This is a milestone for this farm. We are in the middle of planting a little over 100 young trees. To my knowledge, no one else has planted many trees at once here since the time Grandpa stopped overseeing the farm. These trees are about 8-10 months old and will be in full fruit production in two to three years.
About the word “hope” in this post’s title … planting IS a hope. We hope it’s not wasted effort and money. Coffee leaf rust hasn’t even been in this area a year (luckily, still not seen on our farm). What will its long term presence do here?
COVID is a striking reminder how we just don’t know what the future holds for certain. There are risks, but we don’t know the future with certainty. And here and in other parts, other disasters like flash floods, dry lightning strikes in parched areas, hurricanes can happen and are happening. Like I wrote about last week, here in Kona we’re still experiencing pretty much daily rain since May. Yet north of us is dry. Just this weekend, South Kohala had a brush fire that has already scorched over 2000 acres as of mid-day Sunday. The fire temporarily closed Saddle Road, the main highway connecting the west and east sides of our island, the road you take to get to the road to Mauna Kea. Old Saddle Road (not the big highway) was still closed yesterday. To my knowledge, the fire still isn’t contained.
The brown stuff happens. Yet we humans carry on with at least hints of optimism.
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
― Chinese proverb
In January I wrote about some coffee keiki (kids), volunteer seedlings, also called pulapulas (pulled from the ground) that we were going to experiment with. Grandpa would add new trees by using pulapulas which would often sprout up near rock walls, where seeds and water would tend to accumulate.
However, for at least two decades root-knot nematodes have been a serious problem in Kona Typica trees, seriously impacting tree health, viability, and fruit yield. In 2002 the university estimated that 85% of Kona Typica trees were impacted by nematodes. And pulapulas might be one way nematodes are spread. Nowadays, farmers prefer to plant young grafted coffee trees using nematode-resistant root stock.
In the end, we decided not to plant our own pulapulas.
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”
― Hermann Hesse