It was time to give the yearling Ghost Pepper plants a severe pruning. Reducing them by 50% was less painful, when I got the idea to propagate from cuttings. Here are my attempt to do so using the simplest of tools. Reclaimed growers rockwool are used for some, while potting mix is being used in others. Other tools needed are : large sandwich type plastic bags, rubber bands, or string, small containers, trays of water, a sharp knife, pruners, and liquid (or powdered) rooting compound.
I used cutting from my Ghost pepper plants, Aji Limon, and Thai Dragon.
Keep them moist and out of direct sun (these were moved after being photographed)
Short stems with two sets of leaves are best
Avoid using woody stems
Slice stem at an angle to increase rooting surface
Remove all leaves except for growing one at tip
Use bags to keep humidity high
roots should form in 3 weeks
Transplant into soil after 3 weeks
When planting a garden, it is always nice to consider what wants to live in your area, rather than simply what you want to grow. Consider being flexible in your chosen flavors, and expand to include unfamiliar tastes that happen to need very little care in Hawaii. Here in Hawaii with the multitude of micro climates, one often feels fortunate when they discover something that becomes almost “wild” in their garden. Other gardeners actually mope and complain, while ripping those plants out.
Such culinary wonders as mint and Florence (bulb) fennel spring to mind. I know many who can grow these plant, but they do not. They claim that they do not like the taste of them. The point that I often make is simple: learn to like what likes to grow where you are. It makes life oh so much easier, and it brings you into new culinary adventures as well. Letting some of your beans and greens go to seed, and reseed themselves is a great joy, if you let it be. Let your garden be a little less controlled, a little more lush, and give up on trying to dictate what grows where, and when. Be an observer, and celebrate how nature leads the way with gardening lessons just as important as those that we search out in workshops and books.
If you notice that your Giant Red Mustard seems to shine in your garden, leg it over to your nearest library and seek out recipes that call for mustard greens. Mint is expensive in the shops, but loves to tuck in under a drippy eve, or hose. Mint pestos, mint coolers, mint dappled in fresh salads, or asian style noodle soups. Research and celebrate, and I promise your gardening days will shine a little bit brighter..
Mint becomes a lovely ground cover underneath edible radish blooms. This no till garden has many layers of life, just like nature itself. Radish blooms will soon give way to radish seed pods that can also be harvested young and chopped into your dishes to make a meal sparkle.
I will openly admit it, I had no idea how to begin a lemongrass plant until I started composting the kitchen scraps from Redwater Cafe. There in the midst of the “chop and drop” veggie scraps from the labors of many busy chefs sat the small fragile roots of the end cuttings of lemongrass. I had never really thought about it prior, but when I saw the end pieces, I did what any thrifty farm girl would do, and planted them immediately in an area where my chili peppers grew. I nearly forgot about them until, as I was pulling weeds, there were the beautifully formed shoots of lemongrass, waiting for harvest. The luxury of garden plucked lemongrass was completely new to this midwesterner turned Hawaii farmer. There were coconut milk curries awaiting these flavorful stems…I had to get cooking, but first, my forward thinking self cut the roots off and separated them and replanted them all about the garden.
I highly recommend this lovely herb in your tropical garden, and even your higher elevation garden (I am at 2600ft in Hawaii.) It sits quietly and stately anywhere you plant it. Tall and grassy as the name illuminates, it becomes a year round herb that can be grown out of your kitchen trimmings. Trust me, when you are not paying big bucks in the shops, you will find lots of uses for it. The fragrance is divine, and treat it well with enriched compost and it will prosper. For some ideas to get your plantings inspired, see http://www.saveur.com/article/-/Recipes-with-Lemongrass and check out this lemongrass knot tying video too! http://www.saveur.com/article/Video/Video-How-to-Tie-Lemongrass
Growing notes: We do get a variety of rust on the lemongrass leaves here in Hawaii. I recommend harvesting leaves/stems frequently, and if hit with rust covered leaves, just leave it planted, but cut them down to the base, as they will regrow quickly. Make sure to quarantine leaves in a plastic bag so to not spread the rust plant disease. to other plants, farms or gardens.
Protected from the Melon fly with plain brown paper bags, this simple but effective method keeps this exquisite beauty safe.
The Musquee De Provence vines are thriving