Archive for December, 2009


Experimenting with seeds

December has been a month of experimentation. It was time to plant all the seeds that I had collected during fall in India and Japan. I carefully selected two to three of various fruits and flower seeds that I had assiduously collected and arranged them in my seed planter as below, and charted the description of sheets in an Excel sheet.


Assorted seeds

Seeds arranged and ready for sowing


Unknown (2) Hibiscus (2) Beach (1) Persimmon (2)
+ Camelia 1
Komatsuna (7) Beach (2)
Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 13 Dec. 3
Donguri (1) Donguri (1) Curry Leaf (2) Saradana Komatsuna (7) Orange (3)
Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 13 Dec. 13 Dec. 3
Donguri (S)(2) Camelia (2) Sapota (2) Nadeshiko (5) Komatsuna (7) Sweet lime (2)
Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 3 Dec. 13 Dec. 3

Chart corresponding to photo above showing details of seeds sown  Name (No. of seeds) and date planted

Covered the entire arrangement with a plastic lid having a few holes and kept them at room temperature.

I had picked up some seeds on the beach at Izu – I have no idea where they have come from (first row columns with the captions “Unknown” and “Beach”). Maybe they have been carried across the ocean or have been thrown overboard from a ship.

I had picked up some orange, sweet lime and Sapota (a delicious fruit in India) seeds on my trip to India. Others are from various locations in Japan (Hibiscus; from my trip to the Izu Peninsula).


To my delight,  I found young saplings appearing after about a week. I was happy with the germination of Hibiscus, which I promptly removed and placed in a separate container. This plant grows in frost-free environment to several meters in height, and I’m hoping to grow it in a large planter, so that I can move it within the house when it gets too cold. Hibiscus is a popular plant in the islands of Okinawa, where the weather is much warmer than in the rest of Japan generally. It would be wonderful if I can raise these in the colder climate of Kisarazu. I also found that another Hibiscus seed has germinated after I removed the first one to its own small pot. Isn’t it exciting to grow plants from seeds?


Hibiscus – hoping for safe passage through the winter Ginger lily-like plant                 Ginger lily like plant (below)


I had picked up a few seeds of a pink flowering plant, which resembled the Ginger Lily in Mumbai, India. One fine day, I found this seed had germinated and shot up quite quickly. Again, I promptly took it off from the seed pot and gave this plant its own new home.

I found that it was important to transplant it as soon as the sapling is capable of being transplanted. This encourages growth of the seeds remaining in the pot. I found another seed germinating soon after I transplanted this Ginger Lily-like sapling. 



Encouraged by the success of the above seeds, I bought a plastic trays, filled them with used ubiquitous plastic pots in which plants are sold, filled them with seed mix and started off with other kinds of seeds. Note I have no idea whether any will germinate, but I’m sure some of them will!

GulMohar (2) Rose (2) La France (Pear)(4) La France (Pear)(5)   Green Peas Green Peas Noibara (Wild rose) Manryou (Coral Ardisia)
Dec. 4 Dec. 4 Dec. 4 Dec. 4   Dec.13 Dec.13 Dec.13 Dec.13
Like GulMohar Papaya (small) Camelia (2) Nasturtium (2)   Green Peas Green Peas Bittersweet(4) Red seeds
(Orange (4))   Dec. 8 Dec. 9       Dec.13 Dec.13
Dec. 4 Dec. 4       Dec.13 Dec.13    
Dates (2) Misc. Flwr (2) Nasturtium (2) Nasturtium (2)   Yellow flwr (2) Red seeds (4) Apple (4) Senryo (Sarcandra)(4)
Dec. 4 Dec. 4 Dec. 9 Dec. 9   Dec. 14 Dec. 14 Dec. 15 Dec. 15
          (Near canal) (Near canal)    
            (Pink cover)    
Ginger like (4) Grape (4) Lemon (2) Apple (4) +
Holly (1)
  Hair-like seeds (2) Aoki (Japanese Aucuba) (3) Tulsi (Holy Basil  (10) Tulsi (Holy Basil (10)
Dec. 4 Dec. 4 Dec. 4 Dec. 17   Dec. 15 Dec. 15 Dec. 16 Dec. 16

Chart showing details of eight 4×4 pots with various seeds sown in them


Holy Basil

On Christmas day, I was delighted to find many small green leaves of Holy Basil appear in two of the pots. Holy Basil is a plant with good medicinal properties, too numerous to mention here, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed! If they do grow well, I hope to consume two Holy Basil leaves a day every morning, along with copious amounts of copper water, followed by Pranayama and Yoga.



 Holy Basil




I did not expect Persimmon to root; I accidentally poked around the pot with persimmon seeds and found that one of them had rooted. I also found that the root had come out of a hole at the side of the seed. Conclusion – make a slit in hard, flat seeds at the side to accelerate germination. I dug up all the hard seeds I had planted and promptly made nicks at the side using a sharp knife. Let’s see what transpires. It appears that one can rarely expect fruits from a tree grown after planting a seed from the fruit; but hey, its fun watching a plant grow in front of your eyes, and I enjoy growing plants!


Komatsuna Avacado

Komatsuna – transplanted                                                          Avacado – cracking up from top

I have transplated Komatsuna to a planter and have also placed Avacado. I read somewhere that Avacado roots faster if placed in warm water and in bright sunshine.

In addition to the above, green peas and Saradana (spinach) seeds have already germinated. Should any of my readers have more information on the seeds I have planted, on how to improve germination, do comment and show me the way. I’ll be everlastingly indebted to you!

Happy Holidays!

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Japanese maples and red berries

Last Saturday I went for my first hike with a group of hikers to a nearby hills and forest called the “Momiji Road” (Maple Road). Although we were late by about two weeks in witnessing the splash of autumn colors, I did find the remnants of autumn colors pleasing and personally had a good time hiking through woods and observing the vegetation. I focused my attention this time on red berries.


View from top of the hill – Kanozan and the Yokohoma-Kawasaki skyline beyond

Let me share some of the autumn scenes during the hike with you.

Hike through maples

Hiking through glorious Japanese maple trees

We walked through in a file delighted at nature’s colors. I wish we had made this two weeks earlier when the autumn leaves were in full array!

Autumn offering

Dense concentration of maple leaves


Towering maple

Throughout the hike, I came across various kinds of red berries and picked up some of them.

Oriental bittersweet 

Oriental bittersweet (Tsuru ume modoki in Japanese)

This is a deciduous, climbing, woody plant with clusters of inconspicuous yellowish flowers producing green/yellow fruits which split in Autumn to reveal showy bright red seeds. The Japanese name is “Tsuru ume modoki.” It appears to be an invasive species. Highly ornamental and can be used in wreaths. I’m planning to propagate the plant with the red seeds, but would probably do it in planters.



Coral berry or Coral Ardisia (Manryo in Japanese)

On top of the hill was a solitary house where the old man grew all kinds of vegetables and flowers. I found this plant in his sunlit garden. The coral berry is a familiar sight in Japanese gardens in winter. My neighbor has at least ten of them in her gardens. The dark green, serrated leaves are glossy and very attractive. The berries, which hang down in clusters, are quite showy as they ripen and turn to shades of coral and finally bright scarlet. There are similar varieties in Japan called “Senryo” in Japanese (Sarcandra glabra) and “Hyakuryo” (Ardisia crispa) and even “Juryryo” (Japanese ardisia).



 I found many of these shrubs growing by the sides of the hills as we walked the narrow paths. Called the “Aoki” in Japanese, the bright red berries lit up the surroundings. I picked a few and hope to propagate this plant.

According to Wikipedia:

“They are evergreen shrubs or small trees 2-13 m tall, similar in appearance to the laurels of the genus Laurus, having glossy, leathery leaves, and are sometimes mistakenly called laurels.


Japanese Aucuba (Photo courtsey: Wikipedia)

Rosa multiflora

Rosa Multiflora (Japanese name “Noibara”)

Found this plant too growing in the wild and picked up a few branches. Rosa multiflora is grown as an ornamental plant. It is also used as rootstock for grafting roses. I’m not sure how well it propagates, but I intend to try with the seeds I picked up!

Until the next post, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and season’s greetings!

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December 2009