Skip to main content

Tokyo Garden Update - Winter Crops Sprouting

One of the best parts about today (other than speaking with friends and family back home celebrating Christmas) was peeking into the row covers and seeing little tiny sprouts looking back!

We planted just under 360 seeds on December 13th in freshly tilled soil. This time of year calls for leafy green vegetables that can withstand the chilly nights (dipping a tad bit below freezing on occasion) and short hours of sunlight. (It's dark dark about 5pm, and doesn't get light until about 7am.) I'd had a few moments of stomach-dropping doubt when I didn't see any sprouts the past few visits. And while the little guys are difficult to see in the photo at left the resulting sigh of relief and shared smile with the Takashi's as we peeked in made it well worth the wait.

Here's what we planted:
  • Pak Choi - one of the many tasty Asian greens that are perfect in stir fry or salad.

  • Komatsuna - A tasty Japanese leafy green named after Tokyo's Kamatsu River it has a nutty spicy flavor, and we can't wait to chomp into it. This article gives a fascinating history of local vegetable varieties, including Komatsuna. My garden is just off the map to the west past Mitaka.

  • Karashina - We put in two kinds of green and one kind of red. Karashina resembles mizuna somewhat in appearance, but has a zippier taste that has made it a favorite in our house salads. Like mizuna, karashina can also be added to nabe, oden, and miso for a nice touch of green.

  • Edible Chrysanthemums - I don't actually know much about these, except that they are edible. I bought some once and we added it to our salad mix, and the taste was a bit bitter but the leaf shape was nice.

  • Spinach - We planted two kinds of spinach to see what we would get. One seed was rounded, and the other seed had little spikes on it that were uncomfortably pokey even for the short time I held them in my hand.

The Takashi's recommend the use of black plastic mulch. Just like any mulch it keeps the soil warm, keeps down weeds, and retains moisture. We didn't use it over the summer, but it seemed like a good choice given the low temps and short sunlight for this time of year. All of this was topped off with perforated plastic to create a long mini hoophouse tunnel. We'll see how it all goes!

Comments

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