Friday, December 3, 2010

Tokyo Garden Update: Late Fall

It's hard to believe December is already here. Not only are the winter crops all in at the farm, but harvest is going in earnest. Two crops of greens - shungiku and santosai - are already finished. The arugula is just about done, and we harvested the first of the wasabina this past Tuesday. The broccoli and cabbage are taking their own sweet time to fill out as needed, but I'm happy to wait. Komatsuna rolls in daily to fill our cart twice over and my salad bowl multiple times thereafter. Kabu and daikon are jumping on the bandwagon, too, so I've got no complaints. I should turn green with all the leaves I'm eating these days.

My own garden, is a slightly different story. Most of my own seeds and seedlings went in a bit late or sporadically. Our vacations and traveling with multiple rounds of guests meant that I devoted any free time at the farm to the farmers and their crops. My theory is that I don't attempt to make a living from my garden, so their fields are a higher priority.

The benefit of late planting though, is a later harvest. My arugula, shungiku, and first plantings of komatsuna are just coming into their own. (Later plantings are also coming up nicely, too.) All of my daikon are plumping up nicely, and daily removal of cabbage worms means my kole crops have minimal leaf damage. Both my green and purple karashina (I've mentioned my penchant for purple?) are doing beautifully, and their nutty leaves (flavor not character) make a pretty and delicious addition to our salads.

My kale plants - started late and set out late - appear to be happy for the most part. The Red Russian seems particularly pleased with my fall experiment with its big leaves and fairly robust growth given the short hours of daylight and the cold nights. The curly, though, does not seem as thrilled. Most of those plants remain small and even sport a yellow leaf or two. This may mean they would prefer to be set out earlier for a bit more growing time or perhaps covered against the cold. I'm not quite sure yet. (The photo here was actually taken a couple weeks ago. They're even bigger yet, I just realized, but this gives an idea of what's happening.)

The yacon, as discussed, seems to be preparing for harvest, and the nira have gone to seed. The bergamont on the southern side of the rhubarb (all lined up in the westernmost bed) have turned a ruddy red color. The flavor is even stronger than regular bergamont, but I adore the shade they've chosen for the season. Interestingly, the bergamont on the north side of the rhubarb is still green. (I chose the photo up top as it shows all three shades: green, red, and heading red. As of today, it's all red.)

The rhubarb looks, like the yacon, happy as a lark. The leaves are lush and plenty. Giving in to a desire to make jam, I cut a few stems. The plant seems none the worse for wear, and so we'll see what happens. I've not made the jam yet, but I've got a new canner on my top shelf just crying out for a first go-round.

The lemon balm, mint, sage, and oregano all responded extremely well to a good pruning last month, and are full of new growth. Inspired by The Alternative Kitchen Garden, I planted some borage, too. I've known for a long time that it's blooms are beloved by many a pollinator, and reading Emma Cooper's entry about it was the last straw. It also seemed a good idea given the assorted challenges of this past summer. I'm hoping to create a welcome zone for pollinators and predators alike, and borage will undoubtedly help.

The lantanna, I noticed the other day, are also going great guns. Planted maybe only this spring, they are still blooming these days and have woody stems about as thick as my pointer finger. They look quite nice with the silvery-grey leaves of the neighboring lavender plant, and both are popular with passing pedestrians of the human and bug type.


bastish said...

I want your cabbage worms to feed to my chickens.

It seems great to have the ability to still have things growing. We too have some things planted (nozawana, cabbage, carrots, spinach) but it will be another six months before the snow melts and we can harvest.

Have you been doing any pickling/preserving?

I still want that popcorn! We will plant it next year. I spent some time making raised beds that can easily have fences put around them to protect them from monkeys. I plan to put your popcorn there.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

If I could send you those worms I would happily do so, Kevin. Little buggers...Funny you should ask about pickling and preserving. We just dug into a first batch of kimchi (yummy, although could be spicier) and I just did up a batch of yuzu-ginger marmalade. Also yummy, and I was pleased to not have to use the pectin. Sauerkraut may be next on the agenda, although I've got plans for some apple butter, too.

I'll save popcorn seeds for you without a doubt. And if the monkeys get it again, I'll just be your supplier. How about that?