Monthly Garden Calendar for Hawaii

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Joan Conrow

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AUGUST

August is not this gardener's friend. It's hot, the sun is intense, the trade winds often stall, the rain slackens to faint showers that do little to quench the parched soil. The garden requires extensive care just to survive. But it's all part of the cycle, so the plants and I adjust. In fact, I've come to treasure the time spent watering in the mornings and early evenings as a chance to bond with the plants, inspect them for disease, note their growth, harvest their bounty, trim away dead branches and leaves. There's no rushing the process, each plant takes a certain amount of time to adequately drink, so I slow down and enjoy it for the meditation that it is.

Prepare Beds For Fall Planting. Dig in compost, fertilizer or manure and cover with banana leaf or other broad-leafed trimmed foliage to retain moisture and encourage earthworms. Keep well watered.

Mix It Up. Turn compost piles frequently and water often to take advantage of summer's fast-cooking heat.

Don't Forget To Deadhead. Remove dead flower heads and yellowing leaves from ginger and other tropical flowers; cut spent stalk right down to the earth as they're done till next year.

Foliar Fertilizer. Spray liquid kelp or other foliar fertilizers on container plants and heavy-blooming shrubs to give them the kaukau (food) they need to replenish themselves.

Harvest Time. Harvest banana when ridges disappear, but before they turn yellow, and ripen in screened area to avoid fruit fly stings. Share excess with neighbors and friends, or cut into quarters lengthwise and dry in a food dehydrator.

Pinch Your Plants. Pinch off basil heads to encourage bushy growth, and harvest often for pesto, which can be frozen. Most herbs grow well year-round, so there's no need to dry them unless you want flowers or other parts for medicinal uses.

Celebrate Organic Food. Enter your best organic produce or baked goods in the vegetable and home shows of your island's County Farm Fair to educate others about the good taste and quality of organic food.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. Mulch around trees, shrubs and garden beds. Check with your county's solid waste division or private landscape contractors to find local sources of chipped green waste materials.

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