Friday, February 26, 2010

Automatic water devise installed!

February 25 -

Yesterday picked up waterers for chickens. Love the efficiency, fill it up once, does not spill, holds three gallons, won't become filled with feces. Chickens are set for water. Placed the chicken feed in the old blue cooler, which I moved to the shed. I marked the lid so hopefully it will stay where I left it. Lots of kitchen waste today so chickens have plenty food.

I let the hen and chicks out of her coop. One of the chicks was dead, no physical marks, probably disease (buried it). I placed a small waterer in the green coop. I also cleaned the food container. Placed chicken feed in small bowl, kitchen waste in food container. I placed a box full of wood chips in the coop as a nesting place. Also put chips in one of the higher nesting boxes. The hen returns to the coop, I asked T. to shut the coop door in the evening.

Treated plants for aphids. Still finding peppers damaged by fruit flies and still seeing aphid damage. Have only seen a few ladybugs. Today saw one mature and one nymph ladybug. So there are a few, I wish there were more. The cucumbers in garden had visibly fewer aphids. Am still feeding the damaged fruits to the chickens in large coop. (the hen and chicks won't eat the peppers)

Beans are sprouting in nursery bed #4.

Transferred 18 cubes of mesclun mix from vermicompost to aquaponics.
Transferred 68 plants (mesclun mix and manoa lettuce), grown in soil, to the aquaponics.

February 24-

T. back from the Mainland and working on the cow's fence. T. and J. will be working with him for a few days. Fixing the fence is priority.

A. is moving wood chips. Will make a pile closer to the garden and leave a pile by the chicken coop to be pushed in later.

Treated plants for aphids.

T. showed me the shattered triangular window on the driver's side of the yellow truck. T. explained that the window was fine before she took her lunch break yesterday, but after lunch it was shattered. The window looks as if it was hit with a rock. The truck had been parked near the garden. It is very strange.

Two buckets of cinder block available, will move plants tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

treating aphids

February 23 -

The news this morning was that yesterday evening the cows crossed through the fence and walked through the garden. The damage was exceptionally mild. The bed that was trampled on the most had not yet been planted. A few of the green onions were walked on and the cows munched on the dill. I salvaged the cucumber so the damage could have been much worse.

Brought the soap and spray bottles to nursery and sprayed all the pepper plants for aphids. Fewer fallen fruit today. Fed the culls (peppers and tomatoes) to the chickens. The hen and chicks are still contained in coop. Sprayed the loofah. In main garden found that ants are farming aphids on two of the cucumber plants, all plants were sprayed.

T. moved the avocado to spot where mango had been, not sure why as tree was flowering. She said she moved seven bougainvilla plants to makai fence.
T. and J. used the yellow truck to move wood chips. Dropped a load on each of the two muddiest spots on the road. Then worked on putting chips around plants. Told T. she could do the papaya, if she wants to. I did ask her to throw more chips into the larger chicken coop as the cement is visible. I said that the next planting area will be along the high area where cucumbers are, asked her to remove rocks.

Seeded yard long beans in three pots. Transplanted three yellow pear tomato plants to cuke climbing fence. I brought several current tomato plants from my house and transplanted along the mauka fence of the nursery.

Talai will be back on island today. Tomorrow he will begin working on repairing the fence. I told T. this and told her that she and J. should help him for the next few days.

Monday, February 22, 2010

February, wind, rain, seeds and growing things

February 22 –

Ran into A. as I was parking this morning. I explained to him that I had moved the gas canisters and I asked him if he could do a dump run. He had J. and G. helping him load up the rubbish into the yellow pick up truck.

I could hear etm speaking with someone in the house so I grabbed the kitchen waste and the rye seed and went below.

Picked up culls of pepper. More leaves are showing the brown tinge. This time when I examined the leaves I could see the yellow dots that mean aphids. I’ll need to bring dishwashing liquid spray the plants.

Took the new hoes to shed. I broadcast rye seed on the raised area between beds #7 and #8.

Transplanted green onion to beds #8 and #5. Showed T. how to thin onion and where to transplant. She worked on beds #3 and #4.

Moved out some of the cukes from croweded hills to bed #4.

I gave T. packet of bush beans to plant on bed #8 and #9.
T prepped the area at end of nursery, will be planted with tomatoes.
T. showed me where port a potty has crack on roof. Looks like something fell on it. In the cleaning last week several sheets of heavy black plastic came to light. I suggested that she use that temporarily.
T and J. left at noon.

I seeded two pots with green onion, three pots with swiss chard and two pots with maui onion.

Cleaned out the mauka cattle water trough and re-filled. Nearly hurt myself wading through the grass. You can’t see the ruts, which were all full of water today. I was soaked from the knees down by the time I reached the fence.

Called Hawaiian Earth Products. They have compost with manure, some with steer, some with chicken. Cost is $43 a cubic yard (standard pick up bed). They are open 7:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday thru Saturday and it isn’t necessary to call ahead if we only want one load, just call in with a credit card number the same day. Material is at their Campbell location, past the Costco gas. 

February  21 –

Signed up to be a beta tester for AgSquared. This is a proto-type of online farm record keeping software. The description is very positive, could be exactly what I need to track from seed to market.

Researched sunn hemp. Found several articles and publications on CTAHR’s website. It looks positive, can plant year round, seed available locally (one pound for $2.75). Plant reaches a height of four feet in sixty days. Can cut the green growth when in bed or just early flowering for maximum nitrogen and lay it on the bed (as the woman in the dvd did with her rye) or can plow it in. 

February 20 –

Mixed up fruit fly bait. Sprayed as directed around peppers and loofahs.
I also sprayed in garden on tree leaves nearest the gourds, which are blooming. No need to spray around cucumbers until they bloom. I have noticed  fruit fly damage on the yellow pear tomatoes so I sprayed the bait there as well. I need to make a fruit fly trap and hang in that area.

I picked up all the damaged peppers and fed them to chickens. It is very important that any fruit fly damaged fruit is fed to chickens or bagged and placed in garbage. It can be buried in a hot compost pile, but if laid on top, the eggs will continure to mature.

The tomato cages were difficult to count in the store and difficult to sort out in the field. Finally got them separated and had eighteen, which is ok. I used the cages on the largest tomato plants. Will need more cages in another week or two.

Moved some cucumbers to beds from over crowded hills. Transplanted green onions from nursery to bed #8.

I planted bean seeds in nursery, so I left the hen and chicks in the green coop.

February 19 –

Did the supply trip to Home Depot. Purchased tomato cages, duct tape, hoes, wire, a few packets of bush bean seeds, spray bottles, etc.

February 18 –

I was walking around to check yard as I thought I would have T. and J. come up and work in yard, when I found that T. had same thought and she and J. were weed whacking around edges and the back area.  I showed T. a spot to start a compost pile.
Asked T. to move flowers to the area around tree.
Etm asked T. to move avocado to area where mango had died.
I showed T. the begonvilla and asked her to plant along makai fence. Later I walked with her and showed her the section of fence and how close to put the plants. Told T. that they could finish at house and then if time on Friday spread wood chips in garden.

Spoke with etm, she will buy the supplies from Waimanalo Feed Supply and I will go to Home Depot. Also discussed moving the cement posts and putting a garden box in between them. Stated I will obtain a notebook so that we can track produce harvested and used by house or me or T. and J.

Moved 13 posts of fukuda mesclun mix to aquaponics.
Took three cuttings of basil, one of grape tomato and one of eggplant and placed in cinder rock in the aquaponics bed.

Tree trimmer dumping a few loads of fresh chips below.

Noticed that more habenaros are falling from plant. When I examined the fruit closely I could see the puncture mark and the softening of the flesh. Cut a few open and eventually found the maggots. I think this is fruit fly damage.
Researched types of fruit fly and I am fairly certain this is caused by Malaysian fruit fly, not a common type but the only type of fruit fly that attacks peppers at sea level.

February 17 –

Spoke briefly with etm before she left for Pearl City.
Walked down the hill to see rubbish and plastic bottles blowing all through the area between the shed and the nursery. T. and J. were in the garden doing unnecessary weeding (I cannot seem to explain well enough that they don’t need to dig up every blade of grass, that bare soil is not necessarily good.)
I asked them to pick up rubbish today, the wind was only going to get stronger, looked like a storm was coming. I had asked this several times before. But it never seems to happen. I see the same food container rubbish caught in weeds by the picnic table as had been there for weeks. This time I worked with them to get them started. I tried to explain to T. why it was important to keep the rubbish picked up:  the clean farm standard and that it should not be obvious that someone is living in the shed. I also said that I realize that trash blows into the area from the road and other places, but it still needs to be picked up.

J. pointed out two full containers of gas sitting behind picnic table and said A, had left them there. When I asked why didn’t they move the containers, I got no answer. As their very young daughter had been playing in the vicinity of the gas cans the previous morning, I don’t understand why they did not move the cans. I told them it was inappropriate for the cans to be there and they need to tell me about things if they don’t want to deal with it themselves. I don’t usually go in that area, so I never saw the gas canisters. I moved the gas canisters in the to most mauka corner of the outside over-hang area. I also moved two additional full gas canisters from within the shed to the same corner. (I later explained to etm where I had put the gas canisters)

During the clean up T. got in a tear and started going pulling all kinds of stuff out and at one point I asked her what was the point of moving junk from point A to point B? I said again that the point of the exercise was to pick up trash, of which there was plenty. T. got pissed and went off at me in Tagalog, which I pointed out to her was not very productive. When she calmed down we were able to talk about it.

Transplanted cucumbers from nursery to bed #7.
Many of the hills of cukes and loofah are sprouting.

February 16 –

The cuttings I began a few days ago are still green and look healthy.
Two of the loofah growing in nursery show signs of fruit fly damage. I removed the fruits. I’ve also noticed that the habernaro peppers are dropping before they ripen. There is a small amount of yellowing on the leaves.

J. & T. brought more manure from cow pasture. Dumped on compost and a bucket on the empty nursery bed.
Gave T. sweet potato and papaya to transplant to corner area.

Explained, again, to T. the need to clean the ecofeed bins and use two of them below and return the others to the original spot. I also said they need to pick up trash.

Green onions planted in pots are sprouting.
Moved 50 pots of east-west mix to aquaponics bed.  Cinder rock is nearly pau.
Planted remaining ten plants of east-west mix in bed #7.
Drew a rough map of raised beds to better track the plantings.

Bought domain names at etmservicesinc and matamoanaranchandfarms.
I need to print out the receipt and devise a standard reimbursement form.

February 15 –

Checked aquaponics first, as I do each day. Noticed that there were three pots where the plants had died.

Watered nursery plants, 10% of the manoa lettuce has sprouted.
At least 50% of the east-west mix has sprouted.
Watered raised beds, tomatoes look good.

Filled up cow water trough, makai side.

Received response from Tin Roof Ranch. They’ve actually had a few people ask to visit their chicken operation, so they are planning a “demonstration day” and will invite those who have expressed interest. However, they are leaving soon on vacation so it will not happen until they return. Luann said she would contact me.

Started a seeding/growth/harvest chart, using an excel spreadsheet.

February  14 –

Seeded the last of the Stevia seeds in a large pot on my lanai.

Researched possible funding for vetiver. Found on the Oahu RCSD website. Funds only available for farms in the Waimanalo watershed.
Site had page on green manure. Oats captures excess nitrogen but Sunn Hemp is a cover crop with “an excellent source of nitrogen”, cites a UH study. Needs further research.
Buckwheat was also cited as an excellent green manure., excellent information.

February 13 –

Brought lemon balm and catnip plants from my house and planted between cucumber hills and the makai cow fence. Also brought a tomato plant and placed in bed #7.

T. planted one packet of green onion and one packet of bulb onions in beds #5 and #7. 

Showed T. papaya plants that needed to be moved from nursery to corner area.
Asked T. and J. to shovel dirt over garbage on hillside. Also explained about cleaning out the ecofeed bins, using one below for returnable bottles/cans and one for trash bags. Mentioned the need to pick up trash before it blows around.

Took two cuttings from lemon balm and two cuttings from catnip and placed in cinder to root in aquaponics.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cows, Collecting manure and planting

February 10-

A. assisted by J. moved half filled the raised beds makai of house with wood chips. Next step is to order compost with steer manure from menehue magic.

T. seeded green onions and bulb onions directly into bed #3.
Gave T. the avocado and mountain apple trees to plant. Picked out areas outside of cow pasture fence, near the mauka gate.

Spoke with Corie, left the time sheets in the office in a yellow folder, very visible.

Sowed seeds in large black pots in nursery: two pots with basil (the seed looked old), two pots with cilantro and one with Hawaiian Chili peppers.

February 11 -

The green onions in nursery are poking through the soil.
The east-west mix in vermicompost is up in half of the cubes. Looks very good.
Cut a section of bird netting to fit the square bin. Placed two trays of vermicompost cubes in the bin and then covered with netting, secured on two sides. This should allow the seeds enough sun and rain, but will not allow the chickens access.

J and T finished clearing higher area makai of beds and T. shaped hills. Planted japanese cucumber and straight eight cucumber. I need to map out the number of hills. Also planted two hills of birdhouse gourd (the last of my seed) and three hills of loofah. T. seeded cilantro and hawaiian chili peppers in bed six.

The chickens had scratched up bed #4 in the nursery. There two plants coming up, in the general vicinity of where I had planted cucumbers. Today I did a row of hawaiian chili peppers, two rows of bell pepper, a short row of bulb onion, a few sunflower seeds and a large bed of the fukunaga mescluen mix.

As I won't be out on Friday I gave T a list of tasks:
priority to mulch around the new cucumber hills and the papaya trees in back corner
clear dead or bruised fruit from current tomato bush
clear weeds from around established tomatos
clear weeds from pineapple, onions and peppers
clear last high area and shape a raised bed
on friday bring down kitchen waste for chickens and check their water.
I also asked that she take some time to secure loose rubbish and other items around the shed as the wind was picking up. And if it does not rain significantly, she will need to water new plants tomorrow.

Called Corie, she will print out new timesheets and I can pick up from her. Meanwhile, i left a piece of paper for T and J to write hours today and tomorrow.

Skies were grey and it rained intermittently throughout the morning.
I asked T and J to take the yellow truck and drive into the cow pasture to fill a container with cow manure to toss on the compost pile. I went to open the gate and get them started. The cows were in the middle of the field but when they noticed the truck those cows came running. T stopped the truck and I was pointing out places where there was a lot of manure to shovel up and suddenly J and I were surrounded by cows. T gave a little shriek and jumped back in the truck cab. It was too funny. The cows saw the truck and they expected papaya to be tossed out. When they realized we did not have papaya, they kept getting closer, like we were hiding papaya in our pockets. We couldn't even shovel up the manure, the cows were all around us and despite banging the truck and clapping hands, they did not move. J and I got back in the truck and we tried driving away from the cattle but those cows would not let us escape. So I told Tita to just turn around and we'd drive back. But the cows would not move away from the truck. We tried backing slowly but the large bull would not move. That bull wanted his papaya. That was when I spotted a box in the cab with a few chicken pecked papaya. I showed the large papaya to the bull and then tossed it a few meters away, the bull went after the papaya and at last we could back up with hitting the huge beast! T drove back to a big manure spot and J and I got out to shovel. The cows followed us back but I think they finally realized that there was no papaya in the truck because they no longer crowded us. Once T was certain the cows were not coming close, she finally got out of the truck. Next time we want to shovel manure, we'll throw out papaya first.

T. showed me where she planted the trees. One of the spots we initially chose was not diggable, she hit what looks like cement, broken up concrete a few inches below ground level. T did a good job of marking the trees off with cement block so they won't be accidently run over or mowed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

planting, mud and farmer's union

February 4 -

Have two full buckets of vermicompost so I started two trays. I seeded 56 cubes with fukuda's east west mild mix, 28 cubes with cilantro, seed harvested from my plants. Did 28 cubes of fukuda's mesclun mix and then 8 cubes of stevia, 4 cubes of birdhouse gourd and 4 cubes of straight eight cucumbers.

In bed number 4 I planted more straight eight cucumbers, birdhouse gourds and sunflowers.
T. transplanted cucumber seedlings to hills in garden.

Asked T. and J. to focus on removing grass on the higher areas, the ground is still soft from the recent rains, grass pulls out easily. Also, to remove grass from areas between beds. Explained to T. how we need to re-shape the beds, moving the soil from center area to increase the height of the bed. Learn from flooding...

February 6 -

Wow. T. not only pulled grass but she understood my explanation of re-shaping the beds and simply did it. Now have two beds ready for transplants and safe from the next five day rain session.
Added kitchen waste to the compost piles.
I actually washed out the water and food containers used in the chicken coop, it was too disgusting. Need to obtain proper water dispensers for chickens, using a open bowl wastes a lot of water as the water becomes so filthy it has to be tossed.
Transplanted tomatoes and green onions to raised bed in garden.
I asked T. and J. to place mulch around the tomatoes and papaya. I asked T. if she could drive the pick up, then she would not have to carry the barrel of chips so far. I was in the nursery when I say T. turn the truck and begin to back towards the garden. "oh, no" I thought, but I couldn't get there in time to stop her. I got there in time to hear the wheels spin and see that she was truly stuck in the mud. T. looks at me and says with surprise, "its muddy". I laughed, "you know it is wet, you walk in it, why try to drive in it?" I tried placing an old section of carpet under the tire to give it traction but that didn't work. I asked T. to go to the house and ask Ali for help. T. was worried, but I told her it was ok, no one would be upset with her. Later Ali came down and was able to drive it out.

T. and J. and I filled the old garbage can with chips and placed chips around the tomatoes and cucumbers. That should help keep the weeds down and keep the moisture in. Also moved the trellis to the new cucumber hills. The cucumbers planted on bed three died, too much water.

I seeded manoa lettuce and bell pepper in the vermicompost. Seeded green onions in black pots.

 T. and J. said they would be working a half day and then going to the hospital to see his mother. They had taken her to Queens earlier in the week. She has not improved.

February 8 -

Had time to feed the chickens and dump the compost before meeting with M.
Walked through the areas where we are considering using vetiver to hold up the stream banks. M. had a classy yellow wheel/measuring devise. The priority area is the corner nearest Waihee Road where the two streams cross. However, we also walked along the far side of pasture where the vetiver could be used as a visual barrier for the cattle. Walked back on the makai side of pasture, ideally, I'd like to use the vetiver in the corner and behind the fence. Might solve some of our fencing problems, it would be a very visual barrier for the cows. M. will submit a proposal.

Seeded more vermicompost cubes, the watermelon variety of papaya, bell pepper, grape tomato and an entire tray of manoa lettuce.

Transplanted approximately ten tomato plants to a raised bed, and  a few remaining onion plants. Watered the established tomatoes in bed two, the majority look very healthy, two are fading.

Picked a lot of current tomatoes and a few of the yellow pear tomatoes. I picked as many red ones as I could find and then sat down and thought a bit about quality control. Under a strict, blemish free quality control protocol, about half of the tomatoes I picked ended up going to the chickens. Most of the blemishes were due to over ripeness. If we pick more often that won't be a problem. Need to think about display.

The hen with the five chicks was in the nursery, again. She was in the eggplant bed, but still, that chicken could do serious damage. The hen flys out, but I think she is walking in, need to look at where she could be coming in.

Fed and watered the chickens, again, before leaving. The chickens always act as if they are starving.

In the evening I attended the Farmer's Union meeting. This was very interesting. I recognized several people. The Union is a good idea, it has potential. Anything that brings small farmers together is a good thing.

T. and J. not working today. Hopefully, they are bring the mother home from hospital.

February 9 -

Moved the eight anuenue lettuce plants to the hydroponics bed.
T. and J. back at work. J. clearing the high ground while T. working on shaping another bed.
Cows were right at the fence, so I used my phone to take a few photos. Will send to someone to identify breeds.

I cleaned out the makai water trough. Let it sit in sun to dry. Asked T. to fill it as last thing before she leaves. I also cleared out a section of wooden fence the cattle had been walking on.

Began clearing old plants out of bed three. Noticed that bed four looks very disturbed, chickens! There is one plant coming up, in the vicinity of where I planted cucumbers. Looks like it will rain so I only watered the vermicompost cubes. I keep four trays on the table under the green shade cloth. Two trays are in the final section of worm bin, under that shade cloth. No chicken damage.

Pulled together a list of needed tools and equipment. I also called Tin Roof Ranch, left a message asking to set a time for a visit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cows out again

February 1

Arrived at farm a bit later then usual to learn that Tl had left for the mainland and would be gone a week. Kl had arrived and was working on fence. Cows had got out again on Sunday. I began by assessing the section of fence where the cows had pushed through. Kl, T. and J. had begun clearing grass from fence. I asked them to totally clear the area, take out the old wire and re-place the poles and re-string wire, (only 20 - 25 feet) if they could string it tight. Kl. said he could do it. I placed emphasis on the sentence "no tools or excess wire are to be left out here".  I left the three of them working on the fence.

I spent much of the day moving lettuce from the seedling tray to the aquaponics table.

The three had strung four strings of wire and placed four poles, closer then necessary, but that's ok. Wire was tight and poles seemed solidly planted. Kl. said he would leave early, I told him that as Tl. was on mainland, there would be no more fence work until he returned. He would be called when there was work.

Pulled weeds around established tomatoes, T. assisted. Used sections of old chicken wire to support vines.

Still rainy and wet.

February 2-

Arrived at farm just as the rain began again. Each day I check the chickens, giving them food and water if needed. Since the rains began, checking the flooding in the garden is the next task. The water level has not risen significantly, the water just spreads throughout the grassy areas. Two tomatoes are partially submerged and have tried to shore up the bed in those areas. Sunday the cows had walked through a couple of the planted beds and eaten a significant amount of the established tomatoes. Oh, well, could have been worse. The beans are up and looking strong.  The cucumbers are turning brown.

Found T. in back corner, she had just finished planting additional papaya plants to replace those eaten by cows. Worked with T. and J. to clear an area on higher ground, nearer the old pig pen. Created seven hills and transplanted cucumbers from the nursery. These are a mix of long green cucumbers and the lemon cucumbers. Did this in a driving rain. T. reminded me a few times that it was raining. I showed her two areas that I want to clear in the next few days, to prepare for additional cucumber and tomato plants. T. and J. signed out, rain showed no signs of letting up.

I took the largest tomato seedlings and transferred them to the aquaponics bed.
Then home for hot tea, I was wet through.

February 3-

Amazingly it was not raining this morning. While the ground around the beds is still saturated, it is clear that the water has dissipated slightly. The cucumbers on bed four are dead, the effect of flooding. Bed one looks very good, some lettuce will be ready to pick in seven to ten days.

Marked edge of compost pile, kualoa side of the water tap, with upright sticks. There is a large dip there, so the vegetation can fill up the hole.

Cleared around the established tomatoes and the new cucumber hills. Pushed in large sticks to mark area around cucumber hills. Cucumbers look very healthy. Seeded bulb onion and Hawaiian Chili peppers in nursery beds three and four.

Ran the aquaponic system to circulate water. Plants look healthy. T. and J. not working today, family issue. Spoke with M. about vetiver. She will come by Monday at 8:00 am to look at the stream banks, make a proposal.

Additional things to do:
Add manure to compost pile.
Mongoose proof large chicken house.
Re-shape raised beds affected by flooding.
Hose stuck in ground by main water tap.
Lots of weeding.