Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Taro(kalo) was mentioned in chinese books as early as 100(B.C.). Taro has about 1,500 species, but there are only about 300 species or more known today. Taro are tropical or subtropical. They grow better in tropical areas because they get the sun, and subtropical areas you can grow this plant but it is colder and not that much sun. So the taro isn't that big because of the lack of sun. Early European navigators tell of taro in Japan, Tonga, Samoa, and New Zealand. Some of the different names used for kalo are Colocasia esculenta(Latin), Culcas(Egyptian), and Kelady, Tallies or Taloes(Malay). Hawaii has created the most varieties of kalo, it is adaptsble to different locations and soil than anywhere else in the world. It takes about eleven to twelve months before the taro is harvested. Taro is the prized food of the Ali`i. Only the men of the family could plant, harvest, cook, and mash the taro because the women were "unclean". Taro resists drought and loves excessive moisture and can prosper under a variety of conditions. The building of a lo`i is intensive labor. It requires streams, ditches, terraces, embankments, planting, tending, and harvesting.
In Ancient Hawaii, war was forbidden during the planting and hrvesting seasons. Many taro are named for a single character, the leaf or the stem. Some taro anr named for places where they are thought to have originated like punalu`u or kalalau, but it is rare. You can also tell the variety by looking at the piko. Wild taro is common along streams and in damp forest areas of Hawaii. Wild taro is called `Ahe on Kauai and `Aweu on the other islands. Cuttings from `Aweu are the hardiest of all taro, the greens are good when cooked, but the corm is tough and small. On Oahu, there are other wild taro besides the `Aweu, called Ma`auea. Also other domesticated taros the Lehua and Lauloa have gone wild and are found in West Oahu. All wild taro have small corms and long vigorous roots.


Planting taro on dry land originated on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dry land taro was planted in places where streams are not found. Some of the steps to making a dry land patch is to clear the area of trees, roots, and any other shrubs or plants in the way. After clearing and cleaning the patch, the patch is left along for about six days so that the plants and grass can become mulch. After about six days an 'o'o is used to make nine inch holes at least twelve inches apart. When the huli is in the holes the farmers or planters wait until the roots grow vigorously then cover the hole with dirt.
Ha'aheo planting is when a team of men working in unison to plant taro. They start off by selecting an area. They then burn that specific area and leave it for a week. They made holes with an 'o'o and plant the huli. After planting, they spread grass over the dirt and leave it for about a week or two. When hey go back to the patch, the weeds are over grown again. They burn the weeds and the taro leaves. It says that if the leaves are burned off the taro leaves, the taro leaves and corm are good and big.
Rasied beds or the (kipi) method originated from hilo. Rasied beds were made because of the lack of water. Raised beds look like long islands in a marsh with ditches of water in between rows. The kipi method is kind of like dry land taro because they are on land, but the kipi method, the water is circulating around the roots. In Hilo kipi method is popular becasue after a big rain the taro would grow up to six ti nine feet high and the corm, wery big. In Hilo raised beds were made in the marsh by stomping until a heap of dirt and weeds come out of the water.
Lo`i kalo or(flooded terraces) is the most well known technique and the most efficient technique to growing taro. Lo`i kalo is an effective water management technique because not only does the lo`i kalo take water it also returns it to the stream. When it rains hard the taro come big becasue of the amount of water moving around and around. Now days lo`i kalo are still around but from all the hard rains erosion has been a big issue. So at our lo`i kalo we are using a rock stacking technique call drystack. Dry stack uses only rock, the bottom rocks are big and the top rocks are small. All the rocks are placed at a cirtent angle, this angle is faced towards the wall. The reason for this is if and big rain comes, the water will hit the rocks, not the wall, and as the water hits the rocks the rocks lock together not moving and the water does not evffect the dirt wall causing erosion. So at our lo`i kalo we used this technique to stop erosion.
Question: How to Harvest?
The way you harvest is to wait for the kalo to produce it's corm. The way you can tell it is time to harvest is when the piko leaf starts to shrink or get smaller. When the leaf gets smaller, that means the corm is taking all the nutrition away from the leafs and storing it in the corm and that is how the corm comes out big and delicious.
Question: How to re-plant?
After harvesting the taro the stem or the (huli) is saved to make more taro. The leafs are cut off and the corm is cut just below the pink rim around the stem. The pink rim is where the roots sprout out of. The stems are left out to dry for a day or two and then the stems are planted in the lo`i, raised beds, or dry land.
Question: How would we sustain ourselves?
We can sustain ourselves by growing our own food. Some of the food that we can grow are kalo, ulu, uala, mi`a, and ect. If we start growing we can be prepared for emergency or shortage of food. We could live off the land if we start to plant and cultivate. In my house I have been growing kalo. As of right now I have ten kalo, five are mature and five are keki but, i know that there are going to be offspring from the mature kalo. Many people are starting to go organic.


feki54 said...


Rachel said...

Lauren. This project is so mean brah. I love it. Your blog is amazing!! Keep up the good work. Love;Rachel

Brickwood said...