Dec 27, 2012

Winter harvest

 I and my wife are delighted with beautifully grown Chinese cabbages and gingers. We see the great harvest as our best Christmas present!

 As I mentioned in the previous blog, I tried to minimized usage of chemical things like pesticide and the beautiful cabbages show us my try is successful. All of my 5 Chinese cabbages have no damage by aphids and much fewer holes by young worms than in last year.
 It's my first try to growing gingers but it's easier than I thought. I just payed attention only to watering since gingers hate dryness.
 I planted only golf-ball sized seed ginger and it's amazing to see "multiplied gingers " from the small seed ginger. My wife will preserve sliced ginger in honey to add it to tea.
 I have to admit I failed to grow my daikon radishes due to severe attack by aphids. I installed insect screens but I did't realized big holes on them! When I found the holes, many aphids hibernate on leaves of my radishes. They sucked the radish extract and most of the leaves were dead and that could cause the poor harvest.

Christmas harvests:

・Chinese cabbage
・Daikon radishes

Dec 16, 2012

Winter sowing

 Some weather reports say this winter will be MUCH colder than the average of the last 5 years so I have to have some methods for expediting germination even in a cold weather.

 Today I sowed spinach and pak-choi. They can be sown through a year but some measures have to be installed for them in a cold winter. A vinyl tunnel is one of my favorite and effective ways, which is easy to set up.
 Setting up a vinyl tunnel is so easy that you don't need any instruction for it! We need just a rolled vinyl sheet, a set of 2 semi-sphere plastic poles and clothes-pegs.
 The vinyl tunnel can warm up the air inside effectively and I measured the temperature and found about 5゜C warmer than outside. In one of my tunnels I set up, spinach have germinated even in chilly days.

-- iPhone

My cabbages

 My 8 Chinese cabbages and 4 cabbages including a purple cabbage have grown with less damage by bugs thanks to insect screen, companion plants, and yellow buckets than in last year and they'll be harvested around Christmas.

 I found less damage in my Chinese cabbages ,which used to be an easy target for young worms and aphids. I believe the romaine lettuces, which were planted as companion plants, are effective to ward off young worm. The yellow buckets are also effective, too I believe. Aphids hibernate inside of Chinese cabbages which is comfortable for them to keep warm and they suck cabbage extract  there. That can cause poor growth. The yellow buckets can allure many aphids into the buckets and the insect screen physically shut them out.
 It's fortunate that there are less damage by bugs but I'm not satisfied with the growth of my cabbages. They have beautifully shaped hearts but the size are smaller than I expect. I don't think they can grow any more so I'll harvest them in a few days.

-- iPhoneから送信

Dec 10, 2012

The Fruits Hunters.

 It's very regrettable that I've been absent from blogging for the last one month and a half since I was so busy in my business. Now I can managed to have spare time to blog so I hope many blogging friends will visit my blog again.

 As the weather getting cold, around the end of November, my family visit my father in law living in Nara, the city famous as an ancient capital of Japan, for helping him with harvesting persimmon fruits and kiwi fruits. There are many persimmon trees in the backyard and kiwi trees in his garden. He can't harvest them since his right size is paralyzed due to a stroke. That's why we help him every year and we have another reason. My kids are excited with the Fruits Hunting.

 When we saw the persimmon trees, we were shocked with less fruits on the trees than in last year. You can see easily how less the fruits is. But my kids were so helpful that they cooperated with us and my sister in law. You know why? Because they worked for "the sweet fruits of labor".
 Persimmon fruits are located on high branches and twigs so a tool called "a long-handled lopper" (one of my blogging friends taught the English name.)  is so convenient that we can harvest persimmon fruits efficiently. Even my daughter can prune and catch the fruits on the ground as the photo shown below.
My kids cooperated in harvesting the fruits.
 The total amount of the persimmon fruits was less than 1/3 of last year's harvest. My father in law said there is some kind of cycle in the amount of fruits. We don't know what works on the cycle but temperature, weather, and precipitation might affect the cycle.
 We love sweet persimmon fruits and wild birds love them, too! They seem to be able to pick sweet ones instinctively!
 After harvesting them, we peeled and serve them with hot green tea. The tea's bitter taste go well with the sweet fruits.

--from iPad

Oct 21, 2012

Recipe collection vol.6 / Sweet potato tarts

 My recipe of sweet potato tarts is so easy that everyone can make them successfully!

Ingredients for 12 tarts or 4 adults:

1 sweet potato - 400 gr

2 sugar - 60 gr
3 fresh cream - 10 cc
4 milk - 10 cc
5 salt-free butter - 30 gr

5 vanilla essence - a few drops
6 a small spoonful of rum
7 a yellow of an egg


1 Slice sweet potatoes to 1cm thick.

2 Boil the sliced potatoes till they become so soft that you can skewer them easily. 
3 Mash the potatoes thoroughly
4 Add salt-free butter, fresh cream, milk and sugar and mix them up thoroughly. After cooling down, you can add the yellow of an egg, vanilla essence and rum into potato and mix them up again.
5 Fill the mixture into molds with a pastry bag
7 Bake them in a toaster oven for about 7 minutes and serve them with tea!

Oct 20, 2012

Harvesting sweet potatoes with my daughter

 After autumn rainy days, it was so fine today without any crowds in Osaka and was the best time to harvest my sweet potatoes, which planted about 4 months ago. My daughter was more cooperative in helping me harvest them than usual since she loves sweet potatoes and was looking forward to harvesting and tasting them for long time! Look at her digging out the potatoes with a shovel. She looks like a treasure hunter, doesn't she? 
When she found "one of her treasures", she screamed "Yeaaaaah!!!, got it!!"
 Eventually, we dug about 30 sweat potatoes and most of them were about 20 cm long or longer. This was the first time for me to grow sweet potatoes and I believe it was successful.
 Actually, I planted 3 types of sweet potatoes, Beniazuma, Annou and Naruto-Kintoki. Can you distinguish them? Beniazuma has a little red peel so it's easy to see them but other ones look almost same. 

 After harvesting them, I dried them in shade to sweeten them. The process can vaporize water in the potatoes and we can enjoy sweeter potatoes in a few days.

Oct 14, 2012

Autumn seeding

 As the temperature in Osaka goes down, many gardeners around me start sowing and planting autumn and winter vegetables. I was thinking when I should start autumn seeding this year while I was too busy even to write my blog. But I realized it is in the mid of October and I had to be hurry in seeding the vegetables. Today I and my daughter went to my gardening plot and sowed seeds of daikon radishes and planted 4 Chinese cabbages and 1 cabbage.

 My daughter, who is my reliable helper, seems to be well-experienced enough to create a seeding grid in order to sow the seeds in right places without my help.

My daughter's artwork
I usually sow 3 daikon seeds in a hole and will thin out to leave only the most prospective one.
I'm looking forward to harvesting them in this December. 

Along with the daikon radishes, I planted 4 Chinese cabbages and 1 cabbage on my last planting ridge. My garden is now full of kinds of autumn-winter vegetables such as Chinese cabbages, cabbages, daikon radishes, pak-chois and gingers.

Sep 24, 2012

Installing new methods

 It's difficult for novice gardeners like me to pursuing 100% organic gardening but I believe pursuing 80%~90% organic gardening can be feasible with installing new methods to decrease usage of chemical things like pesticide.

 I install 2 new methods, companion planting and yellow buckets.

 I planted romaine lettuces beside Chinese cabbages for warding off young worms which like to eat Chinese cabbages. Romaine lettuces can fume odor which young worms hate so they can't get close to planting ridges where the lettuces are planted.

 My 2nd method is placing yellow buckets beside my vegetables.

 It took 1 week since I had installed them and I found them very effective to repel aphids!
As I mentioned on my previous blog, aphids can be allured by yellow color. And I found hundreds of aphids were drown in water in the yellow buckets and no aphids on my vegetables!

Both of the methods are reasonable and cheep to install so I would like you to try them.

Sep 9, 2012

Launching the Cabbage Project in 2012

The temperature in Osaka is slowly but steadily going down after September began while it is still hot recording up to 32degrees C (90degrees F). In a morning and evening, the temperature become so cool that even young sprouts can bear with the hot daytime. It's the best time to launch my Cabbage Project of this autumn and winter season.

Today I went to a local sprout shop, bought sprouts of 5 cabbages, 5 Chinese cabbages(Hakusai-cabbages), and turnip seeds and planted all of them in my gardening plots.

My daughter rushed into a vinyl green house where sprouts are growing to pick up healthy ones as soon as we arrived the shop. My rule for picking up healthy sprouts is "No hole and No discoloration on leaves". Holes on the leaves means some small bugs might live in a planting pod and the discoloration shows the sprouts might be not healthy. My daughter knows the rules and the first-come-first-sold basis in the shop. So as the photo shows, she was checking healthy ones following the rules.

Of course, I had to verify her picks and there was no hole and no discoloration on the leaves. Great job, my daughter!
I planted all of the sprouts on my planting ridges, covered the ridges with rice husks, and set up insect screens.
I suffered from many aphids on cabbages last year so I tried a new measure for warding off aphids. A yellow plastic bucket is useful for capturing aphids which have a habit of preferring yellow color according to some gardening magazines.
They say that aphids can be allured by the yellow color, dive into the water of the bucket and drawn.
In a few minutes after installing the bucket, 3 aphids were found dead in the water! I can rely on the measure for repelling aphids!

Aug 23, 2012

The Hot Stuff

 Ahhhh,,,,just hot, very hot and scorchingly hot! I had to cultivate my planting ridges and to add organic fertilizer and to set up "a Hot Stuff" for autumn and winter vegetables like cabbages. I'll tell you the hot stuff later but anyway, I had to harvest my eggplants and pull the trees out for securing space for next vegetables.
 I was a little hesitated to pull them out since more and beautiful eggplants had seen recently and I assumed that it would be worth of growing them but I had to be dare to throw them away for my most favorite vegetable, a Chinese cabbage.
 Cultivating the ridges and mixing the soil, fertilizer, oil cakes and leaf mold in that hot day was torturous. Many people were killed with heat stroke in this summer in Japan while they were working outside like gardens, and construction sites. I drank water so often for avoiding heat stroke and could managed to end the cultivation.

 And here is "my Hot Stuff ", transparent multi-sheets. It's my first try but I learned the method from some gardening magazine. I know many gardeners suffer bugs like caterpillars, young worms of moths which can eat up our vegetables. The method is reportedly so effective to kill them. The temperature of the soil covered with the sheets can be too hot for those bugs to survive. It's more effective to cover the soil for about 1 month in the hot summer, not only for killing bugs but weed seeds, the magazine says. I've suffer many bugs on my cabbages and Hakusai cabbages every year so I hope the method can decrease damage caused by the bugs and usage of pesticides.

Aug 19, 2012

Pulling out cucumbers with my daughter

 Helping me in my garden in the mid of hot August shows my daughter's attitude toward gardening, I believe.

 Today's weather was so hot and humid that I sweated so much even when I just walked to my garden but my daughter, who is in her summer holiday, loves to work with me in my garden and pulled out my cucumbers and the plastic poles. Her good help could save my working time. My cucumber's leaves began turning brown since the mid of July and the fruits also grew halfway. That's is the sign saying the cucumber was close to death. So I decided to pull them out.

 I harvested about 50 cucumbers from the 3 trees. I believe they could give a bumper harvest and my vegetable space in my fridge was full of them. After pulling them out, I added fertilizer, cow manure and ash powder to the place for the cucumbers and mix them up for the next autumn vegetables like Chinese cabbages(Hakusai cabbages), which my daughter loves.

 As my summer vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes have gone, my eggplants have grown well and my daughter feels it joyful to harvesting some of the fruits. I planted different breed of eggplants which can have long fruits. You can see the difference of length between a long one and usual one.

Aug 14, 2012

Digging sweet potatoes for a test

Most of workers in Japan are having the Buddhism holidays this week and they usually go back to their home town to spend the holidays with their parents relaxing themselves. My family are also staying at my parents' home watching the Olympic games, eating and drinking. But my vegetables don't have the holidays. They need water and care everyday while my summer vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes are getting weak due to scorching sunlight. I have to pull them out and prepare soil for next autumn vegetables like cabbages, pakchoi and Chinese cabbages.
My sweet potatoes are growing healthy and the extension of their vines shows that. For seeing how big the potoroos are, I digged some of them out. I got 2 sweet potatoes and they are as big as my hand having small roots around them. They are still young and I have to wait for at least a month. I've not cared the sweetpotatoes so much with watering them twice a week since they are so strong that they can grow in harsh environment with less care than other vegetables.

Therefore I don't need go to my gardening plot everyday during the Buddhism holidays thanks to the sweet potatoes.

--from iPad

Aug 6, 2012

Boiling sweet corns

"Sweet corns should be boiled as soon as you've harvested them"

That's what my wife's aunt, my gardening teacher, said me. Harvested corns can loose water faster than we expect. That's why my teacher advised me. Today I harvested 2 fresh sweet corns and followed her advice.

 I pour water and the sweet corns in a deep pan, added some spoonfuls of salt and boiled them for 3 minutes. I used a dish as a weight for pressing the sweet corns to boil the whole part of them.
 Water in corns determines the freshness. So I wrapped them with plastic wrapping sheet and store them in my fridge. They will be served in today's dinner.