Archive for March, 2009


Peas, figs, favas, fencing and flowers

The title says it all – a summary of the work I did this week on my garden.  I was lucky to have better weather than in the past few weeks, and I made full use of the good weather to get some work done in the garden.

I was excited with my first harvest of green peas – they were fresh and sweet. The faster you pick the almost-ripe pods, the faster they grow. Here are some photos of the green peas in the planter on my balcony.

Green pea plants

Green pea









My children saw green peas in pods for the first time! I’m quite sure that many kids in Japan have never seen peas in pods – they generally come in frozen packs or cans!


Equally exciting for me was the first of the fava beans jutting out from the spent-out flower. I was a little worried that the flowers of the fava bean were calling it a day with no sign of the beans – but no, they had done their work! The beans, although tiny made their first appearance today.

Bean jutting out of spent flower

Bean pointing to the sky








The photo on the left shows a fava bean jutting out of the flower, and on the right is a bean pointing to the sky (called “sora mame” in Japanese, literally “sky bean”).


The highlight this week was the framework of bamboo supports and net that my son Uday helped me to put up. This is in preparation of the tomato and cucumber plants that I intend to grow in the last row of squares in my patch.
We were pretty pleased to put up the framework with whatever materials we had on hand, and when we finished it, it appeared to be fairly solid and stable and most likely would have the capability to withstand the weight of tomatoes and cucumber and, of course, the strong winds and typhoons in summer!


Uday surveying his handiwork!

View from the back

Another view from the back of the framework

We set up the structure so that the net would be inclined and light to the vegetable plants would not be obstructed when the cucumber and tomato plants were fully mature.

I also got my fig plant from the nursery and replanted it in a pot. I have had success with the fig tree in the past, and I might try to grow it in a planter this time.



Fig tree replanted in a pot

Used akadama tsuchi: fuyoudo : kanuma tsuchi in the ratio of 5:3:1. The type of plant was “Maruseiyu” — would that be Marseilles? I need to get hold of a good horticultural dictionary. I picked up gardening after coming to Japan, and my horitcultural vocabulary in English is rather limited; so you are likely to find this blog with a lot of Japanese terms!





I planted my first few “sugar snap” pea plants in another part of my garden that I had just prepared. I have strung up nets against the wall just behind the plants and will guide them over the nets as they grow.

Sugar snap peas

These sugar snap peas supposedly have soft pods that can be eaten. This is again a first for me. I prepared the soil by mixing it with lime a week before to reduce the acidity. Just before planting these, I mixed it up with compost and compound fertilizer (N:P:Ca = 8:8:8). I also included a small amount of organic fertilizer just before planting them.

Two rows of mini-radish plants have also come up at last, and so also the komatsuna plants.











To end this week’s post here are some flowers from my garden – the pot marigold is a different one than last week’s.

Another pot marigold in bloom

Pot marigold

Yellow pansies nodding their heads


Until the next week, happy gardening!

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Beginnings of a square-foot garden patch

The weather has finally shown signs of warming up, and I have finally made a start on my square-foot garden patch. Here’s what the patch looks like:

Square-foot patch with walkway

I have managed to put in 7 x 7 squares into the patch with two walkways.

Already planted as seeds:

Potatoes: 1 per square x 8 squares

Komatsuna (Brassica rapa): 5 per square x 4 squares

Clover (flower): 6 per square x 1 square

Rape blossoms (flower):] 6 x 1 square

(all the above are on the extreme right of the photo above – planted on March 2, 2009)

Radish: 5 per square x 4 squares

Shungiku (edible crysanthemum): 5 per square x 4 squares

Carrot: (Probably) 6 per square x 4 squares

Primula (polyanthus): 2 per square x 1 square (one pink, one yellow)

Pot marigold: 2 per square x 1 square

(all the above are in the middle between the two walkways of the photo above: see enlarged photos of primula and pot marigold below – planted on March 9, 2009)


Primula (primrose) or Polyanthus


Pot marigold

Pot marigold


Planted as seedlings:

Red cabbage: 1 per square x 4 squares

Broccoli: 1 per square x 4 squares

Cabbage: 1 per square x 4 squares

Mizuna (potherb mustard): 2 per square x 4 squares

(the above can be seen on the extreme left – planted on March 16)

The last row of squares is yet free and I have plenty more to plant here!

Help! I need more land!


I was excited to see the first of the Komatsuna and radish shoots in my squares today. I was also happy to see my daughter Maya, lend a hand today with the planting of cabbage and brocolli plants and general digging and leveling of the soil.


My green peas and fava beans in planters on the balcony are doing well too, and I can see the green peas within the pods growing larger! The fava bean plants have plenty of flowers, but I have yet to see the beans. I’m hopeful of a good harvest around the end of April or beginning of May.

Fava beans in planters

Fava beans in planters

Green peas in planter

Green peas growing fast!

I also planted Hydrangea cuttings last week – they were hardwood cuttings and I’m hoping that roots will develop from these cuttings in a month’s time. Let’s see how it goes. Here are the cuttings and the hydrangea plant with new leaves just coming up.


Hydrangea cuttings








And to end this post, here is a photo of the two pot marigold and primrose plants in two squares.



Pot marigolds and primroses


Happy gardening!


Preparations for spring!

I’m already excited at the prospect of growing and propagating lots of vegetables and flowers this spring, which will be here soon! I plan to propagate quite a few of flowers in my garden and exchange it for other flowers with friends! I have also got hold of quite a few vegetable seeds from India and hope to try them out. Moreover, I’m bubbling with energy this time because I’m trying out something new – a square foot garden. Yes, I have just started off by marking off and preparing a part of my small patch with 30 cm x 30 cm squares, and have laid a small stone pathway beside it. Here’s a photo:

Beginnings of a square-foot patch  The patch to the right of the walkway of red stones will have 7×2 squares of 0.3m each. Each square will contain one or more plants. I intend to start with potatoes (a first for me) and Komatsuna (Japanese green – Brassica rapa), with probably one potato plant in one square and about 10 Komatsuna plants in one square (5 cm spacing).  The weather however, is still cloudy and rainy.I have still not decided how to demarcate the squares. I’ll probably use bamboo, wooden flats, string or maybe just grooves.

I think a square garden is the way to go because of the variety of plants one can grow and rotate in the patch.


Japanese Photinia (click to enlarge)  Next, I planted cuttings for propagation of the Japanese Photinia (benikanamemochi), which I use for fencing my garden. These plants require very little maintenance, grow well throughout the year, and their tops turn a bright red at certain times of the year.  The photo to the left shows the cuttings.

I hope to exchange some of these propagated plants with others that my garden doesn’t have with my gardening friends. The geranium plants that I propagated through cuttings have already flowered. Geranium is probably the easiest plant to propagate. Just cut pieces a few centimeters each from a healthy branch and stick them in soil; roots develop in less than a week and the plant grows on its own. I have already given away some of the geranium plants that I propagated this way to friends.




Here’s a geranium plant that I propagated from a cutting; a young Begonia is on the left. The cutting developed roots even during winter and has given white flowers (a little difficult to see against the white background).


I plan to propagate others during this spring including Sasanqua, Azalea, Japanese anemone, Hydrangea and some others.




I harvested my first cauliflower today and it was delicious! Here’s a photo of the cauliflower; our family cat too was also fairly interested in the fresh cauliflower!

CauliflowerOur cat giving the once-over









The mint cuttings that I had stuck in a planter in early winter last year, also showed new leaves! I’m looking forward to mint chutney in spring.





Mint plants

I love the fragrance of these leaves, and especially, the mint chutney!





Finally, here’s a photo of the Hina Ningyou or Japanese dolls that adorn my house during the Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day or Japanese Doll Festival) on (March 3).

Japanese Doll Festival (click to enlarge) 


Hina Ningyou – Japanese dolls set up during the Japanese doll festival (Hina Matsuri) on March 3.


Until the next post, have a great day!


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March 2009