microb's blog

Summer has arrived
Posted on Jun 19, 2018 4:35 PM

82f feels like 86f and humid. I know there is heat on the mainland as well so I guess we belong to the same fraternity (whatever that is, I'm british). Clear blue sky looks inviting but sweat prevails. The large back pond #3 is not going to seal itself so the leak continues and without water feeding from the gutters (no rain) water level is down and the water is turning green in the heat. Have to take action this week to save the fish. This morning I cleared and weeded four of the back ponds that will received the fish. That was a job I'd been putting off for some time. Pond 1A just needed weeds trimming around its edge. Its full of water lily pads but really should be dredged as bamboo leaves drop into it. Pond 1B was covered in duck weed but when I cleared the weed I discovered that large lily pads were revealed with clear water beneath. Will look good. The Lap pool pond needed dredging as it is under a bamboo clump. Double the depth when finished. Violets pond was also covered in duck weed. That looks way better now. Some of the bigger rescued Talapia will go into the front larger ponds. Will try and rescue as many swordtail and guppies as I can. Took a scoup of mud off the bottom of the pond yesterday just out of curiosity and the net was loaded with good size tadpoles so probably thousands of those to be rescued.
Next move is to put a couple of hollow tiles in the bottom of the pond to use as a step as the water is currently deeper than my boots, and then start bucketing out the remaining water. Hope to empty the buckets through a net on the side of the pond to catch small fish and then channel the water away into the duck pond. I will poke a hole in the side of the liner just below the water level so some water drains away and as I get the water out I will put a hole in the bottom to assist in draining. As the water gets lower I will be able to see the larger fish and hopefully the water will be shallow enough to walk around and catch them in a big net.
Gutter water has been redirected away from the pond so rainfall will not reverse my efforts. Once the pond is empty I will clean out the sludge and reline it with a double layer of 6mm black plastic. Pond measures approx. 18 feet long, 8 feed wide and 2 1/2 ft deep. So by the time I allow for depth and edge coverage I will need a piece of plastic about 50ft x 15ft. I had to do the same job about 5 years ago on the pond next to this one which is the same size so I know what is in store. Must try and take photos of the project from time to time.
In my spare time I am trimming the two Fern Leaf Bamboos on the bottom 40. They are about 15 ft high and blocking light so it is time to cut them back to about 6ft.
Still working with my neighbor on forest clearing. This afternoon I go to his vacant piece of property to chainsaw down some trees and hopefully later this week he will be back at my place to keep my forest project going.
Gladioli have finally bloomed. Not many this year but will make the dining table look nice for a couple of days. Orchid Cactus continue to provide plenty of blooms.

No need for a gym membership at this pace.

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Life is normal
Posted on Jun 17, 2018 4:12 PM

Weather is drying out and the ground is no longer squishy under foot. Cleaned out 11 ponds on Thursday, trimmed weeds and plants around the edges, tied back branches of Fuchsia that were blocking views of frogs and fish, skimmed off two barrow loads of surface weed. Weedwacked the bottom 40 and picked up the piles of pond trimmings which I tend to ignore until they start to turn the grass underneath yellow.
Yesterday Richard came over and we chainsawed and cleared more magical forest areas in prep for plants. Left the large mature Waiwi, tree ferns and Ohia trees standing. Looks great. Might have another session today to clear up the small debris.
Still have a lot of pond work to do at back. Maybe tomorrow afternoon.
Will be cutting some more Gladioli tomorrow for the dining table.
Large pigs poked at the fence line a couple of days ago but no more signs. I think it was Thursday morning I was walking out to get the paper when I scared them off and listened to them crash off through the forest.
Yesterdays forest clearing resulted in a nice bunch of wood to be used as parrot perches. Just have to retrieve them from the forest and cut them to the right length.
Begonias in hanging pots are starting to look good. Must take some photos.
Also have some Ti and Hibiscus trimmings put aside to poke into the ground as new starts. Trimmed some Azaleas and Camelias and put those trimmings directly into the ground out in Bamboo Shangri-La.
Otherwise everything is growing like crazy, whether in pots or in the ground

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Life is Good
Posted on Jun 13, 2018 2:39 PM

I was reminded recently that I had not posted a blog recently. Was it really a month ago, how time flies.

People get the impression that everyone on The Big Island has been evacuated. News media loves to create drama. Now the eruption has settled down to a mundane 140ft fountain and daily ash explosions at the summit with 5.3 earthquakes there is very little for them to talk about. Visually the event is amazing.
At the day to day real life level it is a disaster for about 1000 folks who have lost their homes or cannot live in perfectly good homes because the roads have been cut off or the fumes are too dangerous. The disaster area is relatively small compared to the size of the Big Island, about 2% of the land area and it is in a remote area. Our Island is divided into Lava Zones, I think it is 1 through 5. We live in Lava Zone 3, the affected area is in Lava Zone 1 which determines it has been designated high risk of eruption. People purchased cheap land, some off the grid, and the county gave out building permits, put in roads, electricity etc. Hey, no big deal. No lava in that area for 400 years. Remember now back in the 1960s lava destroyed the nearby village of Kapoho and in the 1980s lava destroyed a nearby village of Kalapana, all within a few miles of the current eruption. After those two eruptions people still purchased cheap land on beautiful coastal vistas and 60% of the homes now destroyed were vacation rentals.
We are fine, 25 miles from the eruption site. We were contacted by a local animal rescue center that was looking to place four parrots owned by an evacuee. We willing took them in. The lady owner still has a home but it is totally surrounded by lava and inaccessible. She is living with here sister and is really depressed. Does not know what life holds for the future. We could have the birds for 6 months or more. She visits about once a month. We are happy to help. Its makes the situation real to help when we can.
At home in the real world we give rattled from time to time with 5.3 earthquakes which occur when there is an ash explosion at the summit. The tradewinds have been kind and blown ash and fumes away from us until today. We are now in for 5 or 6 days of variable winds which could impact our air quality. Today, at ground level, we are clear but the smoke and fumes from the eruption site are being lifted into the sky and blown over us. The sun shadows have a golden hue to them. A bit eerie.
Back in the garden life is still hectic. Longer, warmer days with plenty of rain makes everything grow.
The bamboo seedlings mentioned in my last blog are now in pots and my fingers are still crossed. A couple have a second shoot growing but bamboo seeds are slow by nature. Over 600 running bamboo shoots have now been kicked down this year..Clumping bamboos are starting to show serious new growth. Now is the best time of the year looking for those new canes to poke out of the ground. The new Giganteus bamboo cane has a base diameter of about 9 inches. It will be a monster.
Amorphophallus bulbs are blooming and making new growth. Scored a couple of new varieties from a friend. Looking forward to those in the coming years.
Amaryllis have finished for the year. Orchid Cactus are blooming well. Just dead headed number 500. I have a few Gladioli which are now blooming and giving us cut flowers on the dining table and the bulbs I got from dad in England have new bloom spikes. Don't know what color yet.
Still skimming weed off the ponds and feeding wheelbarrow loads to the ducks. Lots of frogs breeding and croaking. Waiting for the water lilies to put up some blooms, especially the night blooming red and white varieties.
Frequent chainsaw sessions in the forest to clear space to bring back plants from across the bridge. Pigs finally got the best of me on the other side of the bridge. Too many fence breeches to fix so decided to move plants back to a safe haven but have to clear space within the secure fence line. Frequent night rain and occasional day time showers keeps the ground wet so a little soft under foot. Spent the morning cutting down a large bed of invasive white ginger in the duck pond garden. Would have had less work to do if I had kept it under control.
So my daily routine does not change, cut grass, trim overgrown plants, run the weedwacker or chainsaw, beat myself to death, come in and take a rest and them back out there again.
Of course I help my wife around the house, cleaning windows, decks etc, the usually domestic honey-do list routine but that's enjoyable also.

I do stop to "smell the roses", take a walk around the gardens without tools, spend some time sitting on the back or front deck looking out over the green expanse of tropical growth. But the mind is always seeing something that needs to be done or a new project that would be fun so my 'to do" list is a full letter size page long and sometimes extends into a second page.

Oh and between jobs I am painting and reorganizing my workshop.

We count everyday as a blessing and live it to the fullest. Retirement was always going to be a time of relaxing and enjoying long planned hobbies and thankfully we getting time to live the dream.

Photo of eruption taken off National park website
Cleaning windows and screens
Enjoying a day at the botanical gardens where I volunteer

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There is life after a quake
Posted on May 14, 2018 12:23 AM

I'm sure I won't remember everything I've done in the last week. The mind is a blur with all the volcano activity being thrown at us every day by the news media. They treat it like some hyped drama. sure its serious and we have to be aware and prepared but don't turn us all into nervous wrecks.
We had a couple of nice days last Saturday and Sunday and then three days and nights of continuous light to moderate rain.
Volunteer work at the Botanical Gardens on Thursday was interrupted by showers and it was really humid. Spent most of the time cleaning up the pots of every size scattered under the benches in the greenhouses. Got them neatly stacked away under some orchid benches. Disturbed lots of roaches and coqui frogs. Us volunteers get the grunt work but the place looks better for it. My hard work was rewarded with an 18 pot tray of white begonias and a tray of Mandevilla vines. Very nice.
Last Saturday a friend went to the Zoo plant sale and gave me two bamboo plants that he had purchased. Nice gift.
On Thursday, after my volunteer work, I went up to a friends house and scored 25 vireya cuttings and a nice bromeliad.
Not a bad week for free plants.
On Friday afternoon my neighbor, Richard, came round and helped me chainsaw down some trees to make way for the new bamboos. Yesterday I cleaned up the fallen trees and put three bamboos in the ground.
The Purple Lilikoi plant I purchased last Monday went in the ground and will climb up some lattice that screens a green waste pile in the forest.
Today I cut the driveway grass and raked up bamboo leaves under the back bamboos. Giganteus and Membranaceus (giant bamboos) are putting up new shoots for the season.
Orchid Cactus blooms are plentiful. Almost 300 so far this year.
Discovered a spouted seed pod from the Yellow Jade vine. I saw blooms last year but did not realize it had seeded. Just the one so far. I gently pulled it out from the driveway grass and put it in a pot.
Fuschia cuttings taken a couple of weeks ago have rooted.
Begonias from the botanical gardens are now in hanging baskets and pots. Shared some with neighbor Richard. Still have to put the Mandevilla vines in the ground.
Running bamboo shoots are popping up all over the place. So far I have kicked over more than 400.
Just two more Amaryllis blooms coming along. So that will make 21 for the year. Not bad.
Amorphaphallus bulbs are now making serious growth. Four blooms so far and probably 4 or 5 more to come. Fascinating plants.
I had a bamboo bloom at the beginning of the year and, true to form, it will indeed die. I found some grass like seedlings, about 1 inch high, spouting in a dead bromeliad bloom. It was under the dying bamboo so I'm hoping they are bamboo seedlings, not grass. What the heck, I transferred some to pots and might end up with a pot of grass. Or, just maybe, some bamboo plants. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

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Gardening interrupted
Posted on May 4, 2018 6:32 PM

We are 20 miles from the eruption site and 10 miles from the active volcano that has caused all the problems.

5.3 quake yesterday. 5.6 and 6.9 quakes today. Sulphur fumes are evident but not that strong right now. Does not encourage yardwork.

Had a bamboo cane come down a couple of days ago. Smashed the overflow pipe on our water catchment tank so had to spend time fixing that. When it broke the remaining piece of pipe acted as a syphen and about 3 inches of water poured out washing through our bird room

Just had a 5 ton load of gravel delivered which will be spread around the based of the tank so that any future accidental overflowing does not wash out base of the tank.

Did my volunteer work at the Botanical Gardens yesterday. Actually got out into the gardens and put Tillansias on Hapuu Ferns and tied orchids to trees. It makes a good break from my own yard work and I did score 5 small orchid plants.

OK, back to reality. I'm going out and putting a kerb around our water tank about three feet out from the tank, using 4 inch tree trunks cut into 4 ft lengths and will then fill in with the gravel. Using inch and a half gravel this time so the chickens don't scratch it out.

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