Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lulu's User-Friendly Guide to Pruning Banana Clumps

As a WWOOFer at Hale Akua Garden Farm, I take care of all sorts of plants: taro, Hawaiian ginger, tumeric, bok choy, carrots, beets, okra, etc. One of my more exciting responsibilities is caring for our 30+ banana plants using a very serious machete.

Thus, I give you an overview of what this task entails...

1. Pull all the weeds and extraneous grass away from the base of the clump. This will give you a clean workspace and room to consider the dense structure of the plant at hand. My boss is very exacting, so I’ve gotten used to doing a lot of weeding. Mostly, in this case it just looks nice.

2. Bananas like to keep a close-knit O’hana (Hawaiian for "family"): a daddy, a mommy, a teenager, and a baby (or one mature mommy and one less mature mommy – however PC you’d like to make this scenario, be my guest). Either way, kill the rest of the family with a giant machete. The stalks that are preparing to bear fruit get to stay. In addition to those, keep one slightly smaller one and also one young shoot. Cutting back family members will help ensure that the surviving ones have enough nutrients to bare fruit.

3. Use the bodies from the offed family members to fertilize the remaining family members: cut trunks into thirds and place around the base of the plant. Put the large leaves around as well, and tuck into the free space in between stalks.

4. Be careful not to hit your head on the enormous banana flower as you are moving around the clump.

5. Harvest the bananas (the actual fruits) the moment they begin to turn from green to yellow.

And check out this delicious baked treat from Gourmet that we prepared using our harvested bananas.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Lulu's User-Friendly Guide to: Hitchhiking Maui

On the North Shore of Maui, hitchhiking is a way of life.

Snagging a Ride:

1. Remember the buddy system? It worked in shopping malls and Disneyland, and it works on Hawaii's Hana Highway, too. Having a friend with you may limit your options for rides, but it will help if you get into a sticky situation.

2. Nothing says "pick me up" like a sundress -- even if you're a guy. No, just kidding. But, in the least, try to look presentable.

3. Find a good location. Cars whipping around corners are generally in no position to stop for you. If you can walk to a straightaway, then you will give your approaching car more time to notice your needs and your sundress.

4. To smile or not to smile? That depends on your teeth. If you're missing teeth or sporting some gold, lay low with all of that. Retainers and braces will make you seem like a runaway. If the smile doesn't match the sundress, just keep a neutral expression.


6. Generally, you either get a customer immediately (within five minutes) or never. If you are willing to walk to your destination, you might pause every couple of minutes to try again in a new spot.

7. Try to keep a positive outlook, because it can't hurt. If you look fun and hopeful, you may get more bites than if you are dragging your heels and bumming-out on the side of the road.

Hitchhiker Etiquette:

1. Make sure you know the address or intersection of where you are going to (unless it's a landmark or something generally well-known). Civilian drivers, even if they are knowledgeable locals, are not tour guides; they may not know where the road with a "big guava tree" and "lots of mailboxes" just "a little past Haiku" is.

1. Yes, for the 20-minute drive home, you are a God-fearing (boy/girl). If the topic never comes up, no need to bring it up. If it does, it's better to at least pretend to have some interest in The Almighty (whoever that might be to your driver) if you don't already. I realize this may be a bit of compromise to your integrity, but the ride will be much smoother for it.

2. Avoid political banter, as well. At a dinner party, you can walk away when things get heated between liberal you and your newly conservative friend from high school. In a car, you can't walk away from your driver, but your driver can and certainly will kick you out of his or her car. If your driver brings up something political, listen patiently or perhaps express curiosity rather than an opinion.

3. DON'T hitchhike with really valuable things you wish to hold onto. Need I explain why?

4. DO, perhaps, bring something nice you can give your driver if she, as a favor to you, decides to go beyond her own destination. This gift could be a beer, a piece of choice fruit or chocolate, a friendship bracelet... you get the idea. Fruit is generally a safe bet. BUT, remember that you are under no obligation as a hitchhiker to compensate your driver -- unless he brings it up initially, before you get in, and you agree.

5. Some Maui drivers like to party on the way home from Paia. If they are drinking, wait for the next car. It's up to you whether or not you want to smoke the peace pipe. Drivers probably won't be offended if you don't want to partake.

5. Remember to say "Please" and "Mahalo."