Winter update and further experiments with seeds

Readers might be wondering what has happened to my veggie patch – the last few posts I have focused on hikes and seed experimentation. My small veggie patch is doing as well as it can with the limited sunlight it gets. Here’s what it looks like:


I have laid out the traditional Japanese “wara” (straw) between the onion seedlings to protect them against frost, and a tunnel over cabbages and fava beans. Because of the poor sunlight in winter, growth is rather slow. I have plans to rent additional space to grow vegetables and flowers and am likely to grow busier outdoors from spring onward.

I did consider using reflecting material to redirect sunlight on the windows of the upper storeys of my house on to the veggie patch, but in the meanwhile, I found a site about a 15-minute drive from my house that would serve both as a work place (for my translation work) and with adequate space for gardening!

I have made rough plans too, on what to plant at the new location, and this will be the topic of another post.

Last week I visited my friend’s (Utiyama-san) garden and was presented with several kinds of seeds from the plants in the garden.

Japanese Quince

Japanese Quince fruit with seeds

The first was a “Boke” (Japanese Quince) fruit that revealed gleaming black seeds. This is a flowering tree that yields a fruit (astringent, so I didn’t try to eat it). It appears that one can use the Boke plants for bonsai too, so I promptly planted four of these in my vinyl pots containing seed mix. Let’s see whether they’ll root.

Cherokee rose

Rose hip of the Rosa laevigata (Cherokee rose)

I cut open the thorny rose hip carefully and found 3 large seeds and several hairlike seeds with black dot. Are these baby seeds that will grow? I’m not sure. I retained these also and am looking for further information. If you do have photos or information on what the seeds of a Cherokee rose look like, do send them to me.



 Hawthorn – a member of the rose family

I also picked up a few berry-like seeds from a plant growing in his garden said to give cheery flowers in summer. I didn’t catch the Japanese name at first, so I took the photo with the seeds above and posted it to him for confirmation. Learnt that the name in Japanese was “sanzashi” which translates to Hawthorn. Planted all five of the hard seeds and am eagerly awaiting results.


Japanese Sarcandra (“Senryou”)

Finally, the seeds of the Japanese Sarcandra – a plant that yields red berries in winter and is typically found in many Japanese houses and gardens. This plant is supposedly difficult to grow from seeds – so I’ll be delighted to see any sign of life in the coming weeks.


Have a nice day!

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12 Responses to “Winter update and further experiments with seeds”

  1. January 27, 2010 at 3:44 am

    I’m so happy to discover your blog. I;m also a Non-Japanese living in Japan a few months of each year, and stumbling on urban edible gardens is my big joy (see my blog in October 2009)

    As a balcony garden designer, Ive found the reflection you get by positioning mirrors, etc. moves so quicky, you are reminded of how fast the earth is hurtling though space. Still, Id love to hear if you find workable ways to increase your gardening area. I think just volunteering to take over a neighbours spot is the best.

    Maybe one day we will meet up, do a Japanese Permablitz together.

    • January 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      Nice to meet you, Cecilia. I have managed to hire gardening space equivalent to about 8-10 times my present garden area from this spring onward, not far from my house. I’m looking forward with excitement to growing a lot more organic vegetables, fruits and flowers. I’m also keen to grow perennial flowers and bushes so that they act as a windscreen to the vegetable plots. I look forward to your inputs and maybe meeting you when you come to Japan.

  2. January 27, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Good Morning: Just stopped by to see what was up. Like your small space garden, assuming its about 10 10 feet.

    Have a good day, see you next time,

  3. January 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    John, thanks for dropping by. Yes, it is around 10 ft by 10 ft only. I have a few small patches at other locations in the garden.
    Lovely snowy photos – looks clean and fresh. Nice sunny morning to you too!

  4. January 31, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I am amazed at your work with seeds. Good luck with the Sarcandra. I look forward to seeing its progress. Pam

  5. February 3, 2010 at 12:00 am

    It’s good to see you’ve got a nice selection of veg going there. I thought I had a small area, but 10 x 10 feet; that’s small! Good luck with the new larger plot!

    • February 3, 2010 at 12:31 am

      Yes, it is quite small. I have some other small plots in the garden, but very little sunlight. From March, I should have a larger plot and can grow more veggies. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. February 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for your welcome! I too have (or will have) the winter ‘sun’ issue… once it gets to November or so, that back garden, which is melty hot sun in the summer, turns primarily to shade. It makes for difficult decisions on what to plant.

  7. February 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I am new here just followed one of your comments somewhere. I like the way you make the most of little places, i feel guilty that we have lots of space but maximize it. I always want to do some cultivating but have never been to fruition. Congratulations for fruitfully executing yours.

  8. 11 David Goodfellow
    January 20, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    I live in the south of France. I am a semi-retired horticulture prof. I am trying to get Sarcandra seeds for my small garden and wonder if you would like to swap some for gardening advice. I know a lot about growing plants from seed.

    • January 25, 2016 at 4:45 am

      Hello David,
      I am presently in India and will be back in Japan only in April/May. I’ll try to look around for the seeds you asked for. I have never sent seeds overseas; are you aware of the procedure for sending seeds through postal services?

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