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Creating the most sustainable, cost efficient nursery in Hawai'i  RSS feed

 
ashton coombs
Posts: 7
Location: Hilo, HI
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Aloha,

My boyfriend & I recently purchased 3 acres in Hawai'i & are looking to create the most sustainable, regenerative, cost efficient nursery we possibly can!
Our plan is to start off selling annuals & fast growing perennials while we nurture slower growing perennials.
Because coconuts are so abundant here, we want to use coconut fiber pots instead of standard plastic pots found in most nurseries. The coconut fiber is strong, holds moisture, & does not suppress root growth like plastic pots. However, we are still wondering what type of natural glue/adhesive can keep the pot together while maybe giving the plants a nutrient boost in the meantime? It may be possible to weave the coconut fibers in such a way that they can stay together, but we haven't tried yet. Another option is also to use the coconut shell. We would drill holes in the bottom to release excess water.
Since it rains so much here, we are thinking we will let nature do the watering. 
As for soil, we were thinking of mixing compost with the lava rock gravel on our land.


Since we are pretty new to this & have never worked in a formal nursery setting before, we were wondering if any seasoned nursery aficionados had any ideas/advice for us, or could give us a bigger picture of things that we have not considered yet. lots of love to you folks.

 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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However, we are still wondering what type of natural glue/adhesive can keep the pot together while maybe giving the plants a nutrient boost in the meantime? 

Welcome to permies.

Perhaps something like a wallpaper paste: Flour and water.
Maybe add some sugar or molasses.
Any food starch glue should work as long as it doesn't get over watered.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 979
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Aloha! Welcome to our island.

Since you've just recently arrived, you should be aware that you've arrived during a very wet year. Our rain tends to be cyclic, alternating a couple years of wet then a couple years of dry. You may find that you will need to water your plants during the dry years. I'm over in Ka'u in a location known for rain, but during drought years I go through a lot of irrigation water. Thus I maintain several catchment tanks and can currently store over 24,000 gallons of water. I'm working on doubling that.

This past two years have been so wet that my gardens are suffering. In hindsight I should have made rain protectors for over the crop beds. Since you are on the east side of the island, protecting your plants from excess rain may be an issue. Something to look into. I'm looking at options right now myself.

While I've harvested coconuts for food, I've never worked with the husk fiber. It's rather labor intensive to break it up by hand, so I simply add them in chunks to my pallet grow boxes (sort of like compost bins that I grow veggies in). They are slow to decompose, so they possibly could be used for pots or an ingredient in potting soil. But I have no experience trying to work with it. I've made bowls out of the shells, but haven't tried using them as pots. They should work as long as you don't mind putting all the time and work into them.

Plants sell well here at the farmers markets. Something to look into.
 
ashton coombs
Posts: 7
Location: Hilo, HI
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John Polk wrote:
However, we are still wondering what type of natural glue/adhesive can keep the pot together while maybe giving the plants a nutrient boost in the meantime? 

Welcome to permies.

Perhaps something like a wallpaper paste: Flour and water.
Maybe add some sugar or molasses.
Any food starch glue should work as long as it doesn't get over watered.


Aloha John,

Thank you for the advice! Mold has been a problem with the coconut fibers.    Adding sugars intensifies the problem & attract insects. I was looking into the structure of coconuts, & it is possible to bind the proteins using heat & pressure. Gonna continue to experiment 
 
ashton coombs
Posts: 7
Location: Hilo, HI
bee fungi trees
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Su Ba wrote:Aloha! Welcome to our island.

Since you've just recently arrived, you should be aware that you've arrived during a very wet year. Our rain tends to be cyclic, alternating a couple years of wet then a couple years of dry. You may find that you will need to water your plants during the dry years. I'm over in Ka'u in a location known for rain, but during drought years I go through a lot of irrigation water. Thus I maintain several catchment tanks and can currently store over 24,000 gallons of water. I'm working on doubling that.

This past two years have been so wet that my gardens are suffering. In hindsight I should have made rain protectors for over the crop beds. Since you are on the east side of the island, protecting your plants from excess rain may be an issue. Something to look into. I'm looking at options right now myself.

While I've harvested coconuts for food, I've never worked with the husk fiber. It's rather labor intensive to break it up by hand, so I simply add them in chunks to my pallet grow boxes (sort of like compost bins that I grow veggies in). They are slow to decompose, so they possibly could be used for pots or an ingredient in potting soil. But I have no experience trying to work with it. I've made bowls out of the shells, but haven't tried using them as pots. They should work as long as you don't mind putting all the time and work into them.

Plants sell well here at the farmers markets. Something to look into.


Aloha Su Ba,

Mahalo for the insights & information! We would love to visit your homestead sometime & perhaps trade plants?! 

You are right, it has been incredibly rainy this year. We are having some issues with mold growth on the nursery coconut fibers. Even some of our tree keiki seem to be affected with mold near the base of their trunks. We have had to pull back the mulch & soil to help their roots get more airflow.

It has been super beneficial to see what plants do well here naturally despite the harsh elements. When the nursery is up & running, we have a lot of choices on what plants to raise.
Bananas, citrus, liliko'i, avocado, mucuna, soursop, pineapple, cacao, fig, guava, pigeon pea, & sapote do exceptionally well here. We can't grow melons or other traditional annuals (besides eggplant & tomatoes, which look like they can be perennials here) for the life of us. Perhaps it is because the soil is not rich enough for them. 

If you know of any other fast growing perennials to add to the nursery list, please let me know!
 
Eric Bee
Posts: 107
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Interesting idea about the coconuts. Sounds like work.


Have you considered standard soil blocks? There are many advantages and they are easy. You can buy soil blockers (e.g. Johnny's) and you will likely find this cost-effective, but you can also make them relatively easily if you understand the principles. Then it's just a matter of getting the right soil mix. In your environment I can see this style working very well...
 
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