Festival celebrates Hawaii’s mangoes


We live in a climate that allows us to grow many mango varieties. Most of them ripen during summer. Despite our ever-changing climate, most mangoes have flowered and some are already fruiting. We are looking forward to a bountiful year for mangoes. Since our mangoes are not exported to the mainland, we can enjoy some of the best varieties in abundance right here at home.

This year Randyl Rupar of the Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, inspired by some early varieties, chose to move the date of the annual mango festival to June 29. This is the sixth year the sanctuary has offered this festival along with the West Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers and the Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Starting at noon, celebrants will gather on the bayfront lawn at the resort for a full mango experience. Information on mango varieties and their cultivation will be offered in addition to tastings of the fresh fruit, as well as samplings of mango recipes offered by vendors and recipe contest entrants.

Foodie blogger and cookbook author, Sonia Martinez is responsible for the amateur recipe contest and is encouraging those with established mango recipes or ideas for new ones to enter the contest. Several guidelines can help you enter the winner’s circle in one of the three categories: salads, entrees or desserts. Of course, you need to get your dish entered on time with the recipe attached. Your recipe needs to have the amounts of all the ingredients in a list along with a description of the steps used in the preparation. Judging of the entries will consider several factors, including the best use of the main ingredient (mangoes), the taste and texture of the dish, its appearance and presentation, as well as the creativity or originality exhibited in the recipe. ChoiceMart and Island Naturals are offering gift certificates as prizes for the recipe contest. For more information and entry forms contact Martinez at 963-6860 or visit mangofest.org.

In addition to experiencing a plethora of fresh mangeos and many mango-related items, attendees will be treated to musical and cultural presentations, educational workshops and keiki activities.

Harold Moodie will offer a presentation on grafting mango trees and will have some grafted specimens for sale. Mark Suiso from Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers will have many unique mango varieties available to taste and the annual panel discussion “Keeping the Culture in Agriculture” promises a lively interchange. West Hawaii master gardeners will also be on hand to field plant questions.

The original festival poster art signed by Janis Solerno, as well as matching organic cotton festival T-shirts will be featured among the arts and crafts vendor booths. Bolo, Maka, Poncho Man, Auntie Irma’s Kahikina Nahenehe Ohana and Hands of Fatima Bellydance Troupe are in the lineup of entertainers on the main stage and keiki activities will be happening in various places on the grounds.

The festival is a free community event open to the public. As with other events his organization sponsors, Rupar has set up the event to be waste-free. Zero-waste events make recycling of all waste a high priority. Everything from the food waste to the used service items, including water and beverage containers, are separated on site and recycled or reused in some way.

Tropical Gardening Helpline

Peter asks: We have a lot of bromeliads in our landscape and we were thinking about putting in a lily pond. With all this rain, our bromeliads are always full of water and the mosquitos are breeding like mad. If we put in a pond we are worried that we’ll just be adding more mosquito breeding ground. Is there anything we can do to control mosquitos that is not toxic to bromeliads and plants?

Answer: Mosquitos will breed in any standing water they can find including your bromeliads and a pond. Remedies are available but in this rainy weather vigilance will be required in dealing with the water that gathers in the bromeliads. A drop of any liquid soap in the cup of a bromeliad will change the surface tension of the water so adult mosquitos will not land and lay eggs. Of course, when we get heavy rains, the soap will need to be replaced frequently.

If you decide to put in a pond, you can buy mosquito-eating fish (guppies or others) to eliminate the potential for it becoming a mosquito breeding area. Try Petco, Stockly’s Aquariums or the local Department of Health in Kona to get fish that will eat mosquito eggs and larvae.

Email plant questions to konamg@ctahr.hawaii.edu for answers by certified master gardeners. Some questions maybe chosen for inclusion in this column.

Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant living on an organic farm in Captain Cook.