The Mighty Hawaiian Avocado

Everyone loves avocados. Hawaiian avocados have a delicious, rich, creamy flavor and are packed with healthy oils. The Hawaiian climate makes growing avocados easy and they’ve become one of Hawaii’s favorite exports.

200 avocado varieties

There are over 200 different avocado varieties grown throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Cross-pollination is responsible for the proliferation of the avocado varieties. But it’s the Hawaiian climate that’s the reason for why many believe Hawaiian avocados are some of the best in the world. The microclimates and the fertile soil often produce very large avocados with significantly higher amounts of healthy oils. The avocado season usually runs from September to May of the following year.

The main variety of avocado grown in Hawaii is the Sharwil variety (above). Originally from Australia, the Sharwil has a velvety smooth, creamy texture. This variety is often exported to the mainland. They have a classic pear shape and we grow this variety here at the guest house. It grows very well along the Kona Coast.

Did you know that you can freeze avocados?

All it takes is a little preparation and you’ll be eating avocados all year round. First, cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Smear some lemon juice on the open flesh of each cut half. Wrap each half with plastic cling wrap, careful to make sure it’s entirely sealed. Place the cut halves of the avocado in a freezer bag and seal tight. Freeze and enjoy avocado anytime!

Butter avocados

Perhaps our favorite avocado is the Kahalu’u variety (below), also known as the butter avocado. This variety has a buttery, creamy texture and can grow to twice the size of the average Sharwil variety. The season for the Kahalu’u is from late October to December. We have a Kahalu’u avocado tree here at Horizon. This season we have seen some huge avocados from our tree, many over 1.5 pounds each!

Other popular varieties grown in the islands include the Malama, Yamagata, Greengold, Beshore and of course the popular Hass. The Hass is a smaller avocado with a pleasant flavor but overall contains less oil content than the other Hawaiian varieties. Many of the Hawaiian varieties were named after the families of farmers who discovered the seedlings.

Most avocado trees are not grown from seed but are grafted, a process in which part of an existing mature tree is cut and placed in a rootstock. This process means that there remains consistency in the quality of the fruit with the new trees. The first time yield for an avocado tree is 8 to 12 years, but there is nothing like the creamy, rich texture of the mighty Hawaiian avocados – they are well worth the wait.

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Rambutan on the Big Island

The Rambutan has an unusual, almost alien-like appearance, with its bright red skin and numerous red pliable spines. But this fruit hides a delicious flesh inside and is definitely one to try during your Big Island stay. 

Where did the rambutan come from?

The rambutan is not endemic to Hawaii. The fruit is native to Southeast Asia and is a relative of the lychee, longan and mamoncillo. The name rambutan comes from the Malay-Indonesian word for hair ‘rambut’, due to the fruit being covered in hair-like spines.

The rambutan

The rambutan tree is an evergreen tree that can grow to almost 80 ft. The fruit range in size from 1-2.5 inches in length. The flesh of the fruit is translucent and contains a single seed. The rambutan is eaten raw by simply cutting open and then extracting the flesh inside (you can also pull apart the skin from the middle if you don’t have a knife). The entire fruit can also be cooked and even the seed is edible.

The flesh itself is sweet and fragrant with a floral flavor. The flesh is jelly-like in consistency and is super healthy, containing vitamin C, iron and potassium. It’s often used in desserts, like sorbets and puddings as well as in curries and other savory dishes. Their shelf-life is short and they are often made into jams and jellies.

You will often find rambutan at farmers markets rather than at your local grocery store as the fruit themselves don’t travel well. Like lychee, they are even better when chilled before eating.

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Hawaii’s Amazing Kukui Nut

The little-known state tree of Hawaii is the kukui nut tree. The tree is common throughout the Hawaiian Island chain and features prominently in Hawaiian culture and mythology. Used for medicinal purposes, Hawaii’s amazing kukui nut is also polished and turned into spectacular black leis.

Where did the kukui nut tree come from?

The kukui tree originally arrived in Hawaii along with the first Polynesians. They traveled to Hawaii with the seeds of the tree in their canoes. The kukui nut tree is also known as the candlenut tree because the early settlers used the kukui nut for candles. Canoes were constructed from the wood of the kukui tree. The root of the tree was used in the process of making black paint. The paint was then used to decorate tapa cloth. By 1959 it was designated the official tree of Hawaii.

The Kukui nut

The kukui nut is used for a number of different purposes. The oil extracted from the nut was used to coat fishing nets and to water-proof canoes. The oil was also used for sore muscles, a balm for burns, and a medicine for other skin ailments. The oil was also used as an ingredients in soaps and lotions. The outer shell of the nut was used in the creation of natural dyes for tattoos.

In order to use the nut as a candle the nuts were gathered and placed along the middle part of a coconut palm frond. They were then lit and then burnt one at a time. In this way, ancient Hawaiians were able to use the burning nuts to tell the time since each nut took about 15 minutes to burn.

The nuts can also be turned into a spice. They are first roasted and the inside of the nut is turned into a spice called inamona. It also had another medicinal use – excess consumption of the inside of the nut has a laxative effect!

(The photos below show the kukui nut in stages, from when it’s first picked fresh, then as it ages, as the shell breaks away, and finally the nut itself).

Kukui nut leis

In order to create the famous kukui nut leis, the nuts are collected then sanded, buffed and eventually polished until they produce a dark brown or black color. The leis themselves are often used by hula dancers, or exchanged by couples at marriage ceremonies. Kukui nuts have also been used as prayer tokens. They were thought to capture a person’s spiritual energy. The kukui nut leis were often worn by Kahunas (priests) and the aili’i (royalty).

Hawaii’s amazing kukui nut has a wide variety of uses but there’s nothing like a beautifully polished kukui nut lei! 

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The Kukui Nut Tree: The State Tree of Hawaii

Can you identify the state tree of Hawaii? Hint: it’s not a palm tree. It’s the Kukui Nut Tree. This tree is widespread throughout the Hawaiian Islands and plays an important part in Hawaiian culture and mythology. The Kukui nut has a wide variety of uses including medicinal.

Where did it come from?

When the Polynesians first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands they brought with them the seeds of the Kukui tree, stowed away in their canoes. In 1959 it became the official state tree of Hawaii. 

The many uses of the Kukui nut tree

The Kukui nut

The Kukui nut itself is perhaps the most prized part of the tree. Ancient Hawaiians used the oil derived from the nuts to coat fishing nets, while the outer shells were used in the process of creating natural dyes for tattoos. The oil could also be used as a dressing for treating sore muscles, burns, or other skin complaints. The oil is often an ingredient in soaps, candles, lotions, and even as an oil for surfboards!

Known elsewhere as the Candlenut tree, ancient Hawaiians would burn Kukui nuts in order to use them like candles. Nuts were strung along the middle section of a coconut palm frond, then lit and burnt one at a time. Because each nut burns for approximately 15 minutes, ancient Hawaiians were able to use them to measure time. 

The nuts can also be roasted and the inside of the nut turned into a spice called inamona. This spice is still used in traditional poke recipes. Depending on how the inside of the nut is consumed it can also be used as a laxative(!).

Kukui nuts are also used to create leis by stringing together a collection of nuts. The nuts are sanded, then buffed and polished until either dark brown, black or even white. The leis are often worn by hula dancers, or exchanged by couples during marriage ceremonies. 

lei_kukui
Photo credit: geckofarms.com
The rest of the Kukui Nut Tree

The wood from the Kukui tree was used to make canoes. The wood of the Kukui needs to be waterproofed before it’s ocean-ready and Kukui nut oil is perfect for this purpose. The roots are even used as part of the process to make black paint which was traditionally used to decorate canoes or tapa cloth. 

The Kukui nut tree can grow up to 80 feet in height, often in an oval shape. The leaves themselves have a distinct pattern, often having three or five lobes (projections of the blade of the leaf with the gaps between them).

Can I eat a Kukui nut?

Since the nut has laxative properties, it’s not recommended that you eat a Kukui nut. It functions more as an ingredient in spice, rather than something to be consumed on its own.

Hawaiian mythology

In Hawaiian mythology Kamapua’a was a wild demi-god, half pig and half man, able to change from one to the other. The kukui tree is known as a kinolau – the physical embodiment of Kamapua’a. You’ll find that if you fold a kukui leaf in half along the stem, the leaf appears in the shape of a boar head. 

The Kukui trees are among the first trees you’ll see on arrival at Horizon Guest House. Look out for them as you drive up the first section of the driveway from the gate – they line either side of the driveway.

Kukui Nut Tree Big Island

The Kukui nut tree was not only an important source of wood for canoes but the nut, and its many uses, became an integral part of ancient Hawaiian life.

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Kona’s secret garden: the Makaʻeo Walking Path

Looking for a short hike in Kona? Why not try the Makaʻeo Walking Path. Located within the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area beside the beach, this trail is an easy hike through some colorful Hawaiian flora.

The loop path itself is less than a mile long and part of the trail has been paved. The garden itself is maintained by the local community and features a wide variety of plants – from natives to unique succulents.

Fun fact: Makaʻeo means “point of the piercing eye” and was named after the nearby point.

Makaʻeo Walking Path Kona Hawaii

The Old Airport

The Old Kona Airport was originally built in 1947. By the 1960s it was apparent that a new airport was needed as Boeing 707s and DC-8s were not able to take off on such a short runway. The new Kona International Airport was built at Keahole Point in 1970 and by 1976  the old airport was converted into a state park.

Fun fact: Walk the loop 3 times and you’ll have walked 2 miles!

Old Kona Bay

Directly opposite the garden, across the old airport runway landing strip, is a long sandy beach. There are plenty of picnic tables on the main part of the beach, or you can try the more private beach cove at the far end of the runway.

Local community support

After its conversion, the State in conjunction with the local community worked together to turn the area into multi-use path and garden space. The Kona Farm Bureau began a planting program at the north end of the proposed path, while the Kona Outdoor Circle oversaw the planting of larger trees and a grassed area.

Eventually other local community organizations became involved with the garden, including the Friends for Fitness. Facilities such as an outdoor workout space (including a chin-up bar, balance bars and stretching post) and drinking fountain were added. Members of the Friends have taken responsibility for different sections of the garden. Look out for volunteers working in the garden on Thursday mornings.

It isn’t just the Friends for Fitness who are involved with the garden. Under the Adopt-A-Park Program, members of the community, whether individuals or businesses, can take responsibility for a part of the garden. This community approach to the garden makes room for a wide variety of spaces including a Japanese garden, a Thai pavilion house and a number of sculptures.

Where? Makaʻeo Walking Path – 755560 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona

Take a tour amongst the fragrant plumeria in this unique seaside community botanical garden.

Wild pigs on the Big Island of Hawaii – friend or foe?

Wild Pigs Hawaii Tribune Herald 2020
Wailoa State Recreation Area, Hilo. Photo credit: Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

In the first months of 2020 wild pigs caused significant damage to orchards and crops at Horizon Guest House. The pigs, who live in the surrounding forest of McCandless Ranch, were in the habit of making regular raids on our property. Our gardening efforts, and attempts at protection, were left in disarray as they carved a trail of destruction.

Unfortunately, feral pigs on the Big Island of Hawaii have become a widespread problem. Wild pigs are attracted to a wide variety of food sources. On the Big Island these include crops such as macadamia nuts, bananas, avocados and pineapples. Our banana and pineapple plants were almost all destroyed over a period of months. Significant rooting damage was also done to the garden.

Wild Pig Big Island Hawaii KITV4 Island News
Photo credit: KITV4 Island News

Where did the pigs come from?

It was originally thought that the feral pigs in Hawaii were the direct descendants of those brought to the islands by Captain Cook in 1778. Captain Cook arrived with pigs, chickens and other animals. However, a 2016 study found that most of the feral pigs alive in the islands today are in fact the descendants of those introduced by Polynesians in approximately 1200 AD. [1]

That the origins of the feral pigs are not solely European will be helpful for future discussions about conservation on the islands, as well as their role in Hawaiian cultural heritage.

Wild Pigs Hawaii News Now
Photo credit: Hawaii News Now

Impact on forest ecosystems

Wild pigs also have an impact on the forest ecosystem. A study by the University of Hawai’i found that soil macroinvertebrate communities (organisms that do not have a spine but can be seen with the naked eye, such as snails and insects) remained unaffected by the presence of feral pigs in the environment.[2] However, earthworms and beetles may benefit from association with sites rooted by wild pigs.

Another study found that the absence of feral pigs over time led to increased bacterial diversity in the soil and that there was an overall increase in the ‘ecological resiliency’ of the soil.[3]

WIld Pigs Tribune Herald 2017
Corner of Komohana and Mohouli streets, Hilo. Photo credit: Tim Wright, Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

How to combat feral pigs

Pigs don’t like dogs and will tend to avoid an area if they sense or smell their presence. Culling the invading pigs is also another option, but in the case of Horizon this won’t stop the arrival of more pigs as they breed at such a rapid rate in the adjoining forest. The feral pigs are resourceful and have found creative ways of digging under the boundary fence in order to gain access.

Horizon Guest House Garden
Horizon's new garden fence

Instead we decided on a new approach. We fenced a section of the garden off completely. This area, currently housing the existing vegetable garden, will now also be where we grow the crops most vulnerable to pig invasion. New banana and pineapple plants have been planted and the existing vegetable garden has been expanded. The fence itself has been engineered to be as pig-proof as possible. Additional fence posts have been positioned close together to ensure that the fence is as tight as possible and therefore difficult for even the tiniest of pigs to burrow under.

Feral pigs might appear to be cute and relatively harmless but they continue to cause problems on the Big Island as their numbers in populated rural areas continue to rise. Creative solutions are the best way to try to mitigate their impact on a local level, while perhaps a concerted effort on a state level is needed to combat the issue further.

References

Linderholm A., Spencer D., Battista V., Frantz L., Barnett R., Fleischer R.C., James H.F., Duffy D., Sparks J.P., Clements D.R., Andersson L., Dobney K., Leonard J.A. & Larson G. (2016). [1] A novel MC1R allele for black coat colour reveals the Polynesian ancestry and hybridization patterns of Hawaiian feral pigs. R. Soc. open sci. 3, 160304. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160304

Wehr, N.H., Kinney, K.M., Nguyen, N.H., Giardina, C.P. & Litton, C.M. (2019). [3] Changes in soil bacterial community diversity following the removal of invasive feral pigs from a Hawaiian tropical montane wet forest. Sci Rep 9, 14681. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48922-7

Wehr, N.H., Litton, C.M., Lincoln, N.K. & Hess, Steven C. (2020). [2] Relationships between soil macroinvertebrates and nonnative feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in Hawaiian tropical montane wet forests . Biol Invasions 22, 577–586. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-02117-3

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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.

Before After

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

Before After

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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The Keitt Mango

Last Updated on January 4, 2021 by Angus.
Keitt Mango tree

If there’s one fruit that’s most associated with the tropics, it’s the mango. The Keitt mango is the super-sized variety – a giant serving of delicious, natural sweetness. There are 5 different mango varieties grown at Horizon, and our favorite, by a long shot, is the Keitt.

Mango harvest

Some 40 different varieties are grown on the islands, and of these there are about 10 which produce the bulk of the mango crops. The Keitt is a late harvest variety. It generally ripens from August through October, or even into November. The other mangoes here on the property, and state-wide in general, are usually finished by July or August.

Keitt Mango Sliced Open

The Keitt mango

The Keitt mango is huge, easily weighing in between 2 to 4 pounds each! What’s a little unusual about this variety is that it doesn’t change color to indicate that it’s ripe. In years past, we would wait for the expected color change before picking – the Keitt’s green skin will stay green, even if it’s ripe – and then unfortunately the fruit would fall to the ground, turning to mush from the bruising.

Keitt Mango Big Island Hawaii

Ensure the mango is ripe by pressing gently on the skin – it should give slightly. The mango may need to sit for a few more days after picking to ensure it has ripened enough. Don’t store mangos in the refrigerator as they don’t like the cold. The best way to prepare a mango is to slice around the seed, cutting the flesh in a cross-hatch pattern.

Keitt Mangos fruit bowl Big Island Hawaii
Keitt mangos, bananas, lemons, limes, avocados and rambutan (red & spiky)

History of the Keitt

The Keitt mango originated from a seedling of the Mulgoba cultivar and was named for Mrs J.N. Keitt who planted the first seed in Florida in 1939. By the mid-1940s it was being grown commercially, the variety praised for it’s ease of growing, flavor, and low fiber. This variety is also found throughout Central and South America as well as Hawaii.

Mango bread with cranberries

Keitt mango trees grow to a medium size, allowing them to bear the heavy fruit they produce. The flesh itself is sweet, with low amounts of fiber, a thin seed, and the skin is mostly green with a purple or red tinge. This variety is anthracnose resistant, meaning it is resistant to a fungal disease causing dark lesions. The fruit also has a long shelf life.

The versatile mango

Just like a peach, the versatile mango can be used to flavor pies, jam, chutney, ice cream, sorbets, relishes, preserves, juices as well as being used in a wide array of baked goods. Of course, just like a really good peach, nothing beats the fresh fruit, especially when it’s chilled. A fresh mango topped cheese cake, or served alone with spoonful of vanilla ice cream… yum! Here in Hawaii, mango bread is widely popular as a fruit substitute for banana. When mangos are in season we often make mango flavored bread (with cranberries, pictured above) and mango muffins – a great addition to the breakfast menu.

Mango muffins

Mango wood

Mango wood has become a popular wood both for furniture and also art objects. Mango trees reach maturity for harvesting at between seven to fifteen years. The wood itself does not require intensive processing and drying. Another reason for its popularity is that it has a very similar look to teak.

Fun fact! Mango wood is sustainable. The wood is already a by-product of the industrial mango fruit industry and the trees are quick to mature compared to other trees. Once the trees have finished fruiting they are harvested for their wood and then replaced with the next crop of mangos.

Mango wood

Besides being an attractive tree, it produces a beautiful and useful wood. Local craftsman use mango (when they can get it) to produce wooden art work and beautiful bowls and boxes (as pictured). Mango doesn’t have the cache of koa, but because there is so little available, it ranks up there as far as desirability among the wood workers.

Mango wood boxes

If you’re in Hawaii during mango season, make sure you gorge on the tangy goodness of one the islands’ most delicious fruits.

Used mangos in your cooking? Tell us about your mango-flavored creation in the comments below.

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Wild Birds of Horizon: Part I

Kalij pheasant Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Kalij pheasants

It’s not just domesticated animals you’ll see at Horizon Guest House. We have abundant wild bird life here on the property and in this post, part I of II, we’ll feature some of our favorites.

Kalij pheasant

The kalij pheasant was first introduced to Hawaii in 1962. The males are black with grey and the females are light brown. The males have a distinctive red colouring around the eyes with a plume of feathers on their heads.

They grow to be between two to three feet in size. Originally from the Himalaya region in Nepal, it was the owners of Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch who first brought the kalij pheasants to the Big Island. You’re most likely to see these birds in forested upland areas, which is why we often see them here at Horizon due to the altitude – we’re at 1,100 feet.

Did you know? Despite it’s size the kalij is sometimes targeted as prey by the io, the Hawaiian hawk!

Cardinal Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
A friendly Red Cardinal

Red Cardinal

This colorful bird is fairly common on the Big Island. Also known as the northern cardinal, or redbird, it was introduced to Hawaii in 1929.

Cardinals are common in pairs and you’ll often see them in the garden at Horizon. The male is easily identified by his bright red color. The females are brown in color. When you hear birdsong first thing in the morning at Horizon it’s likely to be the cardinal as they are among the first birds to sing at dawn.

Zebra Finch Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Common waxbill on the lanai

Zebra finch

The zebra finch is a common bird on the property and it might take you a moment to see them. The zebra finch is very small. So-called because of its zebra-like stripes on its neck and chest, and also because of the coloring of its black and white tail.

There can be great variation in the coloring of zebra finches. Generally the male is gray with a black shading around its eye and patches of red on its cheeks as well as a red beak. The female’s beak is more of a pale orange.

Turkey Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Turkeys in the garden

Turkey

You’ll often see turkeys at Horizon moving in herds. Turkeys were released on the Big Island at the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch in the early 1960s when some wild Rio Grande turkeys were introduced.

Turkeys like the higher elevations and their population has grown significantly since their introduction. Their numbers are estimated at more than 15,000.

Did you know? Turkeys are found on all islands but are more common on the Big Island, Molokai and Lanai than the other islands.

Saffron Finch Horizon Guest House
Bird in the hand!

Saffron finch

One of our favorites, the saffron finch is commonly found on the Big Island but especially on the Kona Coast. Often seen in large flocks, you’ll find saffron finches congregating around the pond at the entrance to the B&B.

The species of saffron finch on the Big Island are originally from Columbia/Venezuela and were introduced to the Big Island around the same time as the turkeys to the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch.

Did you know? A group of finches has many collective nouns, these include a ‘charm’, a ‘company’ and a ‘trembling’ of finches!

Look out for part II of our feature on the wild birds of Horizon in the future!

Come see our amazing birdlife! Click the button below to book now.

Author: Angus Meek