Everything seems to be blooming or producing its heart out this year. Limbs are sagging under the weight of a bumper crop of lychee, mango and avocados, and ornamental trees are ablaze with vibrant color. Along the coast, flowering beach heliotropes exude their delicate fragrance, as seedlings sprout up beneath them in the sand. On Kauai, even the old-timers can't recall seeing the albezzia trees so dense with flowers they appear to have been dusted with snow. Whether this is in response to last winter's heavy rains after years of drought, or crisis blooming signaling harsh conditions ahead remains to be seen. Perhaps Mother Nature is just trying to get our attention, reminding us to wake up and appreciate the splendor all around us.
Plant A Neem Tree. It fixes nitrogen in the soil, its leaves make excellent mulch that help control nematodes and the seeds can be pressed into bug-repellant oil.
Cut Back Leggy Plants. Cut back bougainvillea, night blooming jasmine, snow bush and other flowering shrubs that tend to get leggy. They'll reward your efforts with even more flowers in a month or two.
Fantastic Dried Fruit. Invest in a small dehydrator to dry excess banana, mango and papaya. Quarter banana and thinly slice other fruit to ensure full, even drying.
Watch Out For West Nile. It may already be on Maui. Prevent other mosquito-borne diseases by diligently cleaning up standing water. Tropical flowers, bananas and bromeliads are favored breeding areas that need plenty of attention.
The Power of Citronella. Dilute citronella essential oil, available in health food stores, with equal parts water in a spray bottle. Apply to skin as needed to safely repel mosquitoes.
Seed Planting. Plant seeds to grow soybeans, okra, peppers, eggplant, bush beans and cucumbers, which do well in the heat.
Tomato Care. Protect tomatoes from fruit flies with mesh row covers, available in garden stores and catalogs that fit neatly over the plants. Remove shortly before harvest.
Educate Yourself About GMOs. Participate in meetings the Hawaii Farm Bureau is planning throughout the state this summer to gather public comments about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Hawaii is the nation's hub for experimental field trials and grows much of the GMO seed corn sold to Mainland farmers. Every county has a GMO action group where you can learn more and get involved.