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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Adventure #34: Hugelkultur, BTE, and the Hattori Homestead

A blog a year, that's what I'm currently averaging. Unacceptable.  Here comes the excuse:  work happened, then we pulled Reise out of preschool and I am now asked "Why?, Why?, Why?" every 10 seconds, every waking hour, and I insist on answering EVERY. SINGLE. WHY. because curiosity is knowledge and knowledge is power, right?  Or did curiosity really kill the cat?  OR did curiosity kill the cat's MOM?  Either way, she's brilliant, but I am her person.... I am her source of fun, her source of food, her teacher, and her butt wiper, (TMI?).  So when I think I'm done making sure she's spent enough time outside, had enough fun, learned enough, eaten enough, and is pooping sufficiently, I go to sit down for some me time.  Me time... That's the part where you LOL!  Who am I kidding?!  She's hungry again, she's bored, she has already finished the project that I thought would take a half hour and only took the ten minutes it took me to go pee and feed the chickens.  So I try to wake up early, and when I wake up early, I go downstairs, drink coffee like it's the nectar of the gods, embracing each uninterrupted sip, and I sit down and work on my book.  My book.  That felt strange to type.  I never went to school for writing, but it somehow has always been in me and I must let it out.  I might be crazy, but I'm giving writing an autobiography a shot.  My life hasn't been boring, I promise you this, and even if you THINK you know me, I swear you will learn ten things you didn't know about me if you read it.  It's deep, it's personal, it scares the shit out of me thinking someone might actually read it.

ANYWAYS, I'm WAY OFF topic.  It's just nice having you to talk to, (you being whoever you are reading this... and crazy me addressing you because I'm with a five year old all day).  So, now that we've talked about life and stuff, let me tell you about my garden.  That's the other thing I do.  Writing + Gardening = Therapy.  It's no big secret that we live in Hawaii, and therefore we live on the slopes of the inactive volcano, Haleakala.  We live on lava rock.  The plus side to living on lava, great drainage, the negative, digging a hole.  When we first moved in, I spent hours, blood, sweat, and backaches digging out lava rock to create the first garden.  Then I decided to work smarter, not harder and began researching raised bed ideas.  I didn't want to spend a fortune building boxes everywhere and trying to level out our gently sloping land, (leveling would have put me right back to digging, so that would have been counter-productive).  I found hugelkultur, ("bless me"), and Back to Eden gardening.  I became obsessed.  Hugelkultur meant using a layering technique that would allow the garden to provide it's own nutrients for approximately TWENTY YEARS.  You use logs, then sticks, then whatever lighter mediums you want, (like grass clippings or straw or manure), then top it off with soil.  We have trees we've chopped all over the property, so I was sold.

Jun, bless his heart.  He listens to my rant on hugelkultur, (which he could care less about), but he still proceeds to help me haul the wood, haul the soil, and build that mofo just to make me happy.  He and my Dad just look at me like, "There she goes again on one of her projects!".  I am the project queen.  If I'm project-less, there's an empty nagging feeling deep inside that won't go away.  There's always other stuff I could be doing, like laundry, or dishes, or vacuuming... BOOOOORING.  No, I need a hands on, get myself covered in paint, covered in sawdust, or covered in dirt kind of project.  I also found the BTE method, which was more of a raised bed approach, so I just bought some cheap wood and put both gardens side-by-side.  Ask Jun, "side-by-side" is one of my favorite things.  He'll say, "Do you like Corona or Pacifico better?", when we're shopping at the store.  I say, "Let's try both so I can do a side-by-side." Which salsa is better?  Side-by-side.  Which shirt looks better?  Side-by-side.  Which paint?  Side-by-side.  Which garden works better?  Side-by-side.

When I started this project, I didn't have a clue just how successful they both would be.  They both are concepts that keep your gardens nearly weed-free, on top of all of their other benefits.  There are pros and cons with both, but the winner for me is the hugelkultur, ("bless me again").  The reason it wins is because I used things I would have just taken to green waste anyways, yet they become plant food.  It also gives you more planting space per square foot because of it being a hill shape, and like I mentioned before, it is self fertilizing as the brush decomposes underneath.  The only con is that heavy rainfall causes some of the soil to fall down, exposing some of the roots of plants, but that is getting better all the time as it compacts, and I just add more soil over the roots when it happens.  The BTE is going great too.  We've harvested more radishes and beans than we know what to do with out of it, but I will have to fertilize it and add compost as I replant it.  If you have any questions about either of these methods, please don't hesitate to ask.  I can save you the hours of research because I've already done it.  I've been over here gardening, canning, cooking, and composting straight from the earth.  Shit, I'm like a walking, talking, Mother Earth News.  Maybe saying "Shit" wasn't appropriate, but you're not five and I love that word, so shit, shit, shit, shit.

My next project when we get back from vacation, (California and Alaska these next few weeks... EEK!), is using my leftover wood to create an edible flower garden.  I'm going to be outside like a little rabbit just grazing away on my flowers.  It's going to be EPIC.  (Yes, I'm a mom to a five year old, and my idea of epic is eating flowers.... and surfing stellar waves.... at least maybe the latter makes me a little cool?).  Oh, and chickens.  Our chickens and their eggs are pretty epic too, so I'll include some pictures of them also.  And no blog would be complete without my little person, (with guest appearances by my main four-legged man, Lono).  Reise definitely makes my days brighter and my world a better place... "Why's" and all.

 HUGELKULTUR  ("Bless me")

The genuine meaning of the "labor of love" right here.
He helps with these things just to make me happy.
The mound is ready!
I added some wood chips along the sides for easier walking.
Seeds are growing!
I added a nice little herb and flower garden in front of it.
Nothing is little anymore.  Our garden is a big, beautiful dinosaur of plants!

AND BAM!  This before and after really gives you perspective
with the herbs in front and the plants behind.


I'd been saving newspapers as a weed barrier for a year.

Photo creds go to my sister, Kristina, when they were visiting. 
Lono is hunting for lizards in the "first garden", I'm working away,
and the kids are in the background playing on the Moana Boat.  :)


Reise tries a lot more vegetables now that she participates in picking them.

Too bad I didn't take pictures of our purple carrots or
our giant watermelon radishes.  They were SO PRETTY!

Good raw, but also amazing roasted.  I used both the radish
tops and the carrot tops in these dishes.  Carrot tops became
 pesto, radish tops became a wilted salad green 
to serve with the radishes.

When I have too much of something, I give stuff away or I can..
This pickled namasu is so beautiful and completely from the garden.

The namasu made for one phenomenal Bahn Mi sandwich.

Jun loves red meat, so we sometimes make pot roast so he gets
his fix. I still use all of our own herbs and vegetables in it though!

I'm not much of a red meat eater, but dang that's
a pretty pot roast, (if I must say so myself).

And we have salads and all the fixins' coming out of our.... 
garden. So much salad!  I add in peaches from our tree for
a sweet touch. I actually just canned many mason jars
of momoshu; a japanese peach wine with our peaches.

My canning drawer keeps growing. 


I once made a board on Pinterest called "Hawaii Life - Pictures by Danielle Hattori".  I do nothing with it, but everyday I get emails saying I've been re-pinned, (or whatever you call it), a bunch of times.  It's almost always the same pin.  It's not the beautiful hula dancer, the Manhattan sized crater, or the gorgeous beaches in Hawaii.  It's my old chicken coop.  My old chicken coop is a Pinterest sensation.  "The Fuster Cluck", which you can see HERE, if you'd like.  When we got the chickens, I knew their coop needed a name.  I now introduce you to our Buff Orpingtons: Pip Squeak, Pie Pie, Pecky, Purple, Panda, Picchu, and Pickles.  Their home I lovingly painted and named, "The Chick Inn (the Buff)".  Remember, they're Buff, get it?  The Chick Inn the Buff?  Ba dom chee.

This close up is just to show the cute little chicken I painted on the sign.

The chickens have a playground, equipped with a xylophone
and all, (you know, just in case they're feeling musical).

We grew the chickens this sunflower to eat, which they
totally dug.  One of the chickens is photobombing us here.

If you're ever at my house, and Reise has gone missing, she's
 likely one of three places.  One, with the chickens.  Two,
on the Moana Boat I made for her, (which you can see here)
Or three, shoveling through my compost looking for
roly-polies and worms.

The chicken in all of the pictures with Reise is "Pie Pie".
I bandaged and healed her as a chick when she came with a
 broken leg.  Reise promptly named her "Cutie Pie", now
shortened to "Pie Pie", and they've been buddies ever since.

Our chickens are treasured just for their unique personalities
they each have, and their eggs are just the icing on the cake.
Occasionally we get a double-yoker.  OUCH!  I pity the
chicken who laid this egg.
This is "Purple", our presumably deaf chicken, (since all the other
chickens come to me like dogs when I call them... which is pretty
amazing and amusing to see them follow me around).  Purple is
special with a face only a mother could love, (and I do love her).
I call her my Trump chicken, (mean of me, I know).

Her long "Trump" comb may be the reason for Purple's hearing loss.

Speaking of purple, lavender and jacarandas are blooming
like crazy at our house.  Bring on the pollinators

And just because... these two and their friendship melts my heart.

Let me know you stopped by!  I love hearing from you.  

Danielle and The Hattori Homestead


  1. I love love love reading your blog posts, even if they only come once a year! I'm going to try the Hugelkultur next year, I think. I have a raised garden this year in an attempt to keep my plant eating puppy out of it. It didn't work. 😂

    1. Aww, that means so much to hear! I’m glad I gave you some Hugulkultur inspiration. It’s really working nicely for us. It’s even better if you can make the bed this year and plant it next year. It gives it time to set and compress. Let me know how it turns out. Hopefully your puppy grows out of it by then too. 😆 Xoxo

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  3. Always fun to hear your latest endeavors. To say you have your hands full is an understatement but that's what life is about especially when your doing something you love with the ones you love. Remember these are precious memories you're creating especially for your little one. Keep up the the hard work it always pays off sometimes in ways we don't expect. Good luck and may God continue to bless you and your family.

    1. By the way its Art not "Unknown". I'm terrible at this.

    2. Thank you for your beautiful words. I never take a moment of any of it for granted. ❤️

    3. It means even more now that I know it’s you, Art. Xo

  4. A book on it's own. Just delightful as are you and your family. Continued success be your!

    1. Mahalo Ned for reading and your beautiful comment. And keep those amazing pictures coming. I love seeing them!

  5. Awesome read sis!! I LOVED being able to see it all first hand and thanks so much for the shout out!! I'll be sure to remember you when I'm taking shots for Nat Geo ;)
    Can't wait to read the book too!! I better get a signed first edition 😘
    Love you to the mountains and back! ❤


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