No, I have a small yard but the weeds are monsters and being in Hawaii with a 365 day growing year, means bugs hang around all year too. I can't spend as much time as I used to, I get too tired, so I do a couple of hours then take a 3 hour break. I can't really work all day in the yard anymore.
I do live on an island but I actually live between the two volcanos. The Koolaus on the East and the Waianae mountains on the west. The highest point on this Island is Mt. Kaala at 4400 ft. The highest community is Wahiawa at 1247 ft. I live around halfway up at 587 ft. Wahiawa is 4 miles away, Pearl Harbor, West Lock, is about 10 miles away. Downtown Honolulu is 23 miles away. It takes about 6 hours to almost circle the island (60 miles). The road at Kaena point washed out during Iniki and it was never repaired so no one can actually take Kam Hwy around the coast all the way anymore.
My soil is Wahiawa series, so it is a weathered oxisol = red clay dirt. Because the origin is volcanic it is high in aluminum which is why phosphorus is tightly bound, but so much has been added now that I actually have to limit it now. My Community garden is in Wahiawa at 800 ft. So much compost and manure has been added and the previous plot owner added 2 ft of soil, so the soil there is hardly the red dirt of Wahiawa. It is very alkaline and now I add peat moss and no more chicken manure to it. The pH there is 7.8. In Wahiawa, it is cold enough to grow some low chill pears, apples, and peaches as well as cherry blossoms (above 900 ft). Litchi grows well there but mangoes, tomatoes, and plumerias do not.
Where I live, 4 miles downhill, it is a couple of degrees warmer. At my elevation, I can grow both litchi and mango. Mango actually grows best further down the hill another 4-7 miles in Waipahu or Waianae, since mango likes it hot and dry. The temperature 4 miles downhill is 4-9 degrees higher than where I live. It is still considered a wet area, not as wet as Wahiawa but it is normal for it to rain every day in the fall and spring. I have the mildew on my house to prove it.
You would have to be right on the beach or a mile or so from it to get to the "sandy soil". Most of the area in the Ewa plain and Waianae coast are coral based and very alkaline.
On the Big Island, Kula in Maui, and Haleakala, the elevation is over 5000 ft and it will snow and get icy on Haleakala and on Mauna Kea and Mauna loa. On the elevations above 2000 ft people can grow zone 8 plants like the Lavender farm on Maui, and protea on the big Island.
The third garden I look after is the herb garden at the Urban garden center which is owned by the University of Hawaii. It is a demonstration garden that is open to the public on weekdays and on second Saturdays. We have plant sales, gardening classes, compost demonstrations, educational tables and tents. There are over a hundred volunteers on paper. The gardens are usually adopted by a volunteer or group. The orphan gardens, usually are on their own, but we do have garden work days where we will try to clean up what we can. There are about 40 volunteers who come regularly.
The Honolulu Rose society takes care of the rose garden. Half the garden is an orchard. The produce that is not stolen by thieves are collected and given to the food bank every week about 150 lbs a week. We have an idea garden where volunteers grow western and ethnic vegetables, 5 children themed gardens, a medicinal herb garden, Hawaiian herb garden.
The apiary is taken care of by the bee hui and I am part of that as well as the grafting hui. We just harvested about 100 jars of honey two weeks ago and all of it was sold last week. June is pollinator month and the bee hui sponsors the event every June. I grew plants and flowers that attract pollinators and beneficial insects. The theme this year focused on the solitary bees. We also have a boardwalk garden, gardenia, the unthirsty container hui grows succulents for the plant sale and have a unthirsty garden. There is a hula mound.
The Pearl City Bonsai Club had bonsai by the office. All were stolen except for 1. Now, members will bring plants to display only for second Saturday, but they don't leave the legacy plants there anymore.
There are 2 peace gardens and a peace path has been started but has yet to be fully planted out.
I take care of the herb garden, which now contains more than herbs. It used to be primarily western herbs and there was another quadrant for eastern and medicinal herbs. The Eastern herbs did not have a caretaker so it became the container fruit garden and the Eastern and ethnic herbs are now part of the culinary herb garden, which contains all culinary herbs and spices. Spice trees are in the central oval. I am also in the grafting hui ( I grow plants from cuttings, I have a 100% grafting failure rate. I need to practice cutting more so I don't get the wave), the Bee Hui (we have 10 hives and just harvested and sponsored the June Pollinator event on Second Saturday. Grafting hui sponsors 2 grafting educational sessions a year), Organic Hui has now become the composting Hui. I am an ancillary member of the compost hui. We do compost studies, and trench composting experiments in the herb garden and I give them clean trimmings for the greens for the compost piles. I think I have finally convinced Phyllis that synthetic fertilizer does not kill soil organisms as long as it is not overused and coupled with adding carbon rich compost so the soil organisms have a balanced diet and there is enough nitrogen to support the plants. It was harder to get her to pull out the massive chard since she wanted to keep it forever.
I belong to two orchid clubs and I just joined the Pearl City Bonsai club today. I have one bonsai ( 28 year old bougainvillea). I did tell them, I probably will only come when I need consults for the bougie because bee hui, and grafting hui are he same day and time.
I have done some classes, oddly mostly on basic gardening, repotting orchids, herbs, and now I have to do one on basic succulent care. For that I am asking my friends from the cactus and succulent society for help. I live in Mililani which is way to wet to grow succulents well, so I only have a few that can tolerate wetter conditions. I answer individual questions on plant care on Second Saturdays. I am an emeritus Master Gardener. I took the class in 2009. The plant doctors will sometimes tell people to go find me to answer their questions. Sometimes, I have a line following me, as well as the people asking questions about the plants even when I am not wearing my shirt at the plant sale. Google helps a lot with the plants I am not familiar with. Sometimes, I have to guess what people are talking about because they don't actually know the plant name and I have to figure it out from the ethnic names, butchered names, and plant descriptions. Sometimes people will ask for things like Ylang Ylang, chico, and plantains. I ask them how much space they have because Ylang Ylang, Chico, most of the spice trees in general will be 40-80 ft tall. Saba and plantains are over 25 ft tall, and will probably be seen when the fruit is ready. Around here if anyone asks for your bananas it means you better cut it quick or the midnight harvesters will harvest it for you. Then there are the people who want a houseplant that does not require care, bloom, and can live at the end of a dark hallway.
I do organic gardening consults, but I am not a pure organic gardener. I know how to do it, I just prefer not to use the animal byproducts which are the best nitrogen sources. I also don't really want to be making compost tea every week. When my friend, Phyllis, went on her cruise we were doing a compost study with lettuce and I had to do it organically. I make non aerated tea, but she wanted to use AACT for the study. She loaned me her aerator and I had to make AACT every week for three weeks and do the growth measurements. Making the tea is not the biggie. Hauling five gallons of the stuff to the garden every week was. AACT needs to be applied within 4 hours of turning off the aerator for the best results. This is less of an issue with non-aerated compost tea. Non aerated tea has more anaerobic bacteria, but they live longer in the soil than aerated tea because once the oxygenation is cut off, aerobic bacteria begin to starve. That was proven in a previous study I did on aerated vs non-aerated tea. The non aerated tea plants did better in that experiment. Another friend of mine makes bokashi. I am not into doing that, although, I did learn how to do it. I would rather eat rice than ferment it. Bokashi is usually made with rice bran. I am ok with using EM1 though.
Composting is in the 4th quadrant that used to contain the miscellaneous herbs. According to Asian cultural practices, food is considered medicine and food crops are also grown in the herb garden. Also because of the nature of the soil there, few perennials can survive. ( It is in the lowest part of the garden and floods when it rains hard). Most of the herbs are seasonal and other plants are put in to take up the space. Part of the garden is now being used for the trench composting experiment. We are putting in partially decomposed compost and finishing it by trench composting in the garden. It takes 5 months for it to be plantable and it works best on the wider parts of the garden. The soil in this garden is very inhospitable. It has a lot of fill material, so it is hard to say what kind of soil it is. It is mucky clay. There are nematodes, phytophthora, and flooding issues. Some plants will not grow and some can only be grown in pots. Lemon grass blooms because of the phytophthora and needs to be replaced every few years. I have green manured, inoculated cowpeas and it is so fungal dominant that it has never been able to retain the soil fixing bacteria unless it is inoculated every time. It is heavily composted but the current compost tests at a pH 8.13. A lot of plants cannot handle that. Compost does buffer the soil so it acts more neutral even when it is not, but it cannot hold on to much nitrogen so the plants are healthy but shorter than they should be. I still plant the buckwheat and cowpeas but, even they require nitrogen supplements to grow well.
I am harvesting corn now from 2 different gardens. I fertilized the patch three times with sulfate of ammonia so I actually have decent sized corn over 8 ft tall and a decent harvest of UH corn. I also have UH komohana tomatoes. The UH master gardener coordinator asked me to plant more of the UH varieties of vegetables in garden. I also have UH Wailua pepper (Jalapeno). Since the garden has basil downy mildew, I cannot grow sweet basil anymore. The garden has Rama and Kapoor (tulsi) basils, Blue Spice basil. ajaka, and some Thai basil will last a little longer. I grow ginger, turmeric, fennel, lavender, Jamaican oregano, brown turkey figs, shiso, peppers, thyme (3 kinds), oregano, gynuura, chives, leeks, garlic chives, lemon grass, day lily (fulva) has edible flowers.
Right now I have Komohana tomatoes, moonwalker sunflowers, peanut, butternut squash (it volunteered from the compost), eggplant, cutting celery, parsley, culantro, UH #9 corn and a whole lot of weeds. It takes me 3 hours to weed it and I am done for the rest of the day. I grow herbs and vegetable starts for the plant sales and also for the herb garden.
All of the gardens are behind on the weeds because I pretty much am doing most of it myself and I can't spend 6 hours a day, 4 days a week in the garden anymore. I also have to go to work and I can't do anything too tiring on those days. As a result, the weeds get massive and are harder to take out. I have some escaped heliconia and bamboo to take care of as well as needing to cut back the aloe, dragon fruit, rambler rose, and the neighbors plants coming through my fence or falling on my orchid benches. I currently am harvesting the corn from both gardens. After that, I will have to clean up the garden and plant another round of corn. Corn and beans grow best in the long hot summer. I like corn, beans not so much, so I only plant 9 beans. Since it is a heavy feeder, I use sulfate of ammonia, the garden is rich enough in the other elements that it will be fine for years. I will only add more compost with the nitrogen since the garden sinks a bit when the previous compost decomposes. Someone helps me take care of my community garden. I just harvest and plant a few things. I will probably get more time to work it again when I no longer have to work 5 days a week and I can get my garden day back.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.