Taro ICU

Aquarium Pump Lo’i

Aquarium Pump Lo’i.

Growing taro has been exciting for me, but Spring always results in a few losses. It’s a pretty big stress on these plants to go dormant when they’re used to continuous growth. My new barrelponics system will solve that by keeping the water warm thru a solar water-heater. But this Spring still needs to be dealt with.

I have been keeping my sickly taro in my aquarium water filter to recover for several weeks now. It has worked out perfectly, but that window is losing its direct light, so I grabbed a spare and took it down into the pit greenhouse to test it on my pair of test bucket-lo’i. The taro already in the bucket lo’i have been doing very well – one variety never went dormant and the other is coming back from dormancy pretty vigorously. They are also now in the sun as the shade from the southern wall is receding. The taro in the fish-filter are still growing fine, but they’re starting to reach a little harder for that light, so it’s time to find an alternative location for my Taro ICU.

Freshly placed filter with Haokea keiki in it.

Freshly placed filter with Haokea keiki in it.

I plopped the filter on there, filled it up with water and turned it on. Within moments I had a good flow. My poor skeeter-fish in there wasn’t sure what to make of this new intrusion, but it wasn’t long before they were back at the surface hunting for food. I didn’t have the taro I am keeping in the other fish filter out there yet, so I rummaged thru my pots of taro looking for weak taro keiki – ones that are having trouble getting started. I found a pair of Ula Ula Kumu and one of my Haokea that suited the task pretty well. They all had little corms on them and would probably have come out fine after some period of struggle, but I am going to dig all these up anyway and put them into a barrelponics system so it’s no harm.

Ula ula Kumu on left, Haokea on right.

Ula ula Kumu on left, Haokea on right.

They’re now propped up in the fish filter and looking pretty good. I’ll know in a week or so how they do but given my experience with some keiki that were in much worse shape, I’m confident that these guys will take off vigorously. This is the same basic idea that is behind barrelponics – using fish water pumped thru a tank to feed plants. I’m only missing the pea-gravel that barrelponics uses in this instance, and for me the water is kept much higher because the taro I have in there are wetland taro.

Pi’iali’i keiki putting out new leaf.

Pi’iali’i keiki putting out new leaf.

Incidentally, the upland grown Piialii that I grew for a couple of years and finally decided to plop in the mud of one of my bucket-lo’i is waking up just fine and putting out it’s first wetland grown leaf. The one I have in ICU is also putting out a new leaf. A very happy future awaits these Pi’iali’i – they’re one of my favorite taros.

Once I get a third filter this afternoon, I’ll move the rest of the taro down there to benefit from more direct sunlight. A pair of them could probably be planted in a pot of topsoil mud and plunged into one of my bucket-lo’i tho – they’ve gotten pretty big already thanks to the fish water. I expect this to serve as an example of the potential that the barrelponics lo’i system will perform and am looking forward to seeing a mass of taro growing in 30 containers here later this spring. I’ll keep ya’ll posted on the progress.

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About MikeV

I'm a horticultural enthusiast. My life is deeply shaped by my plant passion. I am decidedly tropical, influenced by having lived on Guam, by life on Hawaii as a young child, and a deep infatuation for fruit and veggies common to the tropics.

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