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Showing posts from July, 2014

Thursday Snapshot: Praying Mantis in the Garden

Watch out! Praying mantis on the hunt. This little fellow was spotted roaming about near my new garden in Kanagawa. Tiny but fierce and ready to feast on any unwanted critters that come near my tomatoes, beans, ginger, and zucchini. There's plenty of places for him to hide as I've left many things grow around my cardboard garden in an attempt to see what will happen. So far, things are responding well to their external green companions, enjoying the shade, pollinators, and other beneficials like this guy.

Compost: How to make it

Our lovely compost bowl. Second in a series on compost - what it is, how to do it, and how to use it. A special entry for urban growers will also be included along with a list of further resources. Compost usually begins in the kitchen. A bowl lined with newspaper (carbon) gets filled up with vegetable an fruit scraps (nitrogen). This in turn gets transferred to a bucket also lined with newspaper on the porch. The newspaper provides carbon, but it helps absorb liquids, which keeps the bucket and bowl relatively tidy. The bowl is turned upside down to empty it and the newspaper lands on top to make a nice lid. This hides it from the watchful eye of our neighborhood crows and makes it less shocking for visitors. The bucket in turn gets transferred to a bin near the garden. In Tokyo, my two bins were made of chicken wire and poles, which allowed air and water to move through freely. In Michigan, the bins were made of old pallets, which also allowed air and water to move through f

Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th

A young farmer at Nagoya's Organic Farmers Market. As Obon Season approaches even the regularly scheduled markets begin to waiver a bit. Traditionally a time to return to ancestral homes to welcome the ghosts of ancestors, it is a season of traveling and welcoming, feasting and remembering. Farmers especially begin to turn their attention to preparing for relatives returning from cities or the afterlife, as the case may be, who often come back to their home, the family farm. It is a precious time for families, and as such, it means regular markets get rescheduled and vendors may be scarce. The proceeds from the field land on their table at home. Do venture out, but check the schedule to make sure you find the tomato you dream of and the bag of tsurumurasaki before it disappears! Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama Every Friday A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fre

Thursday Snapshot: Yamayuri or Mountain Lilies

Yamayuri (mountain lily) snapped recently on a trail near our house.  Yamayuri (mountain lilies) are some of the most dramatic of Japan's wildflowers. The end of rainy season marks the end of ajisai ( hydrangea ), another native plant here, and the beginning of these tall, slim beauties. Their time will be fleeting, but well worth the trek out to the mountains and foothills to catch a glimpse of them lighting up the forest floor. A close-up of the decadent bloom.

Compost: A Primer

My compost bins when I arrived at our new place. Compost is a gardener and farmers gold , and is probably one of the best things we can do for our planet much less our soil. Yet, for many gardeners it remains something of a mystery. The questions I often hear are: How do I make it? How do I use it? What exactly is so great about it? What can I compost? Here’s a quick primer to get folks started on making their own and putting it to good use.  What is compost? Compost is essentially a crumbly black soil-like material that results when organic matter (leaves, food waste, fish bones, coffee grounds and the filters, grass clippings, etc.) is broken down by assorted organisms living in the soil. The process tends to be rather slow, but like many good things, it is worth the wait. A teaspoon of compost, according to Lowenfels and Lewis in their classic, Teaming with Microbes, contains “up to a billion bacteria, 400 to 900 feet (150 to 300 meters) of fungal hyphae, 10,000 to 50,000 pr

Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 19th and Sunday, July 20th

Garlic ready to plant or eat!  Goodness me, this weekend is jam-packed with markets all around the region! Don't let a little rain hold you back from heading on out to find some of the best the summer has to offer from some of the region's niftiest growers and producers. Grab a hat, a backpack, and see what glorious foodly fun you can find! Ebisu Market Sunday, July 20th Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) It's worth noting, too, that  Do One Good , an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiting to go home with you! 11am to 5pm Map Koenji Farmer's Market Saturday, July 20th A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of th

Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets for Saturday, July 12th and Sunday, July 13th

Hands on good veg at Futamatagawa Farmers Market! A lovely weekend of blue sky, breeze, and somewhat high temperatures marks the beginning of summer in the Kanto region! Farms and market gardens everywhere are pleased as punch and the harvest bounty to be found at markets and chokubaijo's alike will be proof. Don a hat, grab a backpack, and head on out to find all you need and more for a week of foodly fun and deliciousness! Market of the Sun Saturday, July 12th and Sunday, July 13th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets,  Market of the Sun  professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market. 10am to 4pm No map but step out of Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama Every Friday A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station

Pickling Power: Asazuke Recipe at Ecotwaza!

As temperatures rise and garden bounty increases, asazuke (morning pickles) are the perfect savory solution. No cooking means no heat in the kitchen and they are an easy way to make use of all the garden or market has to offer. A recent batch using i ngen (green beans) went rather well, if I do say so myself. Rhubarb has also been a fun one to try, it's natural tang pleasantly balanced by the salt and a bit of sliced onion. Get the full recipe over at Ecotwaza and get pickling!

July Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets

Good fun and good veg at the Nagoya Organic Farmers Market! Summer is well on its way it would seem. Tomatoes, eggplants, and garlic are making appearances at farmers markets and chokubaijos everywhere. Late June and early July are excellent times to stock-up on onions, too, and the red variety seem to be the new hot item. I've made about a zillion batches of asazuke with them and some snazzy cucumbers: beautiful and tasty! This month only promises more fun with sweet corn storming on the scene with green beans leading the way. Oh, the bounty. Take an extra bag to the market! Tokaidaigakumae Organic Market Saturday, July 5th This fledgling market is worth a visit, particularly for those out in this neck of the woods, not only for the diverse selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, but for the awesome venue. Ginger and Pickles is easily one of the best little secrets around, and visitors can find both excellent local produce and some scrumptious vegan fare. Roll in early