Springtime gardening on the Big Island

Spring is the perfect time to get organised with the vegetable garden here on the Big Island. We’ve turned the vegetable and herb gardens into special lockdown projects (no doubt like many of you) and have spent the last couple of weeks prepping the gardens for planting, raising and transplanting seedlings, and protecting our new plantings from outside invaders! (namely slugs…)

(Check back for updates! We’ll be updating this post as the garden grows. Click the links below to see our progress!)

Snap peas

We’ve grown snap peas in the past and they are always a delicious addition to the garden. First we started out by growing the seeds in individual pots, then we transplanted them to the garden beds. Peas were easily the quickest to grow from seed and grew noticeably every couple of days.

Before and after

It had been a while since we’d last grown peas and the garden bed was looking a little sad! It was time remove the weeds, pull out the wire frames and start again from scratch.

Then it was time to transplant. We managed to get four viable pea plants grown from seed. However, we lost two of these a couple of nights after planting due to an attack of slugs… 

Peas trellis 13:5 Horizon Guest House Big Island
Progress update May 13th

Lettuces, arugula, beets and radishes

Lettuces Big Island Gardening

We wanted to make sure we had a good variety in this garden so planted out lettuces, beets, arugula, radishes and spinach.

Lettuces Horizon B&B

Lettuces were slow to come through but finally the baby lettuces appeared!

Lettuce4 Horizon B&B Kona

Radishes quickly flourished from seed and most of what we planted grew. It wasn’t the same for the beets (only two grew from seed, bottom right in the photo) and only a couple of spinach plants came up (top left in the photo).

Progress updates:

Radishes 9:5 Horizon B&B Big Island
Lettuces/Radishes May 9th
Lettuce bed Horizon B&B Big Island 9:5
Lettuces/Radishes May 9th
Radishes 13:5 Horizon B&B Big Island Hawaii
Radishes May 13th
Beets 9:5 Horizon Guest House Big Island
Beets May 13th
Lettuces 22.5 Horizon BnB
Lettuces/Radishes May 22nd
Tomatillos 22.5 Horizon BnB
Tomatillos May 22nd

Herbs

Garden herbs Big Island Horizon

It was trial and error with the herb garden. Initially we planted basil, thyme and cilantro from seed but after 10 days… nothing appeared. We decided the fault was the age of the seeds (pro tip: if the seeds look like they’re ancient then they probably are and they probably won’t work). For our second attempt we decided to plant a mixture of seeds and small plants, just to give ourselves a head start. 

Herbs Horizon HGH

Basil, dill, cilantro, thyme and spearmint plants were planted, as well as seeds of dark basil, thyme, cilantro and sweet basil in the hope that the combination would yield some lasting results. But then disaster struck again! The same night the slugs made their appearance and decimated the transplanted peas they also launched an assault on our thyme and cilantro. We used citric acid to kill the slugs but in the process also terminally damaged the thyme and cilantro…

What is dark basil?

Dark opal basil is a basil variety created at the University of Connecticut in the 1950s. It has dark purple leaves and a stronger flavour than sweet basil.

Herbs 2 HGH Kona

Third time lucky! This time we replaced the damaged thyme and cilantro and used slug bait to form a defensive perimeter! This seems to have stopped the slugs for now.

Herbs Horizon Big Island

Progress updates:

Dark Basil 9:5 seedlings Horizon B&B
Dark Basil May 9th
Cilantro 9:5 Horizon B&B Big Island Hawaii
Cilantro May 9th
Cilantro 13:5 Horion B&B Big Island
Cilantro May 13th
Sweet Basil 22.5 Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Sweet Basil May 22nd

Pineapples

Pineapples B&B Horizon Guest House

We transplanted some smaller pineapple plants from another area of the property to this garden. In order to suppress weeds we had already covered unused beds with a ground cover. By slicing a series of cuts into the cover we were able to plant a row of pineapples and also continue to stop the weeds from returning.

Seedlings

We were also quite successful growing okra, peppers, tomatillo, yellow tomatillo and roma tomato seedlings. We started the seeds off in recycled fruit containers and then moved them to peat pots.

Seedlings Horizon B&B Kona
Step 1
Seedlings2 Horizon B&B Kona
Step 2
Seedlings Horizon B&B
Step 3

Moving the seedlings to peat pots was a delicate operation, especially for the okra and roma seedlings. They had to be carefully moved, and any roots untangled before planting.

Transplanting

And finally the seedlings were planted in the garden. Followed by a good watering and a measure of liquid fertilizer to help them on their way!

Seedlings Horizon Guest House
Transplant 2 Horizon B&b
Roma tomatoes

Progress updates:

Lima Beans 9:5 Horizon B&B Hawaii
Lima Beans May 9th
Lima Beans 22.5 Horizon Guest House
Lima Beans May 22nd
We’ll keep you updated on the garden as it (hopefully) flourishes! Have you found yourself in the vegetable garden more during the lockdown? What have you been planting?

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It’s a lockdown life: dispatches from the Big Island

ATV Horizon Kona Hawaii

It’s early spring and like much of the rest of the world we’re adjusting to life in lockdown. Tourists have all but fled and the residents are hunkering down as we all do our best on the Big Island to flatten the curve. Like the rest of you we’ve been grappling with the new normal here at Horizon, so we decided to turn our blog microscope to life behind the scenes at HGH.

On March 25 everyone in Hawaii was required to stay at home or in their place of residence. The next day the state of Hawaii mandated a quarantine period of 14 days for all visitors to the island. Cancellations came thick and fast. But while we might not have any guests due to the lockdown it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of chores and projects to work on.

Coffee Clem HGH
The day always starts better with coffee!

Then on April 1, all persons traveling between any of the islands in the state of Hawaii became subject to mandatory self-quarantine.

Arrived just in time...

Meanwhile, thousands of miles to the south in New Zealand, Clem’s partner Angus was trying to get to Hawaii having just had his immigrant visa approved. After many flight changes, and frantic packing, Angus caught one of the last flights out of New Zealand before the government announced the country was going into lockdown.

Almost exactly four years after they first met, and after time spent in both countries, Angus arrived in Hawaii as a newly-minted permanent resident. 

Finally! It was time to get on with their lives together. Unfortunately, Angus arrived just before the lockdown was enforced. After careful deliberation it was decided it was sensible to quarantine, just to be on the safe side (luckily he was fine).

Clem & Angus
Angus and Clem, New Zealand, 2019

With contact not allowed (not even a hug!) and social distance mandated at all times, Clem whisked Angus back to Horizon and into 14 day quarantine.

Alone together was the new normal. At least for the following two weeks! But spring was in the air, the weather was good, and it was perfect timing for some landscape gardening. 

Around the house

First up, landscaping and weeding around the guest rooms. Garden maintenance is always done on a regular basis but with more time it was a great opportunity to tackle the bigger jobs.

Datura HGH Big Island Hawaii

Angus works on cutting back the overgrown datura to the level of the rock wall in front of the guest rooms. Hedges between the guest rooms are trimmed and sculpted. 

Datura Big Island Hawaii

After mowing the lawns it’s time to rake up the clippings.

Pro tip: use grass clippings to cover any sections of your lawn that are struggling.

Grass clippings are good for your lawn because they act like a natural fertilizer since they contain water and nutrients (like nitrogen) – all the good things to keep your lawn in a healthy state. Left on the lawn the clippings decompose and release water and nutrients back into the soil.

Pond Life

Pond Horizon Guest House B&B Hawaii HGH

Overgrown weeds cleared, and ferns cut back. The garden around the pond is weeded and the red anthuirums once again emerge, taking pride of place! 

Garden Hawaii Big Island Horizon HGH

Pineapples and lizards

Next, the pineapple grove. A good crop of pineapples has grown well in this part of the garden and with a harvest not to far away it was time to clear the dead branches from the papaya tree and get to pulling weeds.

Joining the gardening team was this little lizard. At first suspicious, it soon appeared to like hanging out with (and on) Clem! 

A visit to the upper pastures...

Sunny Horizon Guest House
Poncho and Sunny

Poncho & Lefty (the donkeys) and Sunny (the horse) were curious onlookers to all of this activity. A midday break for lunch and a visit with the gang was in order.

Next on the agenda, a change of pace – down the driveway to the warehouse.

Cleaning up around the warehouse

Rubbish run Horizon Guest House Hawaii B&B

Everyone accumulates clutter and Horizon is no different. The warehouse, on the lower slopes of the property, was in need of a spring clean and then a run to the refuse station down the highway for a rubbish drop off.

Recycling was also sorted. Cans, bottles and cardboard were put aside for a separate trip to the recycling plant in Kona.

Rubbish cleared. Check. Progress made. Check. Staying hydrated in the heat? Check.

Mowing and more mowing...

Rideon mower Horizon Guest House Hawaii HGH

Staying on top of all the mowing that needs to be done on the property is almost a full-time job. However, it’s made significantly easier by the use of both a ride-on mower and a tractor with a mower attachment – to tackle the rocky pastures that need to be cleared.

Fun fact: Wild Pigs. Normally cute, especially the piglets, wild pigs can cause havoc on the property. Whether rooting about in the garden devastating crops of bananas or pineapples – or anything remotely edible – pigs are tough to keep out (finding ingenious ways to dig under the boundary fences to get in). By keeping the pastures clear of long grass it makes it easier to hunt the pigs and protect the Horizon crops from being plundered.

Tractor closeup Horizon Guest House Hawaii B&B
Clem about to mow on the lower pastures

Whether with guests or without, a day at Horizon wouldn’t be complete without another sunset. Tools down, gloves off, and dinner watching the sun disappear over the Pacific Ocean on the Kona Coast. A pretty good reward for a day’s work keeping Horizon Guest House in shape. Look out for details on our spring planting in the vegetable and herb gardens in the next lockdown dispatch.

Sunset Horizon Guest House Kona Hawaii HGH
How have you been spending the lockdown? In the garden? Spring cleaning the house? Keeping busy with arts and crafts? Baking? Let us know what you’ve been up to in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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