Pests, potatoes and petunias

God made all creatures – even the slimy green crawlers that frequent my cabbage leaves – for some reason, I suppose. Every morning I start out with my trusty chopsticks and hunt out these slimy worms that make my cabbage leaves look like minefields. Today, I picked them up gently and deposited them on the ground at the diagonally opposite corner of my house. The average length of this green worm is 1 cm, assuming that the distance that it travels per step is half its body length of 0.5 cm, and I place them 25 meters or 2500 cm away, the number of steps each worm needs to take to re-reach my cabbages will be 2500/0.5 = 5000 paces. Considering the obstacles that that it has to overcome, including a compost box, a net, an outdoor storage cupboard and various objects – I thought to myself with glee:  my dear worm, if you manage to make  your way back to my cabbage patch, you have earned it! Go for it. I only hope that God has not given these worms the homing instinct as in pigeons!

My main veggie patch looks this now.

My vegetable patch today

My main vegetable patch

In place of the harvested radish, I have planted “edamame” or soya beans. After harvesting “komatsuna” I have planted Okra, my favorite vegetable. The potatoes to the left are probably ready for harvest. The leaves are turning yellow and I tentatively scraped the ground around one of the plants to find some lovely potatoes peeping out. Since this is the first time, I’ll get my daughter Maya to pull out the first of the potatoes on a trial dig. The carrots too seem to be maturing, but I have no idea when to pull them out! Broccoli is probably ready ready for harvest.

In the meanwhile, I found that the best way to save time I use for removing weeds is to dig and create a flower bed! So I now have another flower bed that I have turned into a herb garden. Here are my beds:

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Beans – back; eggplant – front row Sugar snap – back; okra – front row


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My new herb garden                    New flower bed – Balsam, aster, iris


The creation of a new bed at a place that was infested with weeds and stones was back-breaking work; but the satisfaction upon completion was tremendous, knowing that maintenance henceforth would be minimal I wouldn’t have to waste as much time in disposing of weeds again.

I transplanted the following herbs from my planter to my small herb garden:

Fennel, sage, yarrow, oregano, rosemary, soapwort, thyme, lavender, lemon balm

In the other new flower bed, I planted Balsam and aster that I had grown from seeds purchased in India; and German iris that were presented to me by my good friend, Utiyama-san. I await with eager anticipation the aster and Balsam blooms. I have no idea what the flowers would like like!

I had my daughter do a trial dig of the potatoes since some of its leaves had turned yellow. We got about six decent-sized potatoes and about five to six small ones. At lunch, we cooked it and when steaming hot, cut each into four halves, placed a small dollop of butter at the center, and added some salt to taste. I tried out a little chat masala too, and the taste was “simbly incredibul” as some of my dearest friends down southern India would say! I’m looking forward to harvesting the rest of the potato plants (seven).

This year I have planted flowers at the corners of each row of vegetables – mainly so that the flowers would attract insects and they add color to the vegetable patch. Here are some of the flowering plants I placed at the corners:


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Petunia  Mini-sunflower


CIMG0161               CIMG0170
Salvia (sunflower behind) Dahlia


I was also delighted at seeing new leaves on some cuttings I had planted around March – I had almost given up hopes on the Daphne Odora, but several of them sprang up new leaves to my delight. Was also successful with my favorite plant, Hydrangea.

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Daphne Odora cuttings (front)
Japanese Photinia (back)
Hydrangea (from cutting)


Other flowers in bloom in my garden today are:

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Geraniums in profusion    Azalea


I’m afraid I waited too long to harvest the broccoli; I harvested them up today. Well, you live and learn!


Broccoli – delayed harvest?

Finally, an update on my curry leaf plants. There’s still no change in the cuttings I planted in – hold your breath – February! Should I give up on them?

The photo (right below) is a quiz for you, dear reader? I found this plant with small white flowers growing out of a crack. I’m not sure what flower it is; I do hope some of the experts will assist me in this one. 

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Curry leaf cuttings                   Mystery plant – what is it?


OK – here are two more closeups of the mystery plant. The flower has petals that are small at the top and large at the bottom.

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Mystery plant – 1 Mystery plant –2


Finally,  I leave you with a photo of the lovely roses that my friend Utiyama picked from his garden and presented to me. He’s already sold me on the rose idea – I’m planning to plant roses next year!


                                              Fragrant roses

Happy gardening!

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17 Responses to “Pests, potatoes and petunias”

  1. 1 KevinK
    May 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Can’t help with naming the white flowers, but I’d like to hear how the edamame go. I plan to try them here at the end of winter (Southern hemisphere). Your chopstick idea for bugs has come in handy too by the way.

    • May 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

      The edamame plants are coming up fine. Not very clear in the photo of the main vegetable patch – I have planted four of them in the middle row toward the right.

  2. May 25, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Hi Gururaj, your garden looks fantastic! I see you managed to get some irises! I’m having the same problem, with the weeds growing too fast, I’m going to have to dig up part of the garden, too much weeding. That’s so funny about the cabbage worms!Don’t give up on the curry plant cuttings!

    I think the mystery plant might be a wild ginger, which I just heard about the other day of the Poor Richard’s Almanac blog. It’s pretty, both the leaves and flowers. I also learned that ants spread the seeds. They take them from flowers and distribute them after eating the nutritious appendages. So it might might sense that it would sprout up in a crack like that.

    • May 25, 2009 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and your encouragement to go on with the curry leaf cuttings. Curry leaf does thrive in the hot summer, and I do admit that the weather here in Japan is still not all that hot. That does seem to be a candidate. Kim who commented after your message, mentioned that it could be heuchera. The jury is still out. I had a look at the plant again it has cute white flowers, the petals at the top being large while those at the bottom being small. I’ll try to put in an enlarged photo.

  3. 5 Kim (Japan)
    May 25, 2009 at 5:08 am

    The mystery plant with 3-4 cm leaves and white flowers on tall stems are heuchera. I have them in my garden. My flowers are pink. Some of mine never got flowers, and the stems fell down and look like vines.

    I like your blog. You’re doing a great job!

    • May 25, 2009 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Kim, for stopping by. I’m going to take a photo and put it up in the blog. Could you then check whether the flowers look similar to your heuchera? Thanks.

  4. May 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Gururaj,

    I like the flowers that you have planted besides your vegetables. They are beautiful, including the mysterious flowers which you didn’t intentionally grow 🙂

    • June 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Sandy, thanks for stopping by! Finally found that the mysterious flower was Saxifraga stolonifera! And these blossoms are long-lasting. Definitely a keeper!

  5. 9 geekgardener
    May 28, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Hello Gururaj,

    I like the way your garden is setup. So organized. I wish I could find the name of that mystery plant. It looks very beautiful though. I can understand your excitement about Aster. I bought Aster (mixed ) seeds from Lalbagh and now they started blooming. Its so exciting to see what color their flowers are.

    Keep posting..

  6. May 29, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    That mystery plant is rather mysterious! It bears some resemblance to heucheras but something about the flowers doesn’t look right to me to call it a heuchera. There are many varieties of heucheras out there so it very well could be and they like to perch themselves on rocky outcroppings which would make sense for its current location. Usually the flowers seem smaller with many more flowers on each stalk.

    • May 31, 2009 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks, Dave. Like you said, the leaves do resemble heucheras, but the flowers are unlike those I have found in heuchera photos on the Web. Rather rare shape with petals in the upper half of a different size than those in the lower half of the flower. Let me ask the locals here and verify if they are indeed heucheras.

    • June 1, 2009 at 2:57 am

      Mystery solved! One of my Japanese friends pointed out that this was the Saxifraga stolonifera! I looked up images on the web and that’s it. Thanks to you all for the suggestions.

  7. June 8, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I have some okra coming along as well! I can’t wait for it to produce so I can pickle it!

    Have you grown okra before? I haven’t, and everyone keeps telling me to be careful when I harvest it, because the plants are sticky and leave a residue on your skin that can burn! I’m going in with big gloves when it’s time to harvest!

    • June 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Kara, yes I harvested okra last year – see the photos here: https://japanesegarden.wordpress.com/2008/08/
      The varieties of okra I have grown have no problems of residue or burning. I harvest them with bare hands – there’s hardly any stickiness on the outer skin. I then wash them in cold water, wipe off traces off water on the outside and then cut them into small pieces for the traditional Indian curries (sambar or sabji). This year too I have planted eight of them and they have just started flowering. Hope this helps a bit.

  8. June 10, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Every thing is growing so nicely. The beds are so neat and I love the way you you’ve used the flowers. -Jackie

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