Unpredictable weather has become the norm for Hawaii this winter, with the usual tradewind pattern frequently replaced by strong kona weather systems. This translates into hot, dry southwest winds, generally sunny skies and far fewer rain showers, making wintertime gardening more challenging. Still, success is possible, although it requires one to devote more time and care to the garden. I tend to see that as a good thing, as gardens thrive under our personal attention.
Time Your Watering. Water thoroughly each morning during windy periods to keep soil moist all day.
Beautiful Beans. Grow Filipino long beans (ask friends for seeds or purchase some very mature beans with seed pods at the local farmers' markets) for a prolific, hardy and disease resistant source of green beans all year long. Fences can become gardens if you plant Filipino long beans, oregano, cucumbers, moon flowers (don't let these escape into the wild!), snow peas, stephanotis, black-eyed Susans and other climbing flowers and vegetables along them. Dig holes or shallow trenches and amend with compost, then plant seeds or seedlings.
Planting Schedule. Plant cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, Chinese greens, green onions, cherry tomatoes, turnips, daikon and soybeans.
Arugula and Kale. Sow seeds of arugula and kale for hardy, perennial sources of dark green vegetables suitable for salads or cooking.
Catch Those Caterpillars. Collect caterpillars from the undersides of kale, cabbage and other cole crops to reduce leaf damage caused by cabbage moth, which lays its eggs on the leaves, which are then devoured by the hungry keiki.
Manage Fallen Bananas. Chop fallen banana trees into chunks with a machete and let them decompose right in the banana patch, providing an excellent source of food.
Cut Back Old Plants. Cut ginger and other yellowing or worn tropicals down to the ground, cover with a layer of compost, manure and mulch to keep down weeds and keep watered. Plants will sprout new leaves in spring and flower in summer.