Gardening in Hawaii Is Paradise

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Pearl Maxner has abundant an harvest of squashes in her Hawaii garden.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS’S Garden Essay Contest, titled “Why We Dig Gardening,” prompted many responses — here is one of our favorites!

Blue morning skies, ohia trees bursting with red blooms, afternoon clouds bringing showers and rainbows, a full-moon whale watch from the cliffs of South Point toward the vast Pacific Ocean — what more could one ask of paradise?

For me, the answer is gardening! No matter where my wanderings have taken me on this lovely planet, life is never complete without a food garden. To observe paradise is incomplete. I must dig, plant, tend and harvest to truly touch the soul and life of any land. This is what I love most about growing your own food — the mysterious essence of life itself passing through my hands, entering my thoughts and heart as I watch each miraculous leaf unfold, each flower bloom, each fruit form. How can I put into words the taste of a ripe avocado from our orchard? The pleasure of a bucketful of oranges every morning in May? The brimming buckets of lima and green beans all summer?

My husband started this organic farm in Hawaii. The partnership that has evolved over the last 11 years has sustained me through trials and hard times. Depressed? Go sit with the chickens in the free-range field and watch their antics. (Chickens love to eat bananas and papayas, and nab live mice running from a mower!) Overwhelmed? Spend time with the sheep in the macadamia nut field and adopt their stress-free pace. Grieving? Do some watering in the tropical early morning light.

Tropical farming challenges abound — voracious insects, root rot, unbelievable weeds, unpredictable weather patterns and “regulars” (zucchini, tomatoes) you cannot grow outside a greenhouse. But when all your successes finally grace your family’s table — well now, that is true paradise.

Pearl Maxner
Naalehu, Hawaii

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