Sunday | May 28, 2017
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Expanding the ‘localvore’ diet

Those in West Hawaii committed to buying and eating local products could be called “Konavores.” Many of us, who are also carnivores, may not be including meat in our “buy local” program. Though Hawaii Island has a long tradition of cattle ranching, lots of our beef cattle were formerly being sent to the mainland for finishing and sale. Today many ranchers, large and small, are raising livestock, processing it and selling it locally. The numbers of small farmers with a variety of forage-fed meats is increasing every year, expanding our choices for our locally grown menus. You can now be both: carnivore and Konavore.

An annual event featuring local meat and other locally grown products is coming up. Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Over time, the offerings at this annual event have greatly expanded from the initial showcase for locally grown beef. It is now an event celebrating farmers, ranchers and chefs with unique products and recipes to share with attendees. Those in attendance will enjoy a variety of tasty treats combining local forage-fed meats with many other local products including fruit, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms and honey. Twenty-two different cuts of grass-fed beef, from tongue to tail, will be offered to the chefs. Meat from mutton, lamb, goat, pork and boar will also be used to create recipes for tasters.

Thirty-six chefs will set up booths inside the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom and on its Lagoon Lanai. They will each get 100 pounds of meat to incorporate into an original recipe to serve to those who attend the event. In addition to the chefs, farmers and producers of other locally grown products will also have booths showcasing their products.

This event offers a unique opportunity to explore the products that are available as well as learn how they are grown and processed while tasting the variety of ways they can be prepared. It is also an opportunity to learn where to buy local products and which restaurants feature recipes with locally grown ingredients.

More information and tickets for the event are available at tasteofthehawaiianrange.com. Tickets sell for $40 online and $60 at the door.

Many who are serious about supporting local agriculture while providing healthy, fresh food for their families are doing so by cutting the middle man out of the deal. Buying directly from farmers at local farmers markets is a good way to access a variety of local products. This is a clear service to the buyer, as well as the seller. Buying direct means more of our food dollars go directly to farmers and the food we buy is fresher. Knowing the farmer also allows us to understand the practices used to produce our food.

Though you can usually count on finding locally grown greens and veggies as well as tropical fruit, herbs, preserves and baked goods at one of our farmer-direct markets, finding local fish and meat has been more difficult. At the Saturday market at the Keauhou shopping center, you’ll regularly find fresh ahi and ono, as well as grass-fed local beef and veal, and more recently, local lamb. As small farmers start diversifying their crops and products, we all gain.

Many area stores also sell Hawaii-grown or produced products. Looking for the “locally grown” labels means the product has not travelled far. Buying local saves the environment from the pollution created in transporting goods to us over long distances while saving the fossil fuel required for such a long haul.

All this adds up to a win-win for all.

Of course, you can always choose to become a local grower. If you have any yard space or even a lanai, you can grow some of your own herbs and vegetables. With a little more space you can plant fruit trees and, if you have room, you can purchase chickens to provide eggs and eventually meat, as well. Carnivores with room to raise animals may find raising them for their milk, as well as their meat, can provide a healthy protein source, as well as an interesting lifestyle.

Tropical gardening helpline

Mary Beth asks: My vegetable garden seems to be infested with root knot nematode. My radishes and carrots are particularly misshapen and other plants are failing before fruiting. What can I do?

Answer: The radish photo you sent does appear to have root knot nematode damage. If you inspect the roots of other plants in your garden and they have hard nodules on them, you do probably have a root knot nematode infestation. Sometimes nodules on the roots of nitrogen-fixing plants in the bean family can look similar but if the knots are on your tomato or pepper roots, nematodes are probably the culprit.

Nematodes are microscopic, eel-like roundworms. The most damaging of them is the root knot nematode, Meloidogyne species. These nematodes attack a wide-range of plants, including vegetables, fruit trees and ornamentals. They are difficult to control, and they can spread easily when the soil on tools and boots or on infested plants is moved from garden to garden.

The distinctive “knots” on the roots of affected plants are called galls. Nematodes feed and develop inside these galls, which can be as large as an inch in diameter but are usually smaller. Their presence impairs water and nutrient conduction in the plant’s roots.

Though nematodes may be difficult to get rid of entirely, several cultural practices can reduce their numbers and keep your plants healthy enough to resist their attack. Increasing the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil by adding organic amendments will improve plant health and reduce the nematode damage. Maintaining adequate irrigation can also help avoid water stress which makes plants vulnerable to attack.

Solarization of the soil can also be effective at reducing nematode numbers in the top six to 12 inches of soil but is not practical in most small gardens. This and other techniques are thoroughly outlined in several publications available online. One published by UC Davis can be found at ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7489.html.

Perhaps the best control mechanism for gardeners is to introduce plants that suppress the nematodes. Several have been found effective. Certain marigolds as well as sunn hemp, crotalaria, seem to work.

African marigolds, Tagetes erecta, and French marigolds, T. patula, release a substance that deters nematodes and other disease promoting organisms. Avoid tangerine gem and signet marigolds, T. signata or T. tenuifolia, which can host nematodes. The UH publication at ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-35.pdf has more on this.

Sunn hemp can also help reduce nematode damage while fixing nitrogen in the soil. See ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-32.pdf. Complete information on the nematode infestations in curcubits can be found at ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-84.pdf.

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

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