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The Friends of Pearl City Garden Center is holding an action-packed expo for garden enthusiasts as well as budding gardeners of all ages. Master gardeners will share advice on hot composting and earth-friendly pest control, keiki can enjoy hands-on plant fun, and plants will be available for sale and giveaways.

The center is partnering with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and several local non-profit organizations to hold the gardening expo. The free event will take place on Saturday, May 11, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Pearl City Urban Garden Center at 955 Kamehameha Highway. Register online.

“Gardening is a great family activity that can save you money and foster a healthy, sustainable lifestyle,” said Kalani Matsumura, a CTAHR junior extension agent. “Our garden is a resource for the community to help people learn to love and care for their gardens, no matter what size.”

Gardening benefits everyone

Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Workshops led by experts from the Urban Garden Center and Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation will teach participants a variety of useful techniques, such as hot composting and vermicomposting and making homemade, earth-friendly remedies for common garden pest problems. Hot topic talks will have the latest information on invasive pests such as the coconut rhinoceros beetle, little fire ant, Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death and Naio thrips. These invasive species are threatening our island, gardens and lifestyles. Master gardeners and UH “plant doctors” will be ready to answer plant-related questions. People may bring photos, as well as samples from their gardens in a container or sealed bag.

“One of the key pests to watch out for is the coconut rhinoceros beetle, which is a huge concern in the Pearl City peninsula,” said Kailee Lefebvre, outreach specialist of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response. “Backyard gardeners can be the first line of defense in detecting the presence of these insects that could cause incredible harm to our environment.”

Keiki will learn how to grow plants from seed through fun, hands-on activities. New gardeners can kickstart their gardens via the mini plant sale with native, Polynesian introduced, edible, succulent, drought-tolerant and medicinal plants. There will be door prizes, giveaways and refreshing coconut-based food and drink samples. The event’s goal is to give everyone something useful to take home—even beneficial worms!

“Gardeners can help preserve native Hawaiian plants and species that rely on them,” said Erin Bishop, outreach specialist of the Oʻahu Invasive Species Committee, a CTAHR partner. “By learning about invasive pests and how to report them, gardeners are part of the island-wide early detection network. They can keep their own yards safe and stop the spread of harmful pests before they jump the fence into our watersheds.”

The Backyard Gardening Expo is supported by the Friends of Pearl City Urban Garden Center, Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, Mālama Learning Center, Oʻahu Invasive Species Committee, Paradise Beverages, The Home Depot, UH and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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