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Joe Kern

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since Oct 19, 2017
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Kapoho, Hawaii, 500' elev.
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Recent posts by Joe Kern

Chayote is grown widely in Hawai’i, it is even found growing wild. It must have been brought by the Portuguese, because the Hawai’i name is pipinola, which when I looked it up I found out is a translation of the Portuguese pepiniero, their name for chayote.
It is mostly used in soups here because it takes on whatever flavors are in the soup. Also the vine tendrils are stir fried. I’m just learning about the tubers and I think they have a lot of possibilities, most people don’t know about them. I bet the wild ones get huge tubers when they’ve been growing for years.
1 year ago
I have breadfruit grown from seeds, and some trees I can get seed from here in Hawaiʻi. It remains to be seen what the fruit will look like as they are still in pots and young. Some people say a lot of them will revert to breadnut (the probable ancestor) or partway in between. But breadnut is very useful, too! I should have said part of my planned experiment was to use breadnut as  a rootstock for breadfruit, because of its taproot.

Seeds are a great find in breadfruit, it could be a great new variety. I believe that one response to climate change should be to continue the work of the ancestors, of breeding new varieties when we need them.
2 years ago
Aloha Juan, the answer is It Depends...It depends on what classification system you use. Mr. Gon, a respected scientist and land manager around these parts, is using the Holdridge Life Zone system, which in my experience is the general preference among ecologists. The Holdridge system takes into account climate, geography, altitude, and plant and animal communities, in other words, is an ecological classification as opposed to a climate classification. According to the attached photo, Hawaiʻi island alone has 25 of 35 possible Life Zones. The photo attached to Joseph Lofthouseʻs reply to this thread was of the Island of Maui, which is very diverse, but not as diverse as the Big Island (Hawaiʻi Island), and adding in the rest of the State, adds 2 more Life Zones, making Sam correct in his statement of 27 Life Zones.

We do have lots of Tropical areas, if you are using temperature, just look at the average temperatures for the city of Hilo, HI. We do indeed have alpine ares at the summits of our high mountains. There is also permafrost up there, giving us tundra. We do lack glaciers (but didnʻt during the last Ice age), but have just about everything else

If you use just climate zones, we have, arguably, 8/13 of climate zones. It is rather difficult to catch any of the continental climates when you are 4,000 miles from the nearest continent.

While I know Hawaiʻi is right up there in Life zone diversity, I wonʻt weigh in on whether that is "the the world" as I have not been everywhere so I donʻt know. That kind of thing gets thrown around a lot, even here in Hawaiʻi, and is usually wrong or unprovable. Who can check everywhere in the world? I think we should settle on the world is extremely diverse, and everywhere is beauty and diversity.
Aloha Lew, I remember seeing online somewhere-probably YouTube-Bill Mollison speaking in a PDC about putting limestone chips or oyster shells in a water catchment tank. He also said that there was a much higher occurence of (I think) heart disease or maybe some other nasty thing, in people that drink acid rainwater, I presumed the study was done in Australia, where there are a lot of drinking water catchment tanks. It was just one of the facts put into a long ramble by Bill, I did not check up on the facts later,  but I bet you could find a report or study somewhere online. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it, so I was going to do it once I get my catchment set up for drinking water. It is definitely not something I've ever heard about in Hawai'i, even though there are lots of water catchments and lots of acid rain, in some places. Then again, recommendations here are to bleach the crap out of your water, and only drink what they give you, which is also bleached, or buy your drinking water.

I think it might also be mentioned and/or illustrated in the designer's manual or Permaculture 1 or 2, I think he also talks about dangerous interactions between rainwater, copper pipes, and copper tea kettles. But this is just from memory, I have not checked back on any of it.

From what I have read, a concrete tank would have a similar effect on catchment water pH.

It struck me as a good excuse to eat oysters, also that any other shell or coral chunks would also work. Perhaps this could be another use for Giant African Snail shells?
2 years ago
Leaving them in the ground works here. I think if you are in a climate where they cannot stay outside all winter, growing in pots so they can be brought inside and kept moist should be fine. Also, like Su said, the roots develop much better if the plant goes through its natural cycle of dormancy, so the nutrients and energy from the leaves can get stored in the root. You donʻt get that if the top is abruptly killed off by cold weather. Sometimes when left in the ground or pots, at least for me, it does take a long time for some roots to break dormancy,so that is normal. Sometimes individual plants will skip a growing season, but come back the next year. I think it helps to let them do that, especially if you are using it medicinally. I was told to let the plants go through 3 cycles of growth and dormancy before harvest for the most potent medicine.
2 years ago
Aloha Saravanan, I agree with S Benji, all of the breadfruit and relatives will do fine without a taproot. If you donʻt want to graft, then the stem-cutting should be fine, they are grown that way all the time and produce fruit just fine.

One thing I am planning to try though is growing breadfruit and jackfruit from seedlings and letting some of them just become what they will as far as fruit and growth type, and see what we get. Some of the rest will be grafted to varieties to see if having the taproot can increase health, production, drought-resistance, and nutrient uptake from deeper in the ground, since they should develop the taproot. Much like what people are doing in temperate areas with fruit trees, I think the trees grown from seeds will have an advantage in a changing climate. It is just not done often because it is a lot easier to propagate them from cuttings. One thought is that since these species have been propagated asexually for so long, we need new varieties because the climate and conditions in the world are changing so much.
2 years ago
Here in the tropics, kukui (Aleurites moluccana) is a possibility, both as a oil to burn and a substitute for linseed oil in wood finishing. It is already found all over the Pacific, the Polynesians brought it with them everywhere for the oil (kukui means "light" in Hawaiʻian, among other things), and useful in so many ways. The volume of kukui nuts produced here that go unused, just from the wild trees, is staggering. I found out that kukui oil was looked into as an industrial oil when World War 1 made shipments of oil scarce here in Hawaiʻi. This link: Hawaii CTAHR Publication Listing takes you to a really useful page of publications, the article is "The extraction and use of kukui oil". It talks about small-scale extraction for home use, that might have uses for oil extraction from other plants. The old articles seem to have the most use for homestead-scale production, compared to the more recent stuff.
2 years ago
Aloha, good suggestions from everyone. One thing to consider, though is that these grasses may not be temperate-level aggressive, but tropical-level aggressive, meaning can eat you or your house and car, or at least smother your trees in a few days. It is really a different situation if you do not have experience with the crazy tropical grasses, planting trees or even just working with the land can be near impossible with certain species. Perhaps Windy can provide the species so we can get a better idea of what they are dealing with, and location information, too. The really aggressive tropical grasses can form monocultures that can resist grazing, tillage, even moving through them to an unbelievable degree. They are not like temperate grasslands that, if left alone, will become forests relatively quickly, but can maintain themselves as grassland for (in human terms)nearly forever. This was talked about a bit in the early Permaculture texts, probably because in parts of Australia the early designers were dealing with some of the really difficult grasses. This is one reason why temperate-style ranching has been so devastating for tropical forests, because when forest is cleared for pasture, if it is later abandoned, it does not quickly and easily revert back to woodland, but requires active intervention to get out of the grass cycle. Extremely overgrazed areas are actually easier to deal with in some ways, because the aggressive grasses are usually gone by then. There is a difference between knee or waist high tropical grass and the 15ʻ+ tall grass monoculture with 1-2" thick stems, saw-bladed leaves and itchy hairs that we very often deal with in Hawaiʻi. I am only bringing this up to say that it may not be as simple as planting trees and watching them grow, because I deal with the opposite all the time. The grasses we deal with almost always need to be cleared mechanically first, whether with hand tools up to large equipment. Not that I would recommend them, but herbicides are generally not effective unless sprayed from the air, or along the edges over a long period of time, just because no one can walk through them to spray.

One thing I have learned is that if you do any kind of clearing, you must have a plan to occupy all of the cleared space with desirable plants immediately, and maintain your cleared area somehow until they get established, or you will lose your cleared ground and your plants very quickly.

Many of the grasses are rhizomatous, and can propagate themselves from small pieces of stem, so it is not just above ground but below that you need to consider. A big tractor with a flail mower is a great tool to cut lanes in the grass, many people opt for a bull dozer here too, and it is not a bad idea with some grasses. If you can clear wide lanes that you can mow or maintain somehow, you can start a nucleus of desirable vegetation that can cope with the grass, but I would not say that it is something you can plant and walk away from. Any kind of tillage is usually impossible with the grasses I deal with regularly, because they sprout from the stems and are usually too big, tough and woody for anything I know to deal with. After the grass is mulched (2-3 passes with a flail mower) and broken down, some tillage is possible, but that has its own problems in the tropics, usually resulting in lost fertility. By the time the grass breaks down enough to till in, the rest has usually grown back too tall to deal with anyway. I find it works to figure out your guild or companions that will go with each tree and plant everything at once. Perrenial peanut is a good low cover for right around a tree, and pigeon pea and crotalaria species further out. Comfrey grows in the tropics, and it and vetiver can work for a barrier to rhizomes if planted thickly. Plant everything extra thick and cut any extra down later for mulch if it is in the way of your desired tree. If you can fill a 10ʻ circle around your tree with good plants and keep the aggressive grasses out, your trees have a fighting shot at surviving. We also use the kukui tree Aleurites moluccana to take up space when needed. If that is available where you are, it grows fast, provides useful products and lots of mulch, breaks down fast and is easy to cut down and replace with more desirable trees, although it is also desirable in its own right.

Cattle can deal with some of the worst grasses, and goats can eat the stems, but with really tall, thick grass, intensive grazing is difficult. Equipment can make lanes in the grass for access and fencing, to make it easier, but this would not be a quick way to establish a forest. Most people seem to opt for extensive grazing over a very long time, after which the fertility is largely gone anyway and the land will be overgrazed, plus in that kind of management cattle and goats would surely find any trees and eat them too.

I have attached a couple pictures of what I deal with that may give some idea of what grass in the tropics can look like, they are not the most illustrative, but are what I have available right now.

You have your work cut out for you if you opt for a parcel of that size, even a few acres of the really aggressive grasses can be hard work to establish trees in!

I think this lengthy reply may help some that do not have as much experience with tropical landscapes understand how it is different from temperate, and how much more challenging it can be. The title of the post is worth a book or two in and of itself, as well as a lifetime of work for many of us. I think it is worth a lot of discussion, not just for the original poster, but for the entire world at large, based on the impact it could have on the worlds ecosystem.
2 years ago
Trying to see if I can learn how to attach pictures, and I am posting some pictures of our property, it is the trees above the green line in the one picture. The pictures are from June and July, the flow has since stopped, (for now) and hardened over and cooled-but not so much inside the flow yet! So we have so far avoided inundation, but just barely.
2 years ago
If you can find a pipe or tube (I have used cardboard tube) that the big ones can fit in, they will go in there during the day. Ducks have always done a great job for us on the small ones, and some will eat a cracked-open large one. Muscovies might be better on the big ones. The large ones are fairly easy to hand-pick or trap. Pigs can be trained to eat the big ones if you crack them first. I am sure some pigs can learn to do the cracking for themselves. You can also make a "snail jail" that they canʻt get out of, and throw them in there along with plenty of weeds to feed them. Harvest when they get to size, and either eat them yourself, or crack them and feed to livestock. I always wanted to try that for fish food, but never have.
2 years ago