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Hadano Early Winter Garden Update and Ramble

Living mulch of volunteer kales and norabo between cabbage plants.
A new season is well underway despite unseasonably warm temperatures. I just removed the rogue eggplant (planted by a friendly neighbor gardener without my knowledge), which means nearly all of the summer vegetables are gone. It seemed a good time to offer an update on the garden.

The cabbage and broccoli seedlings are lifting the row cover up some, and soon I'll have to remove it. Under their broad leaves an assortment of kales and norabo spread a green carpet that I harvest almost daily. I'd laid the dried stems from this past season's plants on the soil and let them compost. This was exactly what I had hoped for: a living, edible mulch pretty as a picture. The leaves are well nibbled by other creatures, but I'm happy to share a little.

A nice volunteer crop of parsley has sprung up where I again laid the dried stems from a spent plant. It has popped up in a few other places, too, and those that jumped my bamboo fence have been brought back into the fold.

The second round of chioggia beets in well-sprouted, so I added two rows of a long cylindrical beet at the east end of the broccoli. Why not? The worst that happens is they do not sprout or are eaten by the furry caterpillar that emerged when I watered them. The best, of course, is a round of delectable beets on my table in the next few months.

I was inspired by an older couple out in their garden the other night. She passed him pea seedlings pot by pot as the sky turned pink and watched as he carefully set them in the soil.  I then dug out a bag of purple podded peas I got while on our Shimanami Kaido trip. The seeds are a couple of years old and have been imperfectly stored at best, but I am optimistic. The other peas I planted may be preparing to sprout, but it has been two weeks and there is little sign of them. Just like this election, though, I am hopeful but prepared for the worst.

The cosmos and straw flowers are blooming nicely. Cosmos in Japan are a signature autumn flower, and so I planted two because they remind me of home. I think of my mother's garden and my own Michigan garden, both far away in time, place and memory. However, those wide happy blossoms never fail to raise my spirits.

Straw flowers have, I believe, no particular significance here, but they are happy and bright. Too often, I think, gardeners and farmers forget that joy is integral to our work. We take satisfaction in the plentiful harvest, tidy rows, and well-laid plans, but it is just as important to remind ourselves of the inherent beauty we cultivate and are capable of crafting together with Mother Nature. I need to grow things that are pleasing to the eye and refreshing to the soul. They are like a tiny oasis for my heart in a place that already feeds me in multiple ways.


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