Tropical Gardening: Have a safe Thanksgiving

  • Photo courtesy of Voltaire Moise Local turkeys are sticking close to places where they are safe from hunters. Besides, these guys are as tough as rawhide so it is better to buy a tender one at the market.

COVID-19 cases are on the increase again in many parts of America and the world as we go in to the holiday season so it is important to be vigilant. Just last week we had a big outbreak on Kauai due to a church gathering. Dozens of folks were exposed. When we gather for Thanksgiving make sure everyone is vaccinated to protect the keiki and kupuna. Avoiding large gatherings will be necessary to keep our friends and families healthy and alive.

Still, we can focus on our blessings. We are in control of our exposure to the pandemic now that we have the vaccines. The people that make up our island population are special. Let us focus on the great contributions diverse ethnicities and cultures have bestowed on Hawaii and America as we move forward in this experiment called Democracy. Throughout history, there have been worse times and there have been better times.


We have had to struggle through crises and yet our country has met the challenges and become better for them. Let us not forget what our nation has survived from the terrible world war of the 1940s and onward. Millions of lives were lost. Many American Japanese were being treated as enemies. They lost their homes and were sent to internment camps. Then came the 1950s with prejudice against African Americans and folks of the Jewish faith as they were being labeled communists. The ‘60s came along with continued violence against African Americans plus the Vietnam War splitting our nation until the war came to an end in 1975. And this goes on and on until we are here today. Now is the time instead that we should emphasize the power of faith, hope, love and healing in our thoughts and meditations every day. It is amazing to experience how our country has moved beyond anger and hate after years of war and suffering, even though some effects are still visibly present.

The motto “Lucky we live Hawaii” is for real! We are somewhat insulated from much of the world’s turmoil. The tropics have many places with as much beauty as Hawaii, and there are many places where you can find friendly people. Now some readers would disagree, but compared to most tropical regions, we are very fortunate. In November and December of 2019, we were in Vietnam and Myanmar studying reforestation efforts there. We saw that Vietnam for example, fought for freedom from the French, but it is still recovering from the effects of that long war in which we became involved. The apparent peaceful Myanmar we experienced was soon to be destroyed by civil war with a military takeover. In communication with friends we had made in both countries, life is hard and unpredictable.

Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are. Too often, Thanksgiving is about eating too much rich food and the worry that the weight gain is likely to continue until the New Year or maybe Easter. Unlike much of the tropical world, we don’t usually have to worry about from where our next meal comes. However, it should be the perfect time to sincerely give thanks for all the many blessings around us in Hawaii every single day.

We celebrate this abundance with mango festivals, breadfruit festivals, avocado festivals and our special coffee with the Kona Coffee and Cultural Festival. We even have a macadamia festival. These events merely scratch the surface when it comes to all the amazing fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices we are able to grow.


Hawaiian gardeners may grow scores of tropical fruits but often overlook some favorites from warm temperate climates like apples, peaches, pomegranates, figs, kiwi fruits and persimmons. With all the microclimates available, we can grow almost anything!

Remember, one of the best ways to count our daily blessings is by spending some time in our multicultural gardens appreciating the fruits of our efforts and the contributions the many cultures have bestowed upon us. To learn about all the great edibles you can grow, call our UHCTAHR Master gardener helpline in Kona at 322-4993 or in Hilo at 981-9155. Get involved in the master gardener program and make new gardening friends as well.