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Thursday Snapshots: Minamisanriku Garden
Garden in Minamisanriku, Tohoku.
Today is Thanksgiving in my home country, and I pondered for quite some time about what photo to put here. I'm homesick this year for the holiday more than I ever have been in our nearly five years here. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but my heart pines to be with all sides of my crazy, loving, and weird family.
Close-up of the squash.
However, I also thought about others who would give anything to be with those they love. That would be folks from Washington County, Illinois, recently devastated by tornadoes, people in the Philippines ravaged by the recent typhoon, and those still living, literally, in the aftermath of the 2011 triple disaster. My heart goes out to all of them today and always, and while I know they grieve and pine, too, they also find hope and carry on as best they can.
Me with the genki gardener!
And here's one gardener I had the pleasure of meeting this summer while volunteering in Minamisanriku. Settled on a high hill he lives in temporary housing and grows his vegetables along and up a chain link fence just out his back door. I know temperatures have dropped since these pictures were taken and the squash have long since been consumed, but it still inspires me. And it makes me thankful to know those I love are just a phone call away.
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 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
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