Aloha all you kava lovers! Sometimes it is hard for me to think of kava articles because I’m constantly in the middle of growing, harvesting, and processing it. I had an idea about this article when I was talking to a friend who is starting to grow kava. He always asks questions about how I grow my kava. He asks all kinds of questions but they all are related to his main question, ”What techniques do I use to make my Kava grow so big and potent?” That gave me the idea for this article. My friend told me that my kava grows so big and healthy while his kava seems to have a hard time and are not that big and healthy. My short answer for him is this, “I’ve been growing and studying Kava all my adult life and it takes time to learn all the tricks and techniques”. But there are certain techniques that can make a difference.
This is where the story begins. Most people think you just plant the kava in the ground and it will grow. That is true to a extent but there are ways to make the kava grow better, bigger, and more potent. I am sure that most of you heard that there are certain times of the year that are better for planting than others. This is true and it can make the difference between growing huge potent Kavas versus mediocre plants. However, there are certain techniques that help the kava grow even better.
We all know that if you feed the plants then they will grow big and healthy. I am a big believer in growing organically and I make my own compost that I use for growing my kava plants. The compost is made with all natural materials. I use wood chips from certain trees and I add things like fish emulsion, seaweed, and some other secret ingredients. I let this mixture compost for about 6 months and then it is ready to feed both the soil and my Kava Plants. Compost is one of the most important things when growing kava. If you have good dirt then the kava will have all the nutrients it needs to grow big and healthy. The Hawaiians called this "Lepo Ola" or "Healthy Dirt". This is where it all starts, the kava needs good dirt to grow to it's full potential. There are other things too. The kava need plenty of water and periodic feedings. I like to feed my Kava my special compost at certain intervals of the kava's life so that it gets plenty of nutrients at the right time. It’s just like growing flowers and tomatoes. You feed them at certain times and with the right nutrients and they will provide you with maximum blooms and fruit.
As I mentioned earlier, planting the kava at the right time is very important. It is better to plant in the spring than in the winter. But I also have other tricks to make sure the kavas grow to their full potential. When I told my friend that I often take a young kava plant and pull it up if it is not growing to my expectations, he was horrified. I explained to him that if the kava does not grow to my expectations and in a certain time frame, then I will pull it out and plant another one. I have learned through trial and error that if you don’t catch the growing cycle of the kava then it won’t grow well and will be a disappointment at the end. I guess it can be likened to a runt in a litter of puppies, not that I would throw away a puppy, but with kava plants I have enough so I can do that. The bottom line is that I hate to waste time and valuable compost on a plant that is doomed to failure.
If you plant the kava at the right time with good composted enhanced dirt, it should do very well and very fast. In my book, if I don’t see immediate results, then I know there is something wrong. For example, a stunted plant might have been in a pot for too long and did not take kindly to transplantation. So I have to make a quick decision as to whether to keep it or cull it. If it is a rare kava like the new Orange kava that I recently got, then I will not pull it up if it is not growing well. In this instance, I make every attempt to nurse the plant back to health. The Orange Kava is a rare Kava and it might even be the 14th Kava of Hawaii so I will do whatever it takes to propagate it. Worse case scenario, I can at least take cuttings from this plant to make new healthy kava plants.
I took some pictures to show you what I am talking about. As you can see from the pictures, I space the Kava far apart. Kava will not grow large if they sense another plant nearby. All of the plants in the pictures are about 4 months old except the stunted plant. This gives you an idea of what I am talking about when it comes to the kava growing as expected because the stunted plant is 7 months old, compared to the 4 month old plants it looks like a baby kava. Some of the things I look for when I look at the kava plants is the size of the leaves and the new stalks as they shoot out, this tells me how the kava is doing, if I get nice big leaves with the new young stalks growing fast and enlarging at a good rate then things are good. A stunted kava plant will not have big leaves or
So there is a short summary of some of the considerations when growing Kava. Perhaps in the future I will talk more about all the kavas I grow and their history.
Talk to you soon, aloha.