05
Dec
14

Summer and autumn

Work dominated this period and I was unable to post over the past few months. I hope to make up for it through this and subsequent posts.

Firstly, the water melon in planter raised my spirits initially but brought me down with a thump!

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Water-melon in planter

It grew well and I rigged up supports and a plastic sheet to support the water melon. Unfortunately I made a small mistake – I did not cut a hole in the plastic sheet! I remembered this and rushed into my garden at night because rain had fallen that day. I was too late – see the photo below.

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Spoiled!

Water had already accumulated and the bottom had become rotten. Lesson learnt – never forget nature. It can rain any time and make sure you protect your plant well.

I cut out the offending part; the melon was developing into a nice pink color. I removed the seeds and had preserved them for the next year. Another lesson I learned is that although three to five flowers developed into fruit, you can probably grown only one melon in a planter since all the nutrition will taken up by the growing melon. Ah well, there’s always next year and better sense will prevail.

Let me run through summer’s offerings quickly.

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Eggplant, tomatoes, and green pepper

I had a good harvest of tomatoes and eggplants last summer, but green pepper was/is extraordinary. Although it is 10 degrees Celsius outside, the green pepper plants are still thriving. I picked about eight or so yesterday and don’t have the heart to pull them up and dispose of them.

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Formosa Lily and Wisteria

The Formosa Lily turned up unattended at various locations around my house (this one is at the entrance). I picked up hundreds of seeds, and am waiting to try them out in India next year.  I love the Wisteria too, with its delicate fragrance. I have two small Wisteria trees in my garden; though the flowers look good, the leaves grow so furiously during the growing season that you need to trim them almost every day; else they will take over the garden.

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Hosta or Plantain Lily (called Giboshi in Japanese)

The Hosta with decorative green leaves and bunches of white flowers were in abundance too. The tomato plant in front is in a planter. I have two varieties of Hosta planted in the same bed. The other variety has colorful foliage.

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Morning Glory

The Morning Glory flowers grew all over the fence. I am afraid they dropped seeds into my neighbors’ gardens and they should have plenty of morning glory plants next summer – I’m not sure whether they’ll be pleased or displeased.

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Figs

My fig tree gave me great joy this year. I must have harvested about 25-30 delicious figs through autumn this year. I had to cut a lot of the branches since my garden is quite compact; in the process, I must have reduced the harvest.

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Ginger Lily

My favorite summer flower is the Ginger Lily. The fragrance, especially when the wind blows on summer nights is, divine. I plan to dig up some roots and give them to several of my friends. I have already planted them in about three places around my house. They just keep multiplying!

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Hibiscus

My friend, Toyama-san, gave me a potted Hibiscus in summer. It gave a pretty nice flower; the season for this plant is short. I moved it inside the house as soon as the weather turned cold. I‘m hoping it will survive the winter in Japan.

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Red Spider Lily (Higanbana in Japanese) and Sweet Olive (Kinmokusei in Japanese)

These flaming red flowers grow only in a particular time of the year in Japan; they are found planted near graveyards. They plant them on graves because it shows a tribute to the dead. The bulbs are considered poisonous and keep away pests.

The Sweet Olive tree on the right side blooms with bunches of golden flowers and gives off a fragrant smell. This is probably the largest tree in my garden. You can also see the Rose of Sharon (pink flowers) to the left side of this tree.

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Japanese anemone (shumeigiku in Japanese)

These pink flowers grow on long thin stems and sway gently in the air. I have had these for more than 8 years now. They bloom dutifully every year without needing much care.

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Toad lily

Here are a bunch of toad lily plants that prospered in autumn. The individual flowers are very colorful and good to look at. The plants do multiply and spread very fast every year; so I need to remove the excess and control their growth every year.

That’s all for this post, folks! Have a great day!

08
Aug
14

water melon in a planter

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Water melon plant grown from seed

I planted water melon seeds brought over from India, raised about 6 saplings, kept two for myself and gave off the rest to two of my friends to grow in their gardens.

I planted one of the saplings in a planter which grew vigorously (see photo above). About 10 days ago a fruit appeared. I immediately moved the planter to a better spot, drove stakes around the planter and supported the fruit with a plastic sheet shaped like a hammock.

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Support for water melon – a crude hammock

I’m hoping that this support will hold up the water melon so that it grows to full size. See photo below for present size.

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Water melon in planter today

I presume that this fruit is taking up most of the nutrition produced by the plant because no other fruit has developed in the same planter in spite of several flowers that have bloomed.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that no birds get at the fruit before it ripens.

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Morning glory

In the meanwhile, the first Morning Glory this year has bloomed on my fence. You can catch the full bloom of this flower only before the sun is up. As it gets warmer, the flower closes up and is gone!

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Another variety of the Rose of Sharon

The second variety of the Rose of Sharon has finally appeared. The first one, which I had included  in an earlier post, is shown below.

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First variety of Rose of Sharon

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White flower of eggplant (brinjal)

I am also growing the green variety of eggplant. I was surprised to find white flowers – so I snapped the photo above for reference. The color of the usual eggplant flower is purple.

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Mini tomatoes – growing tall and spreading out

The growth of mini tomatoes has been spectacular this year. I think I succeeded in controlling the growth during various stages. During the early stages, I snipped off the new branches emanating from between the main stem and a branch, and planted them as cuttings to propagate tomato plants. As a result, the  main plants grew tall and stout quickly, yielding plenty of tomatoes. When the height reached around 1.7 m, I snipped off the main stem and allowed the branches to grow sideways and spread out on the nets. This seems to be a good method to follow.

At the moment, I have mini tomato plants (4) in the ground supported by nets, and about three planters with tomato plants that I  propagated. So the harvest of mini tomatoes this year has been wonderful.

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Daily harvests

Finally, here is a photo of a fresh bunch of gladiolus that bloomed last week.

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Gladiolus

With that, I wish you a nice day where ever you are on the globe; happy gardening!

18
Jul
14

growing fruits in my home garden

Why am I writing this blog? I’d like to introduce some of you the pleasures of growing organic vegetables and flowers/fruits; additionally, the photos and dates in this blog serve as valuable reference for me when I plant again next year; and the bonus of course, is make new friends who write from all over the world. About 35 persons from various countries read this blog in one day, and I’m especially happy when somebody puts in a kind word through comments (do you see a bubble and the words “Leave your comment” just below the title? Just click on it and you can leave a comment for me while reading this blog).

I have several fruit trees in my home garden. These include fig, peach, blueberry,  persimmon, Hassaku orange, and melon at various stages of growth. In this post, I will write about melons. But first, some photos of flowers in bloom or have just started blooming.

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Now in bloom – Plumbago

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Yesterday, today and tomorrow – the chameleon-like scented flower has started blooming

Here are some photos of veggies – I thought it would be interesting to do a before-and-after comparison. So the first photo shows what the vegetable plants looked like when just planted and when they were fully matured – the cucumber plants are almost over and are likely to be removed soon.

Bell pepper

Bell pepper just planted May first week

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Bell pepper in full growth – July second week

Tomatoes

Tomato plants – May first week

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Tomato plants – July 2nd week; nearly two meters tall

Eggplant

Eggplant or brinjal plants – May 2nd week

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Eggplant or brinjal plants – July 2nd week; about 1 meter tall and still growing

Cucumber

Cucumber plants – May 1st week

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The same cucumber plants in July 2nd week – nearly 2 m tall and time to go

Lessons learned from growing these four kinds of vegetables this year

1. Remove leaves and branches at the base, especially cucumber leaves that deteriorate quickly,  as early as possible

2. Snip off new branches that appear between stem and branch early so that tomato plants grow tall quickly

3. Expect tomato and cucumber plants to grow to nearly 2 meters. Snip off the main stem at the top to restrict vertical growth.

4. Tomato plants can be propagated very easily by taking the snipped off branches and planting them in fresh soil. (Click on this link to see the earlier post how to multiply tomato plants).

5. Eggplants could be propagated the same way through cuttings, but it was a little harder to do so.

6. Grow the plants at a different location next year.

7. Use root accelerator such as Root-On to promote propagation from cuttings, and use  plastic to cover eggplant cuttings fresh inserted in pots for propagation. This will give humidity and promote growth of roots.

8. Keep off ants from eggplant especially when the eggplants are young (don’t use chemicals or pesticide). Just drive them off everyday – they’ll get tired and relocate!

Water melon seeds

I was in Bangalore, India, until February and carefully saved seeds from a water melon I had eaten. I brought them over to Japan and planted them sometime in June. And fortunately, quite a few sprouted!

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Water melon saplings

I gave some to my friends Toyama-san and Uchiyama-san. I hope their water melon plants are doing as well as mine below.

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Water melon plant in planter

Yes, I am growing it in a deep planter. I will rig up a kind of hammock to support the water melon when it appears! Watch out for future posts. Exciting to grow an Indian water melon in Japan!

Lastly, here are some photos of daily harvests in the last week.

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Daily harvests

Until the next post, have a great day!

06
Jul
14

continuing harvests and introducing a friend

In this post, I’ll continue with photos of my little home garden and also introduce some offerings of a good friend, Toyama-san. First, let us say it with flowers!

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

This is the first Rose of Sharon that has bloomed this year. I love the faint pink and splashes of red in this elegant flower.

Aster

Aster and Begonia

The Asters have bloomed next to the Begonias. I read somewhere that one could propagate Aster through root cuttings. I’ll probably try it soon after the flowers end.

I have already propagated Begonia and will  present some to friends introducing them to the world of flowers, fruits and vegetables!

Petunia

Petunia

I neglected to remove the stubs of Petunias after they faded and found some seeds in pods where the flowers were. I’m going to try raising new plants through these seeds.

In the meanwhile, here are some daily harvests – the fresh tomatoes are delicious!

Daily harvest Daily harvest
Daily harvest Daily harvest

Daily harvests of cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper and eggplant (brinjal)

Now let me introduce my good friend, Toyama-san. He has a large area of land in the same town where I live. He has also started growing vegetables and flowers in earnest – and I’m pleased to introduce some of his offerings here. The photos from here onward are from his field and have been taken by Toyama-san.

 

Toyama'san's garden

From Toyama-san’s garden: Green pepper, eggplant, tomato and cucumber plants

Bitter gourd and morning glory

Bitter gourd and morning glory

These plants rise up on the net and provide a “green cover.” Keeps the room behind the plants cool in the dry summer.

Cat's Tail

Cat’s tail in a planter

Cherries Hibiscus  

Left: Cherries; Right: Hibiscus plant (flowers yet to bloom)

Thanks, Toyama-san. Hope to receive such lovely photos from you in the future too.

Have a great day, and feel free to comment.

17
Jun
14

summer blooms and harvests

Rains are here and so is summer. I have had very good luck with cucumbers this year. Tomatoes and eggplants have flourished too. Here are some flowers in bloom presently.

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Oak leaf hydrangea – in bloom for more than 10 days now

I love this flowering plant. It has given me a lot of cheer for more than 10 days now – the flowers don’t seem to wilt at all as long as I keep the plant happy with water twice a day!

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Gladiolus  – the first blooms this year.

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Another variety of hydrangea – these have just started blooming

 

 

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Close-up of the same flower

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Daily harvests

The day-to-day harvests from my small garden varies as above. Tomatoes especially are delicious when consumed immediately after plucking them.

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Mini tomatoes – just waiting for them to turn red!

I think I should be able to distribute them to neighbors too in about two weeks from now.

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Reproduced mini tomato plants

These are the plants that I reproduced (see last post “how to multiply your tomato plants”) and have presented them to a couple of my friends. I think I have got at least one friend interested in starting up a home garden!

 

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              Offerings from my home garden this week

Until the next post, have a great day!

07
Jun
14

how to multiply your tomato plants

I decided to write about some degree of success I had with multiplying my mini-tomato plants in this post. First, a comparison of the tomato plants planted in end April and beginning June.

TomatoApril TomatoJune

Mini tomato plants April end (left) and June beginning (right)

The plants are about a meter tall and I guess this is about the right time when you can start taking cuttings for reproduction. Look at the corners of branches and you’ll see new ones sprouting out.

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Check for new branches on main stem

Pick those that have about 6 to 7 leaves and at least two branches, and are about 5-10 cm in height.

Make a clean snip with clean scissors, and plunk them into plastic pots with fresh soil.

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Plastic pots with stone covering center hole (L) and clean diagonal cut before planting (R).

I used small flexible plastic pots that I had stored, placed  a stone and filled them up to the top (leaving about 1.5 cm from the top edge) with fresh soil. The important point before planting is to ensure that the cut you make gives a good amount of area for the plant to suck up water and nutrition from the soil – this essentially means you make a diagonal cut. Take a stick and make a hole at the center of the soil-filled pot before you insert the cutting and firm up the soil around it.

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Planted in fresh soil (L) and watered (R)

After inserting the cuttings, water the pots nicely until it drains out from underneath. Then place the tray in a cool place – remember that the cuttings have no root yet. So if you expose them to bright sunlight immediately, they will probably die out. After a couple of days  of regular watering, the plants will stand erect and start developing roots.

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Mini tomato plant transferred to ground

After about 10 days in the pots, I transferred the plants with roots to the ground. Here is one that has grown to give flowers. Try this reproduction method – it is fun.

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Today’s harvest – Cucumber, egg plant, mini tomato, bell pepper 

The Japanese variety of cucumber above, is eaten with the skin. There’s nothing like eating the veggies immediately after plucking them. The mini tomato tasted fabulous!

Meanwhile, geraniums in my house garden entice friends to my garden.

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Geraniums

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More geraniums with a pink variety too

I love these geraniums. They don’t need looking after at all and bloom like crazy in the season. Very easy to reproduce too – just cut the extra branches and shove them into a pot. Within the next 10 days they develop roots.

I was also happy to see a rose bloom in my pot. I moved the rose plants to pots because they became too large and difficult to manage on ground.

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Rose in planter – you make my day!

Meanwhile, I had urn orchids blooming at the entrance to my house. The leaves are good to look at too, and strike a good contrast to the pink flowers.

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Urn orchid

The tri-colored Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in planter bloomed giving off a delicate, pleasant scent. The same plant in my neighbor’s garden which has grown to about 2 m presented a stunning sight.

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Yesterday, today and tomorrow – color changes successively on three days

Incidentally, can you guess what the photo below shows?

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Citrus Hassaku

These are the fruits of the Citrus Hassaku, that have just emerged from the flower. If they make it through another 4 months without falling off or being pecked off by birds, I should have luscious oranges! I’m wondering whether to cover these with transparent plastic to protect them from birds!

The flowers were many initially (see photo below, taken about 15 days ago), but I guess it is the survival of the fittest in the natural world. The weak ones fell off leaving only the ones in the photo above.

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Citrus Hassaku flowers

A landscape designer would tear his/her hair out looking at my garden – there are too many varieties of flowers, shrubs, fruits and trees planted at every inch of space that I could find!

I put together some of the varieties to make a nice arrangement for the dining table!

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Pickings from my garden

Finally, here’s the wonderful red maple tree that I saw during a trip to Hakone in Japan.

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Maple tree among the lush green trees in Hakone

Until the next post, have a great day!

09
May
14

Back to my home garden in Japan

I’m back after a prolonged stay in India – and its wonderful to be back in Japan in time for the growing season! I have started growing veggies again after a gap of about three years. Let me get cracking with the photos and show you all that I have done to my garden. Here are some smiling daffodils that bloomed in my garden after I landed in Japan.

Daphne Adora

Daffodils (suisen in Japanese)

The lovely smelling, pinkish white Daphne Odora (Jinchoge in Japanese) were abloom at four different locations around my house. I had propagated these plants about five years ago from cuttings, and I’m glad I did so. The smell is just heavenly and I felt rejuvenated by looking and smelling them.

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Daphne Odora (Jinchoge)

Let me step out of my garden for a moment and show you the wonderful cherry blossoms that bloom all over the city around April end. Here are two photos of the flowers at a small park near my house.

Cherry blossom trees Closeup

Cherry blossoms – they arrive, light up the place and disappear within a week!

Planting vegetable saplings

I started off preparing the soil first. Dug up the ground to a depth of 30 cm, removed stones and other debris, mixed the soil up nicely with compost and organic fertilizer, watered the soil and allowed it to bask in the sunlight for a week. It was still cold when I planted the saplings, so I stretched out black plastic sheet to retain the heat and protect the roots, and which also prevents weed growth. The photos below speak for themselves.

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Left: Soil prepared and ready Middle: Plastic sheet stretched, holes made; Right: Saplings in place; 4 eggplants (brinjal), 4 cucumbers, 4 mini tomatoes and 4 bell peppers.

Since planting three weeks ago, I am happy to report that all the plants are doing very well. See the photos below.

Tomatoes

4 tomato plants – small yellow flowers already at the top; tomatoes have appeared at the lower stems

Eggplant

4 Eggplants (Brinjal) – the first of the vegetable has made its appearance in each of the plants

Cucumber

4 cucumber plants – yellow flowers have appeared and the plants appear to be healthy

Bell pepper

4 Bell Pepper Plants

I found some irises showing their faces today in my garden and promptly snapped them.

Iris

Irises abloom today

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Another variety of the iris – elegant lady!

My favorite geraniums have blossomed too – within a month these geraniums will be a riot of colors in my garden.

Geranium Geranium

Finally, I will stop at this post leaving you to admire the sweet-smelling marvelous Wisteria that hangs like purple jewels from the branches!

Wisteria

Next post – fruit trees and other flowering plants in my garden.

Have a great day!




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