microb's blog

This and That
Posted on Apr 2, 2024 3:20 PM

Lots of hard work the past few months. Chainsaw has been busy along with friends clearing some more forest for more plants. The new area is on the house side of the bridge so closer for viewing. I'm harvesting plants from the far side of the bridge to bring them closer so I can enjoy them without walking for 8 - 10 minutes. I've also created a "jungle room" (maybe it was taking shape on my last blog). Now it is really filling in with plants in hanging pots and those planted in the "bed" on the shelf. The pots in the gutters hanging of the wall are starting to run and hang down to create a green growing wall in the future.
Last obsession is Begonias. I had a few that were doing really well which inspired me to put in two orders from a nursery in Oregon. First order arrive some weeks ago, second order is in the mail. Should be a total of 33 varieties.
Spring has arrived, subtle though it is here. Grass starts to grow, days get longer and warmer and everything is getting out of control once again.
My friend with the orchid nursery gifted me some more trays of "seconds" because he needed to free up bench space. He has over 100,000 pots of orchids in various stages of growth. Some of my is spent mounting the orchids on trees and on tree fern poles in the jungle room. Many will survive and bloom in years to come.
Orchid Cactus are starting to show buds, Amorphophallus are waking up, collection of philodendrons are growing and starting to climb trees.
I discovered I had a Heliconia called Red Carpet. It bloomed for the first time this year. Recently a local nursery had it on sale for $120 a root. Maybe I could chop a piece of mine and sell it for $80. Thats a lot of Begonias
Otherwise life in the garden is about the same. Various pictures follow.
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Year if the wind
Posted on Jan 16, 2024 1:27 PM

They promised us a dry winter but so far its been relatively rainy and windy. We get low pressure systems pass across the north of the Pacific and they drag weather fronts down across the islands. As the fronts approach the winds turn strong and southerly. We get wind advisories, watches and warnings for areas on the down slopes from the mountains and that is us when the wind is from the south. 10 days ago we had a gale blow through, ripped half the plastic roof off the front deck. Purchased 8 new sheets from Home Depot and put those up. Today we have another front coming through, gales again and already a large bough is down from a Paper Bark tree. So chainsaw will be busy again. Lots of small branches and leaf debris along the forest trails need raking up.
Spent the last couple of days taking out 7 large Waiwi trees that fell about 5 years ago. They have been leaning across the Secret Garden all that time and resting on a rain shelter so if I wanted to make use of the garden area they had to go. Just about finished that project and left with a stack of 6 inch thick trunk sections to carry into the forest for path markets.
Checked out a section of fence line and found out I had not been there for some months and parts are rusting out. So I have a 35 foot length of new fence to put up. Instead of replacing the long stretch of rusted fence a friend and I will get our chainsaws going, thin out some forest to make a new garden area (its already got a name sign up "The Dark Forest Garden") and then set the branches along the outside of the fence to make a pig barrier. Got lots of that working well all around the forest.
Camelias, Azeleas, Vireyas are all blooming like crazy. Philodendrons continue to put out new leaves and climb the trees. I have another plant order in the shopping basket on Ecuagenera California website. Its just waiting for me to hit the checkout button. Not had the nerve yet to spent $300 on 8 rare Philodendrons. Its not in my basket yet but there is one called Spiritus Sanctus (I think I got that right). Its the Holy Grail of Philodendrons and cost $100. I have this vision of it dying. Not sure why.
I should really keep my plant buying to the local stores. Muck cheaper but they carry the unusual varieties. Embarrassed to say I have most of the locally stocked plants. Best source locally is Lowes in Kona and luckily thats 100 miles away near Costco. So we only go there about once every three or four months.
I've been gathering Anthurium seeds to try and propagate them. I gathered about 100 seeds, had them nicely set up on a bed of moss in a clam shell, left the lid open one night to give them a bit of air and rats ate them all. End of project. So the next seeds I gather I will spread around the forest on mossy branches and see what happens. Not sure why I'm doing that because there are plenty of Anthurium seedlings under the parent plants anyway.
Cold weather slows down the grass growing so not having to cut grass much at all.
Leaf blower makes it much easier to remove bamboo leaves from the roof and gutters. I will be up on the roof blowing leaves in the next few days. How many people do you see using a leaf blower on the roof.
Will stay out from under the trees today until this gale blows over then its back out there raking up debris and cutting up fallen branches.

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Jungle Room
Posted on Nov 26, 2023 12:20 AM

Winter has finally arrived. High Surf warning up for the North Shore of Oahu yesterday, 40ft waves, sand over the roads. A Kona Low is forecast to form just west of the islands middle of next week bringing heavy rains, potential for thunder and flooding and subsantial snow on the mountain tops. Getting dark by 5.30 pm and sun does not make it light until about 6.30am.

Plants arrived from California last Friday. Box was about 5ft tall by 8 inches square. My friend has 2 plants in the order so she came to my house for the unboxing. Very enjoyable hour. All plants have been potted and hopefully will fulfil my dreams over the next year or so as they climb trees.

My latest project is the creation of a Jungle room at the back of our bird room. There is a shed roof along the back of the house. Its 8 ft wide and about 40ft long. Half is metal roof and half in new clear plastic sheeting giving a greenhouse effect for 20ft. The house wall is solid and the front wall to the outside is plastic lattice. The room is about 7ft tall and has lighting. I've run a new length of hose from a nearby tap.
I purchased 2 10ft lengths of corrugated roofing from our local building supply store for $30 each and used them to make the plant bench. I purchased two 20ft lengths of chainlink fence top rail from our farm supply store and had them cut in two. Those four lengths are suspended from the roof for hanging pots. The entire length of the bench will be covered to a depth of 2 inches with potting soil with a length of bamboo along the edge. The bamboo is a piece that split longways when it was cut down and provided small "pots" along its length as each segment is separated by membrane inside the cane.
Rotting tree trunks and tree fern trunks will be vertical features to grow climbing plants. A shelf close to the plastic roofing where there is plenty of light and sun will house succulents.
So lots of work to do. Concerns to manage - The metal shelf does not drain so have to control the wetness of the soil. Many plants will be in pots so that should be OK. The moist soil should be good for ground cover and ferns. Ventillation is another concern. The lattice wall should assist with ventilation but mold could be an issue. Room has been chicken proofed. Over the years rats and mongoose have been seen the vicinity but should not bother the plants.
So now I wait to see what will grow. Different types of Rex Begonias are doing well in pots, philodendrons should be OK once they get started. Small Alocasias or Colocasias have been planted directly into the bench top soil. Might look for some Ivy and definitely will add some ferns. Its a work in progress but should get filled up quickly. I like instant gratification.
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These photos are a couple of days old. More plants are being added daily.

Did a first this year and entered a couple of photos in the ongoing photo contest.

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Photos for yesterdays blog
Posted on Nov 10, 2023 1:49 PM

Grow pole
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Forest paths

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Anthuriums in the forest

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Business as usual and Aroids
Posted on Nov 10, 2023 12:31 AM

Life is good. Nice steady showers, a few each day to keep the water tank full and the plants growing.
Still pushing wheelbarrows of gravel out to the distant forest paths. One per day is my limit, 14 minute round trip. I'm laying bamboo poles and tree trunks along the path edges where the distant paths have been muddy in rainy times. Then I'm tipping the gravel. I'm cherry picking the muddier areas first and will then fill in the remainder of the paths. Main goal is make it safe to take Max our dog for his twice daily walks even in the rainy times. Some of the paths closer to home are showing signs of returning mud through the gravel so they get new gravel as needed.

AROIDS! My new obsession, well its been going on now for about a year or two. Aroids include Monstera, philodendron and Anthuriums. These have become popular house plants since the start of COVID, but of course they grow great outdoors in our rain forest environment. Local garden shops and big box stores have been filling their shelves with ever increasing numbers of collectible plants. I started by buying starter plants from Etsy but they have taken 3 years to get to an acceptable size. Now you can buy a mature plant at the big box stores for the same price as a starter plant 3 years ago. Anyway as I age I cannot afford to wait for seedlings to mature. Philodendrons are my number one. I now have 45 different varieties, some are climbers, some are crawlers and some are clumpers. I hit maximum level of obsession this week by ordering 6 new plants from the California nursery linked to Ecugenera in Ecuador. Pricey varieties that you can't get locally. Fertilize does no good in the bag, like cash does no good in the bank. Just waiting for them to arrive.

Growing these climbing Philodendrons indoors requires the use of grow poles, usually made of moss or coconut coir stuck or tied to a pole 2,3,or 4 ft tall. We use trees in the forest. However I was so fascinated by these poles I decided to make one myself, just for the challenge. A roll of coconut coir was available on Amazon for $15. 80 inches long and 12 inches wide. I have a home grown bamboo pole 7 ft high and 9 inches around. So I glued the coconut matting to the pole and ended up with a 7ft grow pole (photo to follow as I did not upload it from my phone). I have put a fence post in the ground where the pole is located and zip tied the pole to fence post. Now waiting for the new plants

My stem cuttings from Philodendron Lynette are sprouting new leaves. Here is one of them

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Real cute at this age. 11 more pots progressing nicely. Why do I need 12 more of these when I have 4 mature one already. I guess I do it to have something to do.

Begonia leaf cuttings have rooted. No sign of new plants yet. I will keep the cuttings in the sealed clam shell a few more weeks.

Made three more Begonia stem cuttings yesterday. They are sealed inside a plastic bag.

Must take more pics and vidoes. I'm spending more time walking around enjoying the tropical growth and seeing all of the out of control weeds. Will I ever catch up.

Probably won't waste time trying to propagate anthuriums from leaf or flower cuttings. I'm going to harvest the seeds and sprinkle them along the moss covered branches in the forest. So little effort for great rewards. There are always plenty of self sets under the anthurium clumps anyway.

I feel so lucky when I read all the blogs about preparing for winter and filling your basements with plants that have to survive until spring. But then there is no rest over here as everything grows all the time, just a little bit slower October to March.

When you are raking up leaves consider this 'leaf' that fell onto the lawn the other day. Just one leaf weighs about 40 pounds and just don't be underneath when it falls

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Another orchid bloomed this week

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And here are some of the Philodendrons I have coming in the mail

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And this is White Princess I found at Home Depot

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This is kind of special. I don't know the name but is a minature ginger. Plant about 9 inches tall and bloom the size of a thumb nail. Propagates from seed really easy

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