27
Aug
15

Collecting seeds

In this post, I will touch upon how to collect seeds from flowers, some successes of projects initiated last month, and results of harvests.

First, any time you get hold of a marigold, dahlia or zinnia, just allow it to dry completely. Then follow the sequence of photos below to collect seeds for sowing next spring.

image image
image image

 

image image

image

Zinnia

Clockwise top to bottom: 1) Dry flower 2) Gently pull out petal one by one 3) At the end of the petal is the arrowhead seed. Cut off unwanted part of petals and collect seeds in a paper bag.

image image

Dahlia

This is similar to the Zinnia. Let the flowers dry out fully. Pull out the petals one by one gently. The arrow head at the bottom of the petal is the seed. Save the seeds in a paper bag and store in the refrigerator.

Morning glory too gives out a large number of seeds when the flowers dry out. You need to collect the seed pod from the plant. Each pod may contain 3-6 seeds.

Next time you see any of these flowers in the dry state, don’t throw them away. Take them home and collect the seeds. Store in the fridge, and when spring comes, sow them.

 

Some results of my experimental projects

Here are some successes:

image

Small oranges

Out of about seven cuttings from an orange tree (thanks, Utiyama-san), four of the cuttings rooted. Some of them bore white flowers – it was amazing to see plants with no new leaves but with flowers.

I am hoping that at least two of the four will survive the forthcoming winter and grow to give oranges in the future.

image

 

 

Sapota

I had brought with me Sapota seeds from India last May and planted them in small pots. About seven of them have successfully germinated and are growing well. I’m not sure whether they will survive the winter – I’ll place them in a home-made hot house. It took nearly two months for the seeds to germinate. The growth also seems to be slow – after more than three months, new leaves have started appearing.

I have no idea whether these will grow to yield my favorite ‘chikoos’ but I’ll do my best to keep them alive and kicking!

 

 

image

Pineapple

Another experimental project (see previous blog post). I had cut out the top of a pineapple and planted it about a month earlier. New leaves have started appearing from the center.

 

image

Mexican mango

The Mexican mango seed I had planted last month (see previous blog post) delighted me by throwing out new leaves.  I do not expect mangoes, but it will be fun watching it grow!

 

Harvests until now

Although season is not yet over, let’s see how I have fared since I planted the veggies after reaching Japan in May. Here is a table that gives the score:

Vegetable/Fruit Home Garden Office Garden Total
Tomato (large+small) 115 78 193
Cucumber 60 13 73
Eggplant 60 20 80
Green pepper 55 55
Beans 224 224
Okra 13 13
Corn 3 3
Small radish 31 31
Green chilli 65 65
Coriander Harvested 4 times 4
Malkheiya Harvested 6 times 6
Figs 35 35
Water melon 1 1

As the numbers speak for themselves, I tasted some degree of success with tomato, beans, eggplant, cucumber, green pepper, and green chilli. Okhra, corn and water melon harvest was lackluster. I failed miserably with Eda mame. Peanuts are still growing; so are eggplant and okhra. I hope to harvest peanuts in autumn.

Finally, here are some flowers and fruits growing presently in my garden.

image

Wisteria

The growing season is already over, but because of my incessant pruning, the tree has produced flowers quite late. The flowers above bloomed beginning of August.

image

Ginger lily

Undeniably, my favorite flower. Pleasant, strong aroma – I cut them and place them in flower vases all over my house. I plan to propagate more of these and dot them all around the periphery of my house.

image

Formosan Lily or Mountain Lily

This flower grows all over my garden come summer. I do nothing – the plant grows wild, flowers bloom in summer and the plant disappears to appear somewhere else next summer. A gift from God.

 

image

Hibiscus

This blood-red Hibiscus flower has just started blooming after overwintering. The plant was gifted to my by my friend Toyama-san last year. It spent the winter within my house. I brought it out in May, and flowers have finally bloomed in August, the middle of summer.

image

Hosta

image

Fig tree

The fig tree is the gem in my garden. It has given a lot of figs this year; since August, I pick about 2 figs a day on an average. Delicious –see photo below.

image

Figs from my home garden

All for now – until the next post, Happy Gardening!

26
Jul
15

Experimental projects

Over the past month, I have started several experimental projects including growing of plants in plastic bottles containing nutrient solution (aquaponics), seed propagation, cutting propagation, air layering and grafting. Some of these have been practiced over hundreds of years; however, I am trying out some new probably untried experiments such as grafting persimmon (fruit) on to a flowering plant stock, growing tropical plants such as sapota and white pumpking (seeds from India), cuttings placed in plastic bottles containing some water until signs of roots appear and then placing them in soil, and so on.

In brief, here they are:

1. Aquaponics

image 

Simple aquaponics tools

The most important component is obviously the nutrient solution in which the plant has to grow. I selected a two part Hyponica pack (A, B) that I mixed in a 500-ml distilled water solution (1 ml of A and 1 ml of B), which I used to immerse the cleaned roots of plants such as tomato, mint and  perilla plants. The growth after a few weeks seem to be OK, but not as fast as in soil. I will probably increase the frequency of replenishing the solution to about 3 times a week.

For the container, I cut transversely a 2-liter green-tea plastic container and inverted the top half on to the bottom half. If the cut is at the right location, there is no need to tape or hold the upper half in place – it fits snugly on to the bottom half.

I have placed the containers in a shaded but brightly lit balcony.

I also plant to support the plants from the top (by tying them to hooks on the ceiling). Presently, the roots are dipping in the solution supported by branches that rest on the edges of the plastic bottles.

image

Two tomato plants in nutrient solution

image

Two mint plants flanked by tomato and perilla

 

image

2. Air layering 

Rose of Sharon

I decided to propagate Rose of Sharon by air layering. I cut off the bark gently and on the exposed portion, wound around moist sphagnum moss, wrapped it over with plastic and tied it with plastic wire. I have no idea whether this will work; but its fun trying it out. Will report results next month.

image

Air layering – Peach

The peach tree has not been giving flowers so I decided to propagate it by air layering and then pay more attention to raising the new plant (hopefully!) Again, will post results next month.

image

3. Grafting

Persimmon on flowering tree – far-fetched?

I have taken a step into the unknown world – I had a Japanese flowering tree giving small white flowers with more leaves than flowers; I cut off the upper part, cut a notch into the center of the stem and inserted a wedged persimmon cutting and wound it up with some moist sphagnum moss to retain moisture. Let’s see what happens after a month.

 

 image

4. Propagation by cutting – 2 kinds of oranges

My friend Utiyama-san gave me some cuttings for two kinds of oranges which I promptly inserted into seed mix and covered up with a transparent plastic bag. Look forward to root germination in at least some of these.

 

image

5.  Pineapple top

Carefully cut off the top of a ripe pineapple, removed the basal leaves to expose roots, and planted the top into potting mix. I am hoping that the outer leaves will fall off new leaves will emanate from the center and bring up a new pineapple plant.

image

6. Propagation by cuttings after soaking them in water

Fig cuttings – some with buds

Took some fig cuttings from the tree in my garden and placed them in a 2-liter transparent plastic bottle for about 3 days when white dots appeared around the nodes – see the photo below.

 

image

Fig cutting after three days with bottom end immersed in water

I put these cuttings into potting mix and will keep them for about a month or so. Will post results next month.

image

Persimmon and pawpaw cuttings

Similar to fig cuttings, I also have pear, persimmon and pawpaw cuttings in bottle since mid July in plastic bottles. Not sure about persimmon but I hope to root pawpaw and pear cuttings.

image

7. Growing from seeds

Mexican mango seed extracted

I couldn’t resist getting the seed out of a Mexican mango that I ate. Split the har shell and got out the inner seed; removed the black thin covering and disconnected the umbilical. Planted the entire seed in compost+ light soil and  covered it with transparent plastic to retain moisture. See photo below.

 

image

Mango seed in compost + light soil

image

Labeled, covered and stored in shaded location

 

 

image

Avocado seed in water

This time I’m patiently going to wait until the avacado seed splits and throws out a root and leaves! I change the water every day after sticking toothpicks as above. After about 20 days, there seem to be results!

image

 Avacado seed after twenty days

The root seems to be developing within and soon it should come out of the bottom. I wonder how the leaves will open out.

 

image

California lemon

After consuming a large yellow California lemon, I planted the seeds and the lemon saplings seem to be growing. I have no idea whether it will grow to be a good lemon tree and give lemons – but I plan to use it as bonsai and as rootstock for grafting from lemon/orange trees.

image

Sapota saplings from seeds

The Sapota seeds I brought over from India have finally germinated – planted them around second week of May but the seeds germinated only around July first week. Shows that every seed takes its own time!

I have about 5 to 6 Sapota saplings and will be happy even if two survive and grow well.

 

image

Cutting propagation box

Since July/August is the right season for propagating cuttings, I bought a transparent plastic box and filled with with a mix of vermiculite/akadama soil/peat moss and planted a bunch of cuttings in the moist mixture. The box has a nice air-tight lid and I remove the lid and spray some water on the soil to keep it moist and air the cuttings.

 

image

Collecting Zinnia seeds

When the Zinnia flower dries out, you can remove the petals and find arrow-head shaped seeds at the core. Every marigold flower gives nearly a hundred seeds. I’m planning to have lots of marigolds and zinnia in my garden next year!

 

In parallel with the experiments, I have been collecting seeds especially of Zinnia, marigold, water melon, beans for the next year. I have placed this seeds in paper packets and labelled them; I put these packets  in a plastic box and placed them in the refrigerator.

image

Daily harvest

Meanwhile, my small harvest everyday continues; a typical harvest is like the above. Sometimes, there are more tomatoes and green pepper than cucumber and eggplants. I have also harvested beans, malkheiya, small radish, okra and corn from my office garden. The edamame however, were a failure. I think the plants or the soil properties were unfavorable. The edamame plants never grew to a bush – maybe I should have used more organic fertilizer.

July has been a fairly busy month with growing/propagating/experimenting. August promises to be better, as the results of the experiments should be out.

Have a great day!

12
Jul
15

from my home garden

May to August are probably the busiest months while I’m in Japan. I have three simultaneous activities going on – office garden, home garden, bonsai and experimental projects. I’ll show you what has bloomed and grown in my home garden in this period.

image

Lily or yuri in Japanese

The roots are bulbs that can be removed after the flowering and stored in a cool place in the house to be brought back and planted in spring next year. I love flowers that grow from bulbs!

image

Rose (bara in Japanese) in a planter

The only rose that bloomed in the planter this year! I need to take better care with this plant and prune regularly for more flowers.

image

Hydrangea (or ajisai in Japanese)

I love these blooms; they look wonderful, require little maintenance and come up year after year faithfully. All I do is cut off well beneath the dead flowers every August and trim the bush.

image

Hydrangea close-up

Isn’t she beautiful? This variety of Hydrangea is called Gakugei Ajisai in Japanese. The white flowers develop spots of red as days elapse. I propagated this plant through cutting and have another bush elsewhere in my home garden.

image

Zinnia

This is the first time I have planted Zinnia. I must say the flowers are durable – more than a month has passed and they flowers are still intact on their stalks! I planted the yellow and white Zinnia together with marigold of a different variety (supposedly large blooms) but have yet to see a Marigold bloom. The slender leaved plant is in front of the Zinnias in the photo above.

image

Fig (or ichijiku in Japanese)

The fig tree in my home garden has been giving me delicious figs – luckily the fig leaves are hiding the fruits from the birds, so the fruits are still intact. The harvest has just started; I think around August I should have about 30-40 figs.

image

Cucumber (or kyuri in Japanese) flower

Constant rains and cloudy weather has kept the sun away and caused abnormal growth; my cucumber plants at home after yielding plenty of cucumbers suddenly had huge yellow flowers and no cucumbers. This is the first time I saw a flower so big.

image

Flowers from my home garden

They freshen up the dining table!

image

Morning glory – pink

The first of these flowers have come up on the net.  Have also planted a purple morning glory plant nearby. Within a month, I expect the entire net in front of the large windows will be a curtain in pink and purple.

image 

Morning glory – purple

The first purple morning glory has bloomed! The best part of these flowers is that around September/October when the plants are dead, you’ll find lots of seeds. Collect them, place them in a cool place and grow them next season.

image 

Morning glory – monotone

I planted a couple of these along my fence. When in full bloom, the entire fence will be covered with these flowers. You need to take care to lead them in the right direction every day.

image

Rose of Sharon

Finally, the first of these flowers has bloomed belatedly. At the beginning of spring, I went into a frenzy of pruning and wielded my shears wildly. The poor Rose of Sharon plant became a small shade of itself – yet it has forgiven me and has started giving out beautiful flowers.

image

Mixed collection from Karuizawa

On a recent road trip to Karuizawa with friends, I picked up several flowering plants including pink geranium, mini rose, margaret (?) and bulbous begonias that resemble the rose. The weather is much cooler in Karuizawa, so I prefer to place these in the shade.

Next post – experimental projects coming soon!

Have a great day!

 

11
Jun
15

restarting my office garden

Since returning to Japan beginning of May, I have re-started my office garden after a lapse of more than two years. The plot was in rather good shape, thanks to the landlord who had maintained it free of weeds. I dug up the ground, mixed compost, levelled the soil, fixed a gate to the fence and generally strengthened the fencing. After some work, one of the four square-foot plots looked like this:

image

Square foot plot ready for planting

After about 10 days, I planted an assortment of vegetables:

image

First square-foot plot with assorted veggies

These included corn (8), tomato (2), cucumber (4), eggplant (4), chilli (4) and Okhra (8). I reduced the number of tomato plants, as I plan to reproduce more tomato plants from the two plants that I bought and planted.

This is what it looked like two weeks later:

image

Two weeks later

First row facing: Okhra and marigold

Second row: Eggplant and chilli

Third row: Cucumber and tomato

Fourth row: Corn

 

Here is a snapshot of the second square-foot plot:

image

Second square-foot plot

I planted two rows of French beans (16), one row of Eda mame (8), and one row of peanuts (8).

Here is how it looks two weeks later (today):

image

Two weeks later

Beans are looking good, and so are the eda mame plants. Peanuts (last row) haven’t grown as well as I expected.

 

image

Third square-foot plot

On the third square foot plot, I planted three red/white Indian pumpkin that I cultivated from seeds, four water melon saplings and two Mulukhiya saplings (these are full of nutrition and make great soups). I plan to use the remaining two rows for saplings grown separately from seeds at home.

Here is how the plot above looks two weeks later:

image

Two weeks later

I planted seeds of small radish in two lines in the third row and they have started coming up well. The radishes will be harvested within a month after planting the seeds.

In the last row, I planted carrot seeds. Nothing has come up yet.

 

image

Fourth square-foot plot

While the plot above looks as if a typhoon has run through it, in reality, this is how the first two rows of sweet potato that you plant initially looks like. After watering them plentifully for a few days, the leaves perk up and stand erect. See next photo taken after a week.

The first two rows in the foreground are sweet-potato saplings (16) (they are sold in this condition; look rather pitiful!). In the next row, I planted Indian eggplant cultivated from seeds (8). In the last row, I planted two tomato (large) plants and two wax gourd saplings. The remaining space is for tomato plants that I will reproduce.

Here is what it looks like two weeks later (today)

image

Two weeks later

A dramatic change in the sweet potato plants – they are all standing erect and are healthy. Compare the photo above with this one to see the difference.

Finally, here is an overall view of the entire plot:

image

Overall view

I’m generally pleased with the growth (except for peanuts and okhra). I’ll probably change the fertilizer for these two kinds of plants from bat guano to some other.

That’s all for this post, folks. I’ll take up my home garden and the flowers blooming there in my next post.

Have a great day!

18
May
15

Back to my home garden in Japan

After four months in India, I am back furiously at work to spruce up my home garden.

Here are some flowers in bloom:

image

Dianthus or Nadeshiko in Japanese

image image

Two colors of German Iris

image image

Azalea or tsutsuji in Japanese                                           Spiraea or Kodemari in Japanese

A few of my bonsai creations:

image

Maple or momiji in Japanese – hoping it will turn red in autumn

image

Lemon – hoping that some lemons will turn up some day!

image

Assorted – Pine, yesterday, today and tomorrow (white and purple flowers) and another flowering plant

image

Another German Iris – couldn’t resist clicking and sharing this photo with you

image

Geraniums in full bloom

image

Scented geranium

image

Yesterday, today and tomorrow in full bloom at the fence – excellent aroma

More on vegetables and my office garden in the next post!

Have a great day!

25
Apr
15

revisiting my balcony garden in bangalore

I am in Bangalore, India, since the last four months. When I returned, my potted plants watered by the watchmen at the apartment where I stay  were in bad shape. Over these four months, with tender loving care, I have brought them back to good health! In the meanwhile, I visited Lalbagh on Independence day and came across some glorious flowers! Here are some samples.

 

image

 

image

image

Flowers forming the Red Fort in New Delhi

 

image CIMG1123

    

Fruit plants on sale were tempting, but since I was to stay for a short period, I resisted

 

CIMG1108

Shanka Pushpa or Butterfly Pea

I’m growing them for the first time – I like the shape. They grow profusely and also yield seeds, which I plan to take to Japan.

image

Jasmine – star shaped and delicate aroma!

Before the second spurt of flowers in this plant, monkeys plucked off the buds and threw them away! Pure mischief.

image

Closeup of the jasmine

image

Periwinkle

These flowers grow profusely in March/April in Bangalore. Miss a day’s water and the leaves curl up – water them immediately and they are healthy again.

image

I got bulbs of the lovely pink flower from Japan and planted them here. I forget the name – Zachyrantes or similar sounding name; this spelling did not give me any hits on the net.

 

image

Bougainvillea

Just started turning red. I expect several more bunches of red at the corner of my balcony over the next few months.

 

image

Plumeria

I grew this plumeria from seed, but I’m going to give it away to a good home. Let it grow big and yield beautiful aromatic flowers!

 

image

Aloe Vera

A friend recommended the gel from this plant as after shave, and by golly, it is good. I plan to grow this in Japan as well, and make natural shampoo out of it.

 

All for now! I have to pack and leave for Japan. The next post will be from Japan.

Have a great day!

Technorati Tags: ,,
29
Dec
14

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.




Pages

Blog Stats

  • 125,627 hits

Weather for Kisarazu City, Japan

Click for Kisarazu Air Base, Japan Forecast

Stat Counter

wordpress visitor
counter
My BlogCatalog BlogRank

Recent Readers

View My Profile View My Profile View My Profile View My Profile View My Profile
August 2015
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers