Skip to main content

My Little Garden Begins



We've still had no word on a community garden space, and while I'm not giving up hope I am beginning to focus on growing things on our balcony in back. (I'm also plotting - pun entirely intended - on growing things on the front balcony, too.) There's  plenty of interest in the building and with some of the other English teachers, so I think we're going to go for it. 

The previous tenants graciously left me some pots, potting soil, and some seeds for dill, basil, and rosemary. Yesterday, I purchased (at least I'm pretty sure this is what I got) seeds for beans, peas, and cardinal climber. (I put in some of the Russian kale seeds I brought, but I did see a big fat mourning dove on the power lines above me this morning and I do have some concerns about raiders. I'm hopeful, but I may start some other seedlings inside, too.) I also picked up some seedlings of flat-leaf parsley, nasturtiums, johnny-jump-ups, and swiss chard. While I really wanted to purchase one of everything (as I do each spring), I decided it would be best to stick with things that we like to eat. (I know I can't eat cardinal climber, but I also want to attract some pollinators.)

The nursery is a nice small one with a good selection, and it's roughly four or five blocks away. (Tokyo is not organized in a grid at all, but that gives an idea of the distance I walk.) Mostly flowers - annuals as well as perennials - with a handful of vegetables, houseplants, and some small flowering and fruiting trees. I recognize most things, but there are others that I have no idea what they are. They might be normal even for the States, but since my focus has always been mostly on growing vegetables and/or native plants I don't recognize some. I'll try to include photos sometime later. 

Container gardening is something I haven't had to do for quite some time, and I've never tried to do it in earnest, either. I won't be able to provide all of our vegetables, but I'll put a dent in things, I think. Since we live in an apartment I can't compost like I did at home, so I'm going to have to think about this a bit. I don't want to use conventional fertilizer so I've been stirring our coffee grounds and tea leaves into the pots on a daily basis. Other things - orange peel, cabbage leaves and cores, stubs of assorted unknown greens, etc. - go either in the burnables bin or a little bowl of items I'll cook up to make broth later. At the moment, my idea is to cook them up and then bury them in a big pot of dirt and see what happens. Without worms and other critters though, I'm not sure how far I'll really get. Any advice from folks out there? 

Comments

Anonymous said…
you're in Japan - seaweed is a great fertilizer. Either chopped up and put right in the soil, or tea made by steeping it for a day or two. Vermiculite and perlite are the container gardener's friends. Good luck!
Woody said…
Joan - How about a worm composter? Mary can give you pointers. She has a small tub under her sink.
Woody said…
How about a worm composter? Mary has a small tub under our sink that she dumps food scraps in, and newspaper strips, for air or texture.

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro