In Hawaii, crops can die for many reasons


I don’t know about you, but it seems that I’m making at least two plantings for every crop I want. This is part of the price of living in Paradise. Here’s what may be going on when you discover that yesterday’s transplants are gone or newly planted seeds never come up.

l The number one culprit is slugs and snails; search at night for their activity.

l Another possible offender is the Chinese rose beetle (especially on beans); also search for this critter at dusk.

l Birds eat seeds particularly corn seeds.

l Various worms (butterfly and moth larvae) hiding in the ground or under organic matter, come out at night to feed.

l Seeds can be attacked by fungi residing in the ground.

l And lastly, chickens foraging on the property will either dig up newly planted seedlings or bury them.

For in depth information on controlling slugs and the Chinese rose beetle go to www.gardenguyhawaii.com and search slugs and search Chinese rose beetle.

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I have a couple of questions about moss in the Puna area. I have different types of moss that have invaded my property. One is a black moss that covers the gravel in my rock garden. Another is a green moss that looks like a smooth tight carpet. A third is a greenish-yellow moss resembling a shag rug. I’m trying to hand clean the latter and wondering if this and many of the weeds in my garden is good compost material. Also after clearing the area, is there a good chemical spray that can be used to prevent the moss from coming back? Thank You.

In the tropics, driveways and pathways around homes are often plagued with unsightly and slippery moss and algae. When the rain stops, the green growth will dry up but will regenerate again with the next rain. This growth is organic and can be added to a compost pile.

Weeds are a different story. As long as the weed does not have a seed head attached, only green leafy material, it can be composted. Once the weed has bloomed and formed seeds, do not place in the compost. A well maintained compost pile will generate enough heat to kill most weed seeds but not all. Since many backyard compost heaps do not reach adequate temperatures, adding weeds and their seeds to them, can be risky.

Regarding materials to prevent the growth of moss, I know of no products to be applied to the driveway or pathways that will prevent moss from coming back; it’s a matter of moisture.

For those who are wondering what can be done to treat moss and algae, there are several different products on the market for this purpose. In most, the active ingredient will be bleach, copper, and/or soap. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. These products are usually sprayed on, left for a while, and then washed off with a hose — sometimes with the help of a shovel-scrapper. Often times the buildup is so great that a power washer is needed. An application of Roundup herbicide will kill the algae and moss, but the plant residue needs to be scrapped. Check my website for further instructions, search ‘moss/algae’ at www.gardenguyhawaii.com

Vegetable

Gardening Class

Mark your calendar for April 28. I will offer a gardening class: “Vegetables in the Home Garden.” The class is from 9:30 a.m.-noon at University of Hawaii at Hilo, Room UCB 114. Call 974-7664 or go online to register at http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/ccecs/registration/. Cost is $20.

Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. Email your questions to Sakovich at askthegardenguy@earthlink.net.