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:

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Square foot plot ready for planting

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

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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:

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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:

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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):

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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.

 

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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:

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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.

 

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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)

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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:

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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:

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Dianthus or Nadeshiko in Japanese

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Two colors of German Iris

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Azalea or tsutsuji in Japanese                                           Spiraea or Kodemari in Japanese

A few of my bonsai creations:

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

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

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

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

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Geraniums in full bloom

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Scented geranium

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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.

 

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Flowers forming the Red Fort in New Delhi

 

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

 

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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.

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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.

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Closeup of the jasmine

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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.

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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.

 

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Bougainvillea

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

 

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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!

 

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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!

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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.

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!




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