Skip to main content

The Popcorn Harvest

Vegetables wait for no one. This is a lesson I learn every year, every season, and every crop. The vegetable does not care if I have a blog post or article to write, daily household chores to do, an appointment to keep, a phone call home to make, or in my most recent lesson - a flight to Hokkaido to catch to visit friends and hike for a week. Working with the weather, the soil, and their own biological clock, they do what they must most single-mindedly.

At home in Michigan my popcorn crops stay on the stalk until perhaps late September or October. There they dry in the long summer days with an occasional dousing by storms and showers. I also watered quite religiously there while here I barely water at all. Our hose reached the garden and a rain barrel made daily watering a breeze. Here, the spigot is on the other side of the farm, and I must circumnavigate the eggplant field with its sometimes floppy sorghum border, blueberry bushes, the tomato and bean fields as well as a double row of magnificent sunflowers that rings the farm. Not so arduous, but with the heat and an army of mosquitoes, weeding and harvesting, I lacked the gumption more often than not.

At this moment my theory is that the long, hot dry days characteristic of the weeks after the rainy season perhaps sped the ripening and drying process. I don't know Dakota Black well, so it may be something with the variety, too. Regardless, my umeboshi were replaced by long dark cobs of Dakota Black the morning our plane took off.

Most of the cobs are a deep rich black, but two are variegated with specks of purple and lavender and one is nearly all white. Perhaps cross-pollination occurred - most likely with the Takashi's corn - or I wonder if heirloom seeds sometimes simply produce an occasional rogue fruit. I mean, why not? Humans do.

My other great surprise that morning? Well, there are two. A successful harvest at last (if drying goes well) from the garden is much-needed for my gardening morale. My zucchini trials and some trouble with the Brandywines brought me down a bit, I have to say. This harvest means a great deal. The second? Spying a fat Shishigatani squash happily growing while husking the corn!


Kevin said…
I would love to get my hands on some of your seeds. (popcorn) if you have any available. I love popcorn and we tried two years in a row, but the monkeys ate all the big ones and left us with almost nothing.

And still. they say their "too busy singing to put anybody down."
Those darn monkeys! I'll bring you some seeds if we can come. If we can't come, I'll gladly send you some along. I wonder how you could monkey-proof the beds?

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