Just before we left Osaka to return home to Tokyo, we visited a farmer's market I'd heard about while we there in January. I was able to make it to three others, but since it was just after New Year's, many of the markets weren't open then. (New Year's in Japan is like Christmas in the West. Essentially, everything shuts down so people can celebrate the holiday with family and friends.) I was also eager to get back into the groove of markets here since we'd spent February in America and the earthquake and my leg injury threw off most of our other plans for March.
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