedes sleep unless they're in your way.
Sometimes these millipedes are so sleepy, that even if I pick them up (with a shovel or thick-gloved hand), and move them, they still don't wake up!  Correction from earlier: this is not a centipede.

Now for plant distractions...

Asparagus keikis (baby asparagus that volunteered from seeds that blew to the far side of my garden plot from the asparagus section.  That Maui wind sure does blow things around.)

Acerola cherry blooming.

Turmeric flowers in bloom.

Now for some technical glitches: (Not sure why the asparagus below is posting up twice... somehow the two photos are linked. Learning HTML will be next on my list - maybe next year : )

That's it for today!  Every time I try to add another photo, this site gets glitchy.  I even have a little error message in the lower left corner of this window. Erg. 

Kuo, M. (2006, September). Mutinus elegans, Mutinus caninus, & Mutinus ravenelii. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:


Cooking Eggs in a Compost Pile

Courtney to egg: "Are you in there?"
Photo courtesy of

Visions of hard boiled eggs cooked in a compost pile have been haunting me for the last week or so.  At recent gardening classes at Hali'imaile Community Garden that YES, I learned it is possible to hard boil an egg in a compost pile. If one gets the compost pile hot enough, using the right combination of nitrogen and carbon, one can hard boil an egg in an hour.

About a week ago, a fellow gardener was making compost. As we finished talking, he said that the compost would get really hot on Friday and I could try the egg experiment. He suggested putting the egg in a hole towards the center of the compost, about 3/4 of the way up from the ground.  He emphasized that I should wear a glove when putting the egg in, because it can get really hot. I wasn't sure I could get there on Friday, and he said it should be hot on Saturday too. Ok!  The experiment was on.

Scaling Mt. Compost, photo courtesy of

Armed with a big glove, a raw egg straight from the refrigerator, and a video camera, I headed for the compost pile on a Saturday morning. My husband shaked his head with disbelief as I left the house.

Here is my first attempt on a bright Saturday morning to cook an egg in a compost pile (click on this link if the video doesn't show up):

Ah, yes... well, technology can be imperfect... as imperfect as human error! 

All night Saturday, I was thinking, ah, if only I had taken a couple of photos too... Instead, the evidence was gone. The egg was mighty good eating, all warm from the heat. All I had left was the aluminum foil with the heat marks. 

There was a hard boiled egg in here, but I ate it. 
The aluminum has heat marks.

I was elated, thinking about how the compost pile could be used as an alternative cooking method, like special stoves at Aprovecho and passive straw bed cooking.  My mind developed scenarios about how people would cook food at the end of the world, making huge cooking compost piles and letting them heat up.

Sunday morning came, and I woke up early, without an alarm clock. It was 6:30 am, and I couldn't sleep. Hmmm.... I pondered the pros and cons of going to the garden and repeating the egg experiement, this time getting footage of the opened egg, versus doing some housework.  Playing around with raw eggs and the compost pile or dusting and sweeping and tidying up? If I didn't go on Sunday, it would wait till Wednesday or who knows when? Well, I was a pushover and the garden won.

This time, I brought two raw eggs in case I screwed up with the first one, and a small, raw sweet potato. I did learn from last time.  I ended up digging three separate holes and putting each item inside.  This proved trickier than the day before, since the holes kept collapsing on my glove, and I ran into a couple of branches or twigs. But I managed to get them inside. Click on this link if the video doesn't show below.

About an hour or so later, Lehuahana Vander Velde showed up at the garden.  I told her about my egg experiments and invited her to participate. Operating a video camera with one hand and dealing with eggs and manure with the other hand is quite tricky, so four hands are better than two.

We discovered that, "Hey do you want to check out the compost pile?" would be a great pick-up line for single gardeners. 

In the next video, Lehua is filming as I dig out the first egg. Click on this link if the video doesn't show below.

We did find the second egg, on the other side of the compost pile, but the camera wasn't on. I saw it, and as I tried to pry it out between some branches in the compost, saw it go splat into the compost. One egg down. The outside was hard, but the yolk was most definitely soft. 

I dug out the sweet potato from the center hole and it was definitely softer and cooked on the outside, but still raw.

The sweet potato, slightly cooked but still hard inside.

Maybe the egg hadn't cooked that well because it was not as close to the center.  The hole that I had used yesterday had worked pretty well. So after finding the first egg - finally, I shook it and it felt a little wobbly in the center, so I moved it to the center compost hole.

Anything in there?
Photo courtesy of Lehuahana Vandervelde. 

Lehua speculated that the compost pile had reached its hottest temperature on Friday or Saturday and had started cooling by Sunday.  WHAAT?? You mean, compost piles don't stay hot all the time?  No, she said, "They definitely have a heat cycle and then cool down."  So using compost piles is not the most efficient way of cooking food, even if there's an extended power outage. So much for my Mayan calendar 2012 compost pile cooking scenarios.

Nothing like playing with horse manure and raw eggs on a Sunday morning.
Photo courtesy of

At that point, I needed to go, and left the video camera and the manure glove in Lehua's hands. "Your mission if you choose to accept it, is to film the egg while opening it."

Here is Lehua's video. I can't believe she was able to film all of that while still holding the egg. (If the video doesn't show on this screen, click here: Hard Boiling Eggs in a Compost Pile - The Last Egg!)

So is it possible to hard boil an egg in a compost pile? Yes, my first egg cooked in 1 1/2 hours, but I don't have any photos or videos of it after it cooked. That's why I went back to the garden the next morning. Of the two eggs that I used the next day, one was partially cooked and got damaged when I tried to remove it after 1 1/2 hours and the other egg was relocated to a hotter hole. It was soft-boiled after about 3 hours. It's an experiment worth repeating, when the compost pile is hot enough. It's also easier when more people can help!  Many thanks to Lehua for volunteering!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

War on Ants!

Blog Post by L Maui Gardener

The many critters and bugs in Hawaii can create a challenge to keeping a clean home free of insects. Most areas rely on the winter "freeze" to kill off the bug population. Unlike the mainland, Hawaii is temperate year round and the bug population continues to increase.

I waged an all out war against the ants this year when I removed a loose piece of my skin from a wound while I was cleaning it and set it on the counter only to find it moving along the tile moments later. No, I wasn't high! There were a dozen ants carrying their newfound "food" away!

A ring of ants discovering food and crumbs.

Ants can be a real challenge, especially in dry weather. Oftentimes on the dry side of the island, such as Kihei, the ants come in looking for water more than food or anything else. Line of them can be found headed for the sink or toilet (Ouch!). Keeping things dry helps keep them outside the house. Wiping the sink and counter with a dry rag and using a squeegee in the shower can help to reduce the attraction.

I find it helpful to trace the ant trail to locate its origin and final destination. The destination tells me what they are after, usually water or a tiny crumb that wasn't wiped up. They may also be headed for the cupboards where there's food.

A wet soapy rag or spray of vinegar on their trail disrupts their scent trail. They may act confused for awhile and run around in various directions. Eventually they reestablish the trail, but it if is disrupted several times they eventually go away.

Looking for the origin of the ant trail.

When I locate the point or origin, usually a tiny hole, I pack slightly moistened baking soda or borax into the holes they come through. They don't like that and go elsewhere, even though they may dig through once or twice before giving up. Using boric acid in the same way would kill them if they dig through, but watch out for the pets and kids!

Ants don't care for mint, so leaving some where they frequent helps too. I find they often just avoid that area and go around it though, so it might require making a solution of mint essential oil to spray around the affected areas to deter them.

Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around is another non-toxic solution. It's like a crystalline powder that has tiny razor sharp edges that cut the ants bellies when they crawl on it. I think it dehydrates them too and they die as a result.

Most imp
ortant, keep food in the fridge or well sealed glass jars. They'll even eat through packages stored in the pantry to get at the food and food packaged like this acts as bait. I never leave open packages in the pantry.

Fruit bowls can be an attraction too. Oddly, I find they avoid my fruit bowl. If they do get into it, I fill a larger bowl with water and place the smaller fruit bowl inside of it to create a water moat that the ants have to swim through. That helps to protect the fruit. The downside is that standing water is attractive to mosquitoes who like to lay eggs in it, so put some dish soap in the water or change it daily.

Ants like oranges and tangerines.
These ants have been secretly eating this Asian pear in the fruit bowl. The hole was on the bottom, hidden from view.

My biggest problem is the water crock. They crawl up the spout and over the edge to get at the water. They don't drown in it either. They collect in clumps and hold each other afloat for days! I use a net strainer to remove them when I change the water crock. Wiping down the outside of the crock with vinegar or a soap solution helps to keep them away too. When dispensing water, I always drain a tiny bit to be sure no ants are in the spout (and my water!). 

Then I fill my glass or bottle. Though I prefer water room temperature, if the crock is too full of ants, I just store the crock for the summer and use one of the blue dispenser bottles on the refrigerator shelf. Then I bring it out in the winter and rainy season when the ants are busy wrecking havoc elsewhere.

When all else fails, I apply a line of boric acid around the perimeter of the house (apply when it's not windy). Boric acid can also be mixed with sugar and water in a paste and placed on a shallow surface near their trails to kill them, but the sugar will else attract them first bringing them in.

Good luck with the buggies!

Till next time,

L Maui Gardener


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Third Friday in Makawao

I've never seen Makawao so busy at night.  Parking was hard to come by, and the police were ticketing cars that were parked on the sidewalk along Baldwin Avenue.  At least eight cars parked illegally, so the county made some money last night. Even Komoda's, Maui's famous cream puff bakery, was open late! From 5 - 8 pm. The stores on Baldwin Avenue made a pretty picture decked out in white Christmas lights.

Some of the Third Friday offerings included: free 30-minute coaching sessions by Lehuahana Vander Velde, demos of Pilates equipment at ON CORE Studio, face painting, and balloon animals, and several performers scattered throughout the town. Galleries and stores were open late, and people thronged the sidewalks. We met artist Jordanne at her gallery but forgot to check out Piero Resta's upstairs studio. We also stopped by the Makawao Steak House and "talked story" with the Maui Happy Hour Club.

Third Friday was definitely a successful night. Unlike Paia, Makawao has fewer restaurants, and more parking lot nooks and courtyard areas. There was entertainment in the farmer's market area as well as in the parking lot at Maui Hands, the parking lot in front of the acupuncture clinic, and in the courtyard/parking area for Paragon Salon.  In addition, I think Casanova had an entertainer inside plus I  heard a few other musicians on the street. All of these entertainers were happening at the same time.

I just uploaded this recent video, a compilation of different street scenes last night: