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Tropical Garden Rotation Plan with selected varieties

Below we share our working ʻĀina Exotics Garden Rotation Plan. This information shares with you the seed varities that have proven to work well for us in Hāmākua, at about 500 feet elevation. We hope this provides some insight into how to organize your tropical garden planting. We will update this as new varities and vegetables are introduced into our regular rotation. Your comments, experiences and advice is welcome.


(j) Johhny’s Selected Seeds

(O) Osborne Seeds

(out) Outside pride seeds

(DTMS) days to maturity from seedling

D2MT days to maturity from transplant


We propose to have by the end of the year and in rotation…

7 beds, 80 feet x 4 feet

2 short-term direct sow crop beds in constant rotation

2 medium term crop beds

2 long-term beds

1 perennial bed



List of Seeds for direct sowing in short term bed

Radish – Cherriette (O) 26 DTM

Spring mix – 28 DTMS – Allstar gourmet (j)

Mustard – Florida Broad leaf 45 DTMS, Red Giant (J) 21-47(D)

Turnip – Scarlet Queen (O), 43 DTMS

Kai choy- 45-50 DTMS can be eaten before maturity – thinned this way

Pak Choi – Joi Choi F1 (J), 45-50 DTMS can be eaten before maturity – thinned this way

Daikon – Chinese, Minowase (O) and Alpine (J), 50 DTMS

Young beet – 55 DTMs – red atlas (O), Merlin (J), 48 DTMS

Bush green beans (provider (J) 50 DTMS – harvest for 3 weeks)

Lettuce – Coastal star (J) 57 DTMS (subtract 10-14 days if transplanting.)

Carrot – Bolero (J), 75 DTMS; gold finger f1 (O) 90 DTMS

Method for short-term direct sow crop beds – every 3-4 weeks

  1. plant radish (25 days), turnip (43 days) mustard (45 days), kai choy and pak choi (50 days), bush bean (50 days) daikon (50-60 days), beets (55 days), carrots (75 days)
  2. Harvest radish – replace with bush beans
  3. Harvest mustards/choys replace with lettuce starts
  4. Harvest daikon – replace with spring mix
  5. Harvest carrots/beets – replace with radish and spring mix (if applicable)

=> Once day hundred comes around we have bush bean, spring mix, radishes,

Do this type of bed 3-4 a year by rotating parts of the bed


1st planting of bed [radish, turnip, mustard][choys, daikon, bush bean][carrots][beets]

2nd planting of bed [beets][carrots][radish, turnip, mustard][choys, daikon, bush bean]


Transplant/sow new bed every 6 weeks

List of seeds for direct sow in summer

Bean long – Gita (J) 78 days to maturity

Corn – UH Sweet, lowlands 76-81 days to maturity

Soy beans – 75 DTM for early, 104 DTM for late)

Cowpea 60-90 DTM for fresh peas, 110 for dried

Okra, 70-80 DTM

List of seeds for direct sow (all year)

Cucumber – General Lee, (J), 55-90 DTMS – but we tend to start these in 4″ pots and plant out at 2 week. 

Medium term seeds starts

Chinese Cabbage, Rubicon F1 (J), 52 D2MFT

Head Cabbage, Ruby Perfection (J), 85 D2MFT, Green Presto (O), 62 D2MFT

Celery – Conquistador (J), 80 D2MFT

Broccoli – 80 to 100 D2MFT

Cauliflower – 80 to 100 D2MFT

Chard, Fordhook Giant (J), 25-50 D2MFT

Long lettuce




Method and Steps:

  1. In part of the bed sow seeds on list directly above
  2. Transplant items on list above all at the same time if possible
  3. Harvest napa/chinese cabbage, replace with lettuce starts and bush beans, chard
  4. Harvest head cabbage replace with spring mix

Do this type of bed every 2 months

Rotate brassica/cucumbers/lettuce/bush beans

Use beneficials up the middle of the bed and along the sides


LONG-TERM BEDS 70-120+day

Sow new long-term every 3 months/12 weeks

Seed Starts:

Eggplant, Galine F1 (J), 65 D2MFT

Parsley, Giant of Italy (J), 75 D2MFT

Peppers, use local

Tomato, use local cherry tomatoes

Kale – Aina Ola ,65 D2MS

Tomatillo, De Milpa (J), 75 D2MFT


Direct sow

Basil, 78 DTMS; Amethyst Improved (j), 60 DTMS

Green bunching onion, White spear (J), 65 DTMS

Shallots, need to find heat tolerant variety



Direct Sow Perennial

Chives- Nira (J), 90 DTMS

Long Bean


Transplant Perennial


New Zealand Spinach, (Out) 55-65 D2MFT

River Pepper, Laupahoehoe Heirloom

Pachyrhizus (jicama relative)


Sunny Edges:

Pintoi peanut (perennial peanut)




Pigeon pea


Shaded Edges:


New guinea impatiens



Seed starts:

Every 6 weeks

  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce head

Every 8-12 weeks

  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Chard
  • Peppers
  • Kale
  • Basil


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Where to buy tropical fruit and exotics on the Big Island of Hawaii

Finding a place to buy tropical fruit on the Big Island of Hawaii isn’t hard. There are plenty of farmers markets selling all the top best sellers. Most often you can find many varieties of papaya, pineapple, mango, lychee and more. Some vendors at markets bring their rare fruits and foods with them. Here is a list of Hawaii Island farmer’s markets from the Hāmākua Ag Coop.

Regardless, tracking down new exotic fruits is little bit harder than showing up at farmers markets. Most exotic fruit enthusiasts grow their own at home and share them with their friends and neighbors.

Below is a short list of places where you can be sure to find a large selection of seasonal exotic and tropical fruits. 

Where to buy tropical fruit and Exotics on Big Island:

  1. Hilo Farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  2. South Kona Fruit Stand
  3. Island Naturals – often has selections including Soursop, Rollinia, Mamey Sapote, Rambutan, Black Sapote, White Sapote, Starfruit
  4. Locavore Store in Hilo – sells everything it can find
  5. Adaptations – Kona CSA box
  6. Pop-up road side stands for seasonally available produce 
  7. Us, ʻĀina Exotics of course
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Work-trade opportunity caretaker as early as April

Aloha! We have a work-trade opportunity on our Big Island fruit tree farm and nursery. We are looking for a responsible and experienced individual to work 8-10 hours a week in exchange for rent-free living in a private and off-grid hale.

Please read the below and if you are interested email Katie at with a completed application and proof of health insurance (or intent to apply for Med-Quest).

Link to application: work-trade application 2019

Or cut and paste application below into email.

Description for ʻĀina Exotics Farm Work-Trade

We are looking for a long-term resident caretaker for as early mid-March 2019.

This is a beginning farm (6 years old), in the mid-term stages of landscaping, and acquiring plant diversity, vegetable gardening, fruit tree planting, and raising and selling nursery plants. At this point, we are not selling our produce or fruits regularly, but we do sell wholesale fruit trees and permaculture plants.

ʻĀina Exotics is a 10.5 acre farmland on the Hāmākua Coast of Hawaiʻi Island (Big Island) owned and run by Adam & Katie Crowe. It is an old plantation property with existing old forest and old ginormous fruit trees. Now, the property is being planted with an abundance of tropical fruit trees, edible perennials, and annual vegetables. We also have 3 long-term housing rentals with awesome renters & their pets, along with our own 2 grazing cows and our cat.

Work-trade expectations:

8-10 hours of work per week. Work will mostly be maintenance related activities like mowing, weed whacking, and weeding.

  • But may alternatively include planting trees, planting seeds, mulching plants, & other farm property maintenance related tasks.
  • There may be opportunities for profit sharing from vegetable, fruit, or fruit trees sales and/or paid work extension based on experience and need.

We are manifesting someone who is:

  • Friendly, intelligent, honest, & easy to communicate with
  • Knowledgeable & intuitive with plants and land
  • Can problem solve (diagnosing issues, fixing mowers, weed whackers)
  • Organized and able follow through with a weekly/monthly schedule
  • In good health and fit, able to complete various manual labor jobs

ʻĀina Exotics Work-Trade Application 2019

name:__________________________   age: __________ sex: ________

current or mailing address:___________________________________________

phone:_______________________ email:__________________________________

desired start date ____________________________________

emergency contact name and number: __________________________________________

Living and farming in the tropics is hard work that requires physical strength and stamina, we ask that anyone who applies be aware of this and ready both physically and mentally to work hard and maintain a positive attitude.

  1. Will you have travel insurance and/or health insurance coverage for your stay while on our farm? Please send a picture or scanned copy of your government ID (or drivers license) and copy of health insurance card).

Those who don’t have can apply for Hawaii State Health Insurance – Hawaii Medquest.

  1. Outline (with resume-style detail) your experiences working outdoors, working on farms, caretaking, etc.
  1. Do you consider yourself physically fit and capable of working 8-10 hours a week of physical labor?
  1. Lists all the types of tools, gardening methods, etc. that you have experience with:
  1. List which methods you would like to learn more about
  1. Other skills, hobbies, interests you want to share with us
  1. Do you have any health-related issues we should know that would affect your work on the farm? Ex. Allergies, previous or current injuries that affect your ability carry weight, bend over, etc.
  1. Where else have you traveled?
  1. List any professional degrees, certificates, studies etc.
  1. Please give us at least 2 references, both professional as possible
  1. Please let us know if you have any other questions or comments below:

By signing here, I certify that all the information above I have included is true and that I have read the information at the top of the application


Signed name:____________________________________

(or your typed name will be considered your signature)


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Our 2nd orchard!

We are proud to say we finally completed the installation of our second orchard. There were a few hiccups and set backs along the way but, with time and planning, and a lot of help from our volunteers we got it done! 30 high-quality/grafted fruit trees (the list is long!) in the ground and electric fence installed to keep the cows out and rotational grazing in. Here are some pics and a video (our you tube on electric netting).