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Showing posts from May, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28

Candy sweet these tomotos were. (Apparently, so sweet I turned into Yoda for a moment there.) Don't let the rain forecast for the end of the week dampen hopes of hitting one of the great markets on schedule! Head on for the Earth Day Market double-hitter or one of the great weekly ones that never fail to satisfy. Seedlings are, most likely, still available, and I daresay early tomatoes may also be available. Head on out and have some foodly fun! Earth Day Market Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28 I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. Come find some good food and fun! 10am to 4pm, Rain or shine *Double feature in the usual location!! Map Kamakura Farmers Market Every day This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair fea

Thursday Snapshot: Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Japan

A little roadside show-off in Yamanakako. Our latest biking-camping trip took us to Yamanakako, one of the Fuji Five Lakes we'd not been to yet, and it did not disappoint. Great camping with friendly folks, good food, beautiful hiking, and some of extraordinary scenery were all to be had. (Drop a note if you want some camping and eating recommendations.) On our way back from a hike, I spotted this little guy - Jack-in-the-pulpit -  near the side of the rode. Well-known as a wild plant in North America, they are not at all unusual here in Japan. Here, though, they tend to take on a more dramatic look - deep purple hoods with stripes and a formidable looking stem - than those I recall at home. Still, it's nice to see a somewhat familiar face when I'm out for a walk.

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21

Selection galore at the UNU Market. Welcome to the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! If you hanker after fresh seasonal food, this is your big chance to hit up some of the best around. Many, too, offer seedlings this time of year as well as sansai (mountain vegetables). Don't miss the chance to savor what is most delicious this time of year! Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi Sunday, May 21 Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find  this little market  in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market! Look for my review in  Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler  soon! 7am - 10am Koenji Farmers Market Saturday, May 20 Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this lit

Thursday Snapshot: Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets make an appearance. Awhile back I mentioned some beet seeds that had not yet sprouted . I worried at that time about my soil, the foundation of my garden and all it produces. Was there something lurking there that I needed to know about? Would I ever see the beets of my dreams? Above is a photo of the beets recently harvested. Imperfect but deliciously beautiful, we have since enjoyed them in salad or raw and dipped in the husband's famous miso mix. My soil, it seems, is not in such bad shape, although I still pay attention to what is happening there. As a good citizen gardener, it's the least I can do these days.

Tambo Art: Help Plant a Painting

Planting rice during the Soma Tambo Art Project. If there is one thing that is worth experiencing in Japan, it is planting rice by hand. There is nothing so exciting, exhilarating or wonderful as stepping into a rice field, seedlings in hand, and setting them in the soft, silty soil. I know I'm a farmer and all that, but rice, it's planting, harvest, eating, and by-products are integral to Japanese culture. A staple part of the Japanese diet, nuka (the bran from polishing rice) is used to ferment vegetables for pickles and help feed the soil of rice fields. Momigara (rice hulls) makes an excellent mulch for fields or compost ingredient . Wara (rice straw) is an important source of silica for rice fields, is part of the traditional process for making natto, and is another excellent mulch for fields as well as a material for weaving. Most farmers don't plant by hand any more, but for events like the Tambo Art Projects in Chiba and Fukushima , it is a chance to glimps

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14

Rockin' times at the UNU Market! Busy times, indeed! My garden is bursting and the markets are bustling. I'm heading up to Soma to help plant their Tambo Art field and contemplating a trip to Chiba next weekend to do the same in Sammu . As I said to someone recently, all the good stuff happens at once. Regardless, don't miss the chance to head on out to one of these great markets and see what the season has in store. It is meant to be a bit rainy, but it means less competition at the market tables and an extra veg wash! Market of the Sun Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old,  Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche) , professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market. 10am to 4pm Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A

Thursday Snapshot: Eurasian Jay

Eurasian Jay at Yamanakako making the serious face. One of the great highlights of our trips home to North America are the birds. I miss the brilliant colors of cardinals and blue jays, in particular, along with the song of the red-winged blackbird. I take every moment possible to go for walks in the woods or pause when I am out and about to see if I can catch a glimpse of them. During our recent biking-camping trip to Yamanakako, we spotted a Eurasian Jay and friend hopping about in the woods. Large and striking in terms of color, we stood and watched as they foraged and flew for some time. They also posed nicely for a photo or two. Granted, we don't know exactly which branch of the family we met, but we feel pleased to have made their acquaintance.

May Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Yasutaka Ichikizaki at the UNU Farmers Market. Goodness, me. It's hard to keep up with Spring. The cherry blossoms are all faded and fallen, and the trees well leafed out. My garden is brimming with greenery, blossoms, and I'm fast running out of room for all the seeds and ideas I have. Farmers are no different, of course, and so head to one of these great markets for a taste of the season and help take some of the load off of their tables! Greenmarket Sumida Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche,  Greenmarket Sumida  aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst. 10am to 4pm Asakusa Station Exit the station and cross the ri

Thursday Snapshot: Volunteer Poppy

Volunteer poppy getting ready to bloom. I used to go to my grandmother's house every Thursday after school. My mother worked at a local insurance office, and that was the one night a week the agent stayed open late. I would walk over the hill from my grade school to her house where there was always a Tupperware container of homemade cookies waiting and my grandmother. Often, one of my great aunts Esther, Ruth, or Viola would be there with my grandmother, talking and crocheting, the smoke from their cigarettes curling up next to their cold glasses of beer. (I am from Wisconsin, after all.) I would sit down to listen, sneak extra cookies, and laugh at their stories. My grandmother grew flowers and vegetables, and I always recall that along the beds that lined the walk to the garage full of daisies and poppies. Surely, there were other flowers, too, but those are the ones I remember most and fondly. So, when these little beauties made their appearance in my garden, I was not

The Importance of Mulch

My tomato seedling and the row cover in the background. I've written before about mulch and why I love it so ; however, I have recently had a nice lesson in its value. Normally, at my community garden , a nearby rice farmer offers us bundles of wara (rice straw) for our use in our gardens. Most of my fellow gardeners use it to keep their watermelon up off the soil, but I used it liberally throughout my garden as a soil protector. It was amazing. The soil underneath was moist and absolutely teaming with life. It did remain cool for rather longer than I would have liked, but I didn't feel that was a serious problem. I knew in the long run that if the worms were happy and present in large numbers, then everything was OK. A close-up of the wara mulch. This year, though, the farmer told our group he wanted to use the wara himself. I wasn't the only disappointed one, but we put a brave face on it. I used old sheets, pillowcases, onsen towels, and a frost protection bl