What are the tricks to manage vigorously growing edibles?

Master Gardener class has been more enjoyable than I expected, and I expected to get a lot out of it. After two three-hour in-person classes and one three-hour Zoom presentation, we have been fire-hosed with information. We had a Hawai’i Natives A-Z in half of an in-person class, and then Tropical Plants A-Z on Zoom. I don’t even mind, strangely. Bring it on!

The last in-class session had some little trivia tidbits about Hawai’i (the state) that grabbed my attention. I’m sharing a couple without citing the references, but please trust they’re legitimate since this program is run by University of Hawaii at Manoa, and there were citations in our handouts. I don’t want to bog down this post.

So, an endemic species is found nowhere else in the world.

89% of Hawaii’s flora is endemic.

And another factoid, which comes from 2015, so the numbers have probably changed:

Hawai’i has the highest number of listed threatened and endangered species in the nation. There are 479 threatened and endangered species in the state (54 animals and 425 plants). Of the plants, 416 are endangered and nine are threatened.

Approximately 45% of all endangered and threatened plants in the U.S. are found in the Hawaiian islands.

Hawai’i is special.

With all this attention on plants and the last bonus topic being on Edible Landscaping, our courtyard was just screaming for attention. Unfortunately, so many plants have to take refuge from pigs here. This photo is just of ornamentals, not the edibles, but it exemplifies how overgrown and unkempt the space has gotten. It doesn’t take long here. The red button ginger was getting so tall and leaning all over the others, fighting for its space.

Last year I had some purple sweet potatoes, which I love, in a paper bag in the pantry, and I had forgotten about them for a while. Then they had roots, so I delayed eating them even further. Finally, the roots were so established, I decided to plant them instead of eating them. Boy, were they happy to be planted. They took off!

One Thanksgiving in Southern California, Bea harvested her purple sweet potatoes. They were huge!! We tried a bit of it, and it was not as bad as you’d think, but they were a bit woodier and starchier than a normal sized one. My brother took it home intent on eating the whole thing, but even he, with his stubborn determination, just couldn’t do it.

Did you know you can eat the potato greens? They’re good. I’ve used them in soups, curries, or boiled, served with a miso sauce on them. They have a little bit of a savory flavor to them. This is another way to help you eat green and purple in the rainbow. One negative is that they’re a little milky at the stem when you cut them. Bea says to cut about five leaves at the end of the vine, the younger, more tender leaves.

I knew the potatoes would take over, so I had put them in pots, thinking that would help limit them. It didn’t take long at all, and the greens were all over. I’m hoping the potato greens will shade out other weeds. It buried my pot of edible ginger, another vigorous grower, thus planted in a pot. I got distracted a bit as I dug out the ginger roots, and then I replanted some little nubs to continue the ginger growth cycle.

And to add to my vigorously growing edibles, my aunty dropped off some chayote starters. She says I can’t kill it. Hmmmm. My brain is on cautious alert. One has to be very careful about what one introduces into the garden. I like chayote squash, but I don’t love chayote. I do feel like some chayote on the farm would be useful, though. Apparently, you have to keep an eye on the fruit so you don’t accidentally grow huge amounts of chayote. She suggested we plant it on a dead tree or somewhere where it can climb, so you can more easily distinguish the fruit from its leaves. For now, it’s still sitting in the box while we figure out where to put it.

I learned about a flower sale at Old Airport on Saturday morning. I bought some cut obake anthuriums. I love their shapes and colorings. In Japanese, the word obake means “a thing that changes” and it can also be translated as “ghost.” Rather than being just one color, usually red, the flower has color changes. I bought two little obake plants, as well. I already have a few obake anthuriums growing in the courtyard, but I thought I should get a few when the specialists were selling them, so I’ll know what varieties I’m growing. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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