Stretching my Roots

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The weather has taken a turn for the beautiful these past few days at the home base of the Hawaiʻi Cacao Express. The sun is out, orange blossoms fill the air with perfume, the mulberries are plump and sweet, a breeze blows gentle and kind like a kiss on your forehead by a loved one.

mulberries, orange blossom, hand

Amid these fair days of spring, I have finally managed to plant a cacao tree on my property. Just in time, I hope. I had the potted young tree sitting on the side of my driveway in wait, while I searched for an ideal spot my family and I could clear that was free of aggressive and thorny weeds. But with the delay of drawn-out winter storms and other pressing household projects, the tree could wait no longer and started throwing thick, woody roots from every hole in its pot to burrow into the gravel below. I had to cut the pot off to avoid damaging it.

cacao tree, roots growing out of black plastic pot

You can see it’s a little worse for wear since coming into my care, being gifted to me during the tour of the Cacao Farmer’s of Hawaii’s Co-op, but I’m hoping it will bounce back now that it’s unbound and in the ground.

young cacao tree in pot
young cacao tree in ground

I couldn’t dig a hole for it. The land around my property is young forest over solid lava-rock, so while at a glance it’s lush and green, the soil is only surface deep. Going on the advice of Patrick Merritt of the Cacao Farmer’s of Hawaii, I found a natural crack in the rock and piled on as much soil as I could find. He recommended 3-4 wheelbarrows. I only had about two-thirds of a wheelbarrow of soil. I predict a fair amount of the soil will be washed down the crack in the lava rock with the next heavy rain, so I’ll try to get more soil to replenish it as needed.

I’ve never considered myself a green thumb, but this small accomplishment makes me hopeful I can change that, and eager to start more cacao seeds and experiment. I’m sure I’ll have more updates and trees to come, but for now I’m reveling in the simple joy of a fresh start. Grow strong little tree. I dub thee Ikaika Pot-breaker.

Asia Olsen, shovel, cacao tree

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