New Shoots

It occurred to me today that count­ing new shoots might be a good way to mon­i­tor the flow­er­ing poten­tial of the vanillery. I was inspect­ing the vines and think­ing about ways to quan­ti­fy the suc­cess of each plant­i­ng. For each cut­ting we plant­ed, most sprout­ed one new shoot, a few more than one. Enough time has passed so that some of the orig­i­nal new shoots have thrown off new shoots them­selves. Since each node of the vanil­la plant can either grow a new shoot or flower once (if at all), it is nec­es­sary to keep the vines con­stant­ly grow­ing. Maintaining a good num­ber of grow­ing tips means more poten­tial flow­er­ing loca­tions for the next sea­son. First year vines are smooth and soft to the… Read More

First vanilla buds of the year

While the first vanil­la pods of the sea­son are com­ing in, the first flower buds are also appear­ing. Some of these spurts of new growth will result in new vines, branch­ing off of the mature vines, but most of these will form the flow­er­ing racemes. The ear­ly spring is when a lot of new growth occurs, and the vanil­la farmer (me) watch­es with some appre­hen­sion as the flow­er­ing racemes appear (or not!) deter­min­ing the size of the new season’s crop. In a week or so, the morn­ing rit­u­al of the hand pol­li­na­tion will begin. The flow­er­ing sea­son of 2014 was light for us, sev­er­al areas nev­er went to flower, so the 2015 har­vest sea­son will be small.  One of the things… Read More

Vanilla Seedlings

Last year, I noticed a cou­ple of very small vanil­la shoots in the bed under one of my vanil­la trel­lis­es. Looking clos­er, I real­ized that these were clear­ly the almost mirac­u­lous appear­ance of vanil­la seedlings! I tried sev­er­al inter­net search­es to find out: was this com­mon, had oth­er vanil­la grow­ers report­ed this? I found no reports, noth­ing about find­ing or suc­cess­ful­ly pro­duc­ing a vanil­la seedling or that a vanil­la seed had ger­mi­nat­ed nat­u­ral­ly. All I found was that it could be done arti­fi­cial­ly using a gen­er­al tech­nique for start­ing orchid seeds called “flask­ing,” which is basi­cal­ly cre­at­ing ster­ile con­di­tions for an orchid seed to grow. And yet, here they were, 3 vanil­la seedlings that had start­ed spon­ta­neous­ly in the mulch under some of my vanil­la… Read More

Hand-Cured Vanilla Beans and Extract from Kauaʻi

Today we’re rolling out our first prod­ucts for sale! Over the years, we’ve sold these beans through friends, at local farmer’s mar­kets and to local culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als, and though we always intend­ed to make our beans wide­ly avail­able, we always seemed to be too busy to make that hap­pen. Well, now it’s time to offer our unique prod­uct to every­one on the inter­net. Our first offer­ings will be very sim­ple: Grade A and Grade B whole vanil­la beans and 2-ounce bot­tles of our home­made Kauaʻi rum vanil­la extract.

Vanilla Flavor and Edible Geography

Anyone inter­est­ed in cui­sine who has poked around the Internet has learned that there is a stag­ger­ing­ly huge num­ber of food blogs out there! I’m cer­tain­ly in favor of it in gen­er­al, it’s made infor­ma­tion about foods and their prepa­ra­tion acces­si­ble. You can type in the name of an ingre­di­ent or prepa­ra­tion and get an ency­clo­pe­dia of infor­ma­tion and opinions…not to men­tion pho­tog­ra­phy rang­ing from too-beau­ti­­ful to “what were they think­ing?” but you can learn a lot. I cer­tain­ly do. Part of my rea­son for post­ing is to present an inter­est­ing food blog I came across in my research, Edible Geography, which is blow­ing me away in it’s thor­ough­ness and ener­gy in explor­ing a wide range of food-relat­ed top­ics. Looking for… Read More

The Vanillery has been Built!

On APRIL 23, 2014 our vanillery was com­plet­ed. The 20′ x 50′ shade­house was con­struct­ed with the help of jonathan jay, Roland Barker, Lisa Parker and Dave Kasimoff. In the cool, moist mulch of the trel­lis rows, the vanil­la cut­tings are slow­ly sprout­ing root-like fil­a­ments that will anchor the vines and draw in mois­ture and nutri­ents. For now, they are pro­tect­ed from the sun and kept moist while they grow in to their new home, the vanillery.