Skip to main content

Back in the Garden Again

We are back home in Tokyo after a fantastic month at home in America. Exchanging one wintry landscape for one clearly about to burst into spring feels delightful in a way, but we're already more than homesick for our family and friends. One of the beautiful things international living teaches is that there are amazing people everywhere in the world. It is heartening and humbling to meet people on many continents, in places large and small, urban and rural, that are so wonderful.

It is also, at times, heart-breaking. Farewells are inevitable and the least favorite part of any adventure. The places we have been lucky enough to live and visit - England, Wisconsin, Kazakhstan, Michigan, Illinois, and now Japan - have been brought to life by the people we have met there and shared time with. A part of us remains in those places and a bit of those places also always travels with us.

*Another snapshot of the landscape of my heart: While the accompanying photo is clearly not my best work (notice the reflection of my hand holding the camera), it is a view I've known my whole life. Looking west from my mother's kitchen through the pines to spot the last rays of a glorious sunset is nearly a family past time. When we moved to this house those pines didn't impede the view in the least, and now they provide a contrasting grid-work to the brilliant clouds. It's part of where my inspiration for international adventures began, and where I first learned the pleasures of growing food as well as eating it.


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