If you are wondering what to do Saturday, you have many choices. Two might be of interest to gardeners since they involve learning about our No. 1 agricultural product and learning uses for plant essences. Though they are very different events, many readers may be interested in both. With careful timing you can fit them both into your day.
Starting the day with a cup of joe is familiar to many of us. Starting with a taste of 100 percent Kona coffee accompanied by delicious desserts surrounded by arts, crafts and live musical accompaniment simply adds to the pleasure. That is what you will find at this year’s Cream of the Crop.
The annual event, sponsored by the Kona Coffee Council, starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa at Keauhou Bay. This year’s event will take place outdoors on the Bayview Grounds and continue until 1:30 p.m. Entry to the festival is free and attendees are encouraged to taste and vote in the competition while taking the opportunity to talk story with area coffee farmers.
The Cream of the Crop is a festival of 100 percent Kona coffee as well as a competition. Chefs and festival goers vote for their favorite coffees and desserts. Last year, hundreds of residents and tourists attended, tasting more than a dozen coffees and desserts.
Awards for coffee growers are given in Chef’s Choice and People’s Choice categories, other honors are awarded for professional and amateur desserts. A list of last year’s winners is posted at kona-coffee-council.com/page-1683102. Though the deadline for competitors has passed, the chance to taste the entries awaits you Saturday.
After an early pass and tasting through the grounds you still have time to get to Tropical Edibles Nursery in Captain Cook for a noon class on using essential oils to clean your home. If you do go to the coffee and dessert tasting first, you’ll be sufficiently jazzed for the information Laura Lease has to offer.
Lease is an essential oils educator with lots of experience using the oils in a variety of ways. Essential oils are the distilled liquid essence of a plant. Most plants and herbs can be distilled into highly aromatic oils. “Cleaning with Essential Oils” is one of a series Lease will be conducting the second Saturday of each month to familiarize you with essential oils and their uses. Each class will focus on a different use for these oils. Learn more about Lease and her work at whereveriaroma.com.
Though lots of home cleaning products can be made using baking soda, vinegar, salt and water, adding essential oils can increase the power of the products. The oils can help to disinfect, purify and even remove stains and mildew without the use of toxic chemicals while adding pleasing fragrances to linger post cleaning.
In Saturday’s class, Lease will discuss oils that are best suited to use in natural cleaning products for your home. Included in this class will be recipes for making floor and bathroom cleaner. Attendees will also do hands-on preparation of cleaning supplies and will be able to take samples home. The fee is $30.
Space is limited; reserve a spot in this class or learn more about future classes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also register or talk to Lease about them by visiting her booth at the South Kona Green Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. any Sunday. All of her essential oils classes will be conducted at Tropical Edibles Nursery at 83-5696 Mamalahoa Hwy., just south of mile marker 108 in Captain Cook. Call the nursery at 328-0420 for directions or more information.
Tropical gardening helpline
Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.
Stephen asks: I was advised that planting buckwheat between my crops could help control weeds on my farm. How does that work?
Answer: Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, is often suggested as a weed suppressant. It works in several ways. First of all it is considered an allelopathic plant which means that it exudes compounds that suppress the growth of other plants.
Buckwheat is a fast growing green manure crop. In ideal conditions it can grow to 5 feet tall. If you plant it thickly, let it grow to flowering, then mow it and let it lay on the soil, it works well as a weed suppressing mulch. While it is growing, the shade it provides as well as the dense fibrous root mass it produces helps to discourage weeds. Once cut the allelopathic effects of buckwheat can last up to 60 days.
The small brown triangular buckwheat seeds should be planted about ½ inch deep and covered with soil or broadcast and then covered with about ½ inch of soil. They will sprout within five days and begin growing quickly. Once you have mowed your first planting, a second planting is advised. You can replant directly into the buckwheat mulch and essentially double the effect.
If you are using buckwheat as a cover crop, you are advised to cut it as soon as it flowers. If you let it go to seed you may simply be propagating another weed.
Learn all about buckwheat in the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources free publication “Buckwheat.” Download it at ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/greenmanurecrops/buckwheat.pdf.
Email plant questions to email@example.com for answers by Certified Master Gardeners.
Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant living on an organic farm in Captain Cook.