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  • Nancy Redfeather

September in the Garden

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

The Fall Round-up of Crops Grown at Kawanui Farm in Kona - Summer 2023

We have just passed the Fall Equinox and it's a good time for a brief reflection on this summers garden here at Kawanui Farm in Mauka Kona.

I am also very interested to know how your garden grew this summer - which crops did well, what you thought was tasty, and also what challenges you had.

There is a comment section at the bottom of this Blog and I hope many of you will comment and share with me the 'best things about your summer garden 2023'. I know everyone is interested in what does well where!

Here in Kona, our rainy season is coming to an end. It has rained 43.3 inches since April 1, 2023.

I have lived here at Kawanui for the past 25 years and this is by far the coolest and cloudiest, but not the wettest summer in a quarter of a century! It very much affected the production and the sweetness of our 12 grape varieties. Grapes like hot and dry so this was not their cup of tea. Even so we made juice, raisins, a little wine and froze some.

The Piracicaba Broccoli was one of the summer winners - and still going strong! Over the years, I struggled with Broccoli varieties that just couldn’t handle all this summer rain without getting some disease or other, but this variety doesn’t mind warm and wet and just keeps producing side heads that I can snap off as I walk by.

Another summer gem was Dr. Jim Brewbaker’s Brittle 9 Sweetcorn.

An impressive grower, we planted only one block of about 75 seeds, had great germination, and ate sweet corn for lunch every day for 30 days!

Next summer, I am going to plant smaller blocks of the Brewbaker Brittle 9 Sweet Corn every 2-3 weeks from Spring into early summer (April 1 to the end of July), then we would have corn on the table over a longer period of time. The pollination was just about perfect, the corn loved the sun and all the rain, and there was no disease of any kind. And of course, I saved the best for seed for next year.

Summer is also the time we grow our Black Vigna Beans (Peking Black Southern Pea) for the rest of the year.

This year we grew 4 large trellises, and we’re almost done with drying and shucking. I love black beans, they are so nutritious and delicious - easy to cook, and simple to add to so many different dishes. This summer my favorite was Black Bean Hummus!

If you don’t have a legume you grow regularly in your home garden, give the Peking Black Southern Pea a try. I buy 16 foot “horse panels” at LOWES, cut them in half, each making a good size 8-foot trellis. You can grow the Vignas on the ground but they are so much easier to pick standing up and they dry much better!

This summer I worked on growing out saved seed of a Radicchio variety I’m working on called “Leonardo.” I’m going to let it go to seed one more time and then put it on the Hawai'i Seed Growers Network Marketplace if it continues to perform well. Radicchio is a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients and can be added to lots of different dishes. Plus, you can eat it raw, grilled, steamed, or sauteed.

I also worked on Chinese Pink Celery, which has an amazing flavor and is quite beautiful. I’m growing out my first generation of saved seed now, so we’ll see how it does over time and seasons. It would be a very good celery to have in your home garden that is so versatile in the kitchen. It’s thin - so you can’t stuff it with peanut butter, but there are always trade-offs! This summer we also grew out our giant purple Zinnias and purple Cosmos, and hopefully there will be good seed coming up! I harvested two 2-year old Ashwagandha plants that were pretty big, and dried and shredded the root for tea in the coming years. It turned out really well.

Having your own medicine chest growing in your garden is a good feeling. Ashwagandha is a good adaptogen and all around immune helper.

Something amazing is happening right now. The Red Core Chantanay Carrots are going to seed and so is my Valarian! I have not seen either of those seed in many, many years so I’m kind of excited to watch the process and see how they do in the next generation.

So that’s a little about what is going on around here, summer is such a busy time just keeping up with the weeding, planting, and edging - at least there has been NO watering to do! Now it’s time to think about summer clean-up and fall planting. I think I’ll keep it simple, lettuce, cabbage, green beans, a whole bunch of a new basil I’m trying, and definitely Glenn Teves’ Red Lady Papaya.

I hope you will be inspired to jump down to the comment section and share a little about the exciting growth happening in YOUR summer home garden.

Everyone at the Hawai’i Seed Growers Network appreciates your support that directly helps our 14 growers to build a truly sustainable and resilient local seed source for Hawaii’s home gardeners that incorporates all our knowledge and planting experience of the past 50 years. New varieties show up regularly so check us out at

Aloha and Mahalo,

Nancy Redfeather

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1 Comment

Oct 02, 2023

Nancy, mahalo for sharing your current successes! Always a treat to see what you and Gerry are working on. Congrats on your radicchio!

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