DAVID ISHII FARMS
Maui's upcountry red volcanic soil is excellent for making the world famous "red dirt shirts". However, this same high mineral soil, with little or no organic matter, frustrates and challenges the farmers growing island fresh vegetables.
The soil's talcum powder consistency makes it erode and flow down Haleakala's steep slopes as if it were still lava. The hot, dry climate of Maui's leeward, or desert, side quickly breaks down the soil, depleting it of nutrients.
After trying everything from chicken manure to molasses to "dry water" starches with no long term results, an answer was finally found. What the soil needed was the addition of stable organic matter.
EKO Compost was tilled into the soil. The initial rate was 30 - 60 cubic yards per acre, depending upon the terrace. The on-going rate before each planting is 15 - 25 cubic yards per acre.
The humus from the compost bound the powdery soil particles into aggregates. These aggregates helped retain nutrients and moisture, making the soil crumbly and more workable. The improved soil no longer eroded downhill from terrace to terrace.
The rich nutrients of the compost kept the plants growing right through the hot, dry summer months. In fact, the benefits were still noticeable after one full year. It was learned, though, to use just the right amount of compost as the rich nitrogen content could possibly burn new, tender plant starts.
Best, and most important of all, while it took the same amount of time to reach harvest, the cabbages and baby greens were much bigger, much healthier, with much rounder heads. All three of which fetch better prices at local markets.