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Showing posts from July, 2015

August Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Fresh edamame because I'm dreaming of some with cold beer... August rode in on a hot wind and appears to be settling in for the long haul. I will be venturing off to slightly cooler climes to celebrate weddings, birthdays, and lower levels of humidity. My garden here will be loitering, the frogs surely enjoying their freedom from my large feet plodding by. More importantly, though, folks should double check links or have a Plan B before heading to a market this month. The Obon Holidays will result in cancellations and low numbers of vendors. Have fun! Ebisu Market Sunday, August 2nd and Sunday, August 16th 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 dog

Tokyo and Yokohama Farmers Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 25th and Sunday, July 26th

Charming summer bouquets at the Ebisu Market. Summer seems to have arrived at long last draped in sultry sun and glorious sunsets. The tomatoes are rolling in from the garden, and those darn zucchini keep eluding me. I pulled in another one the other day about twice the size of my foot, and that's saying something. While you won't find gargantuan zucchini at the markets, you will find tomatoes, cucumbers, and plenty of other wonderful summer delights. Don't miss the chance to do something love and fun in the heat that also happens to result in something scrumptious later on. See you at the market! Kamakura Farmers Market Every day A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there. 7am until sold out Map Futamatagawa F

Thursday Snapshot: Possibly Blue-Eyed Grass in the Garden

My community garden plot has been full of surprises. There were the tulips, a volunteer onion, and a lovely cherry tomato plant. The best surprise, though, were these little bloomers skimming the Northwest corner. Delicate blossoms that started in late Spring and greeted me even this morning when I ran down to check on things before the heat of the day firmly set down its foot. A native of the Midwest, Blue-Eyed Grass is a favorite of mine from home. How it got here exactly I don't know, nor do I know absolutely that it is the flower I think it is, but for now I'm choosing to believe that's what it is.

The Case of the Extra Eggplant

The mysterious eggplant in the old potato bed. The latest in the series of unseasonable typhoons we've endured recently as well as my schedule have kept me out of the garden. The rain seemed endless and whenever it would let up, I'd have something else scheduled that I couldn't change. Were the tomatoes ripe? Had the soba gone to seed? Had the new soba sprouted? Would I find another giant zucchini or cucumber waiting for me? How was the popcorn ? My husband, though, scurried down once or twice during a break in the rain to get greens for our salads. One day he took photos. "How's the popcorn?" I asked, reaching for the phone to see the pictures. "It's out of control," he said as he started making the salad for our lunch. Sure enough, it was. The popcorn, Smoke Signals , is said to grow to about 8 feet in height, and these plants are living up to their reputation. It loomed in the back of the photo, just behind the now empty potato bed.

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 18th and Sunday, July 19th

Don't miss Nakaiya Farm at the Ebisu Market. All the way from Saitama, their tomatoes - fresh and dried, large and small - are the best. Summer is well underway and now is the time to dash out with a backpack and load up on favorites. This weekend is one of the more jam-packed farmers market weekends, so take your pick of delectable markets and delightful growers and producers. Nippori and Oiso are two of my favorites, and perhaps where I'll be roaming about if I'm not in Chiba volunteering at a tambo art project . There is way too much fun to be had in the summer! Ebisu Market Sunday, July 19th 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

Thursday Snapshot: Goats on the Farm in Tokyo

Who doesn't love a good cabbage leaf? It is with great pleasure that I introduce two of my replacements at t he farm in Tokyo where I used to help out . Above are May and Satsuki, the two lovely rental goats who are spending six months munching their way through the grasses and weeds in the kuri (chestnut) grove at the farm. Granted, they have eaten a few of the kuri branches, too. "They needed pruning," said C-chan with a shrug of her shoulders and a small laugh when we talked about it. Nibbling the cabbage leaf. Rental goats are part of a new trend in farming. ( This article at Japan for Sustainability offers a nice overview of the idea.) They eat weeds, do a little fertilizing, and are generally friendly. Put up some fencing and a small shelter, and the hooved work crew will happily settle in. May and Satsuki lounging between shifts. May and Satsuki come when C-chan calls, and they enjoy a cabbage leaf or two when it's in season. The other night we

My Article about Hideki Mochizuki and Atsugi Brewery in Metropolis Magazine

Hideki Mochizuki and one of his brews. I confess that I have taken full advantage of the craft beer trend in Japan. My articles in Modern Farmer , Metropolis Magazine , and Beer Zen Journal required painstaking research into the breweries, their beers, and the food they choose to serve with them. What delicious and fascinating suffering it was, I must say. My latest piece, The Craft of Beer at Metropolis Magazine , introduces Atsugi Beer and its brewer, Hideki Mochizuki. It was a real pleasure not just to drink his beer, but to roam about the brewery itself with him. It was so much fun, and I left thinking about brewing beer at home. I'm over that for the moment, but it's a sign of real passion and skill when another person and their work inspire that feeling. Try it for yourself and see what happens.

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 11th and Sunday, July 12th

Ebisu Market rocking it in the rain. Tsuyu (rainy season) may be just a tad bit out of control. Seriously. A whole week of rain seems a bit much. The garden has turned into a jungle, and even the frogs are seeking higher ground. (Wait for a photo of those little cuties up high in my seven foot tall heirloom popcorn !) However, it does make excellent weather for canning , fermenting , and otherwise trying various food preservation methods . Plus, all those farmers are still making their way to the markets, so you might as well go say hello! Market of the Sun Saturday, July 11th and Sunday, July 12th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets,  Market of the Sun  professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to have a bit of an Italian theme, too. Cheese, anyone?. 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 Kachid

Thursday Snapshot: Soba (buckwheat) in the Garden

Soba going strong between the board path and the old potato bed. It has been a busy month of reading for me. I reviewed a copy of Elizabeth Murphy's Building Soil for Permaculture Magazine (subscribers will see it first, so I won't give anything away except to say read it) and read Gary Nabhan's Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land for another project I'm currently working on. Both were inspiring and action-packed (in a farmy-gardeny sort of fashion) and, as often happens, had a direct impact on my work in the garden. Murphy recommended soba (buckwheat) as a cover crop for its rapid growth, attractiveness to pollinators, and because it pulls phosphorous up from the soil. (Phosphorous is handy for photosynthesis and other growing abilities that plants have.) It grows densely, too, which means weeds have a hard time joining the party. Buckwheat's lovely white blossoms attract pollinators who will also hopefully have a wander over to the cucumbers shortly ther

Review: Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Climate by Gary Nabhan

Cover image via Chelsea Green Publishing to help you find it in the bookstore. I picked up Gary Nabhan's book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty (Chelsea Green, 2013) while doing research for another project. Nabhan, a recognized pioneer in the local-food movement, researcher, and teacher, is a fount of knowledge. This book is just one of 24 he's written covering various angles of the topic food and that doesn't include the countless articles and presentations he's produced as well. I've got one more book on my shelf and my eye on one or two others. Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land is full of straight-talk about climate change and its impacts along with ways to contend with them. Nabhan is quite right in pointing out that our understanding of how to grow food is going to have to change as the climate shifts around us. The news about climate is not uplifting, as we well know, but Nabhan s

July Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

Because I'm already dreaming of heirloom apples... Melbourne's Slow Food Market Gracious me. Tsuyu (rainy season) appears to be giving us a last blast this week before Summer ushers itself officially on stage. The air is veritably dripping with moisture and everything has gone sticky. I am now mildly worried that my umeboshi (pickled plums) will not dry properly, but we'll see what happens. I'll cross that pickle bridge when I get to it. Meanwhile, the markets are on this month as always, so don't be shy to head out. There's nothing to relieve a bout of humidity like a bag full of fresh vegetables and a good chat with a grower. I'll see you there! Ebisu Market Sunday, July 5th and Sunday, July 19th 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 you

Thursday Snapshot: Ajisai (Hydrangea) in Bloom

Ajisai (hydrangea) making its little fist of joy. Tsuyu (rainy season) is very nearly defined by this lovely bloom. A native plant of Japan and Asia in general, hydrangea have never been a favorite of mine. Frankly, I always thought they looked rather stupid. I couldn't understand the fuss over these basketball size blossoms that had no character or charm. Even after moving to Japan I'd somehow managed to remain indifferent to these flowers, smiling and making the appropriate noises when others pointed them out to me. They were more interesting, but still a bit dumb, I thought while swatting mosquitoes as my companion would gesticulate enthusiastically at the blooms. But it wasn't until hiking in Daisetsuzan Koen that I fell in love. Lace cap hydrangea during a recent mountain hike. We were hiking next to a small stream, winding our way through a narrow canyon when I happened to look up. There, high in the rock wall above me, I saw a round blue ball of flower