Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bits and pieces

My store bought pansies are doing fairly well this year despite the unusually cold winter.
But once again, the pansies I started from seed are doing a whole lot of nothing. They got a few leaves and then just stopped. I don't know if they will start growing again when the sun comes back or what.
The stalk is the only other flower (other than camelia) that is in bloom right now.
The mums were finished, I pulled them and the girls made lots of flower soup in thier sandbox kitchen.
My husband gave the mallow trees a good trim.
The lettuce is coming along well, hoping for salad days soon.
The broccoli is particularly sweet this year. I think it is the same type as last year, so I wonder if the cold makes it sweeter.
Spinach spinach spinach. I have told my husband he is NOT allowed to sow spinach anymore unless HE is in charge of the thinning/picking. He believes that he must sow every seed in the pack no matter how little space is available. I love spinach, but the amount of time I spend each day picking cleaning and preparing spinach is really absurd. We have spinach sauce spaghetti, spinach bread, spinach with mashed tofu, spinach salad, tuna spinach, spinach omelettes, you name it, we do it with spinach. Ah well, much better than daikon!
These are the birds (storks? herons? cranes? I really don't know my birds) by the river behind our house. We also have lots of cormorant (this IS Gifu, home of cormorant fishing). Not really relevant to the garden, though they do make a small contribution towards natural fertilizer on occasion (mostly on the cars, unfortunately). Despite the mess, they are amazing, I love watching them soar above as we garden. The government is concreting over the banks of most rivers in our area, so there aren't many places left for them to go. I hope they keep their bulldozers away from our river.
Not the greatest photos, but trying to photograph birds while walking a sweet, but emotionally disturbed dog, is really tricky.


Narcissus blooms in January here in Gifu. They are so pretty and cheerful, I would love to have large patches of them like our neighbors. But I think it will be a few years. Here are ours:
The girls love kinkan (kumquat?). We dream of a big kinkan tree like this someday...
But at least we got our first few kinkans this year.
When we moved in 2 years ago we saw the mikan (clementine?) trees next door
And planted ours with high hopes, still not a mikan to be seen.
However, the neighbor beyond planted her mikan tree the following year and look!
Lucky duck!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Today the yard, tomorrow the world!

This camelia is one of the few things in the garden that actually looks presentable, and it is facing the empty lot next door wedged between the school and shed where no one can see it. The store bought pansies are starting to come back after being squished beneath the snow, but once again I started pansies from seed too late and the seedlings are just sitting there not doing anything.

I did manage to get a bit of pruning done today and chop off all the dying mums. I am not super-fond of chrysanthymums, but they sure do love our garden. I do my best to kill them, but they come back stronger every year. Actually some of them were quite pretty. I did take photos while they were in their glory and will try to get around to posting those at some point.I didn't finish pruning though. What is with our rosemary? It grew like the dickens during December? Is this the usual season for growth spurts?Our kinkan (kumquat? maybe? They are like itty bitty oranges and you eat them whole) tree finally has actual kinkans this year. hooray!
The avacado and mango trees are surviving the winter well so far in our little greenhouse.

Here are some daikon growing, for those who are not familiar with daikon. I have to go figure out what to do with the other half of one that is sitting in our fridge tonight. Sigh.This is another photo of the area my husband built for the blueberry bushes and baby trees at the bottom of our side of the embankment. He hauled lots of dirt up from the river bank. All part of his plot to...

take over the world!!! Or maybe the neighborhood...

Here is the expansion so far. Out on the the embankment and down the other side. And nowinto the empty lot next door (with the owner's permission). We will stick to underground and inedibles here, however, because the guy with the plot next to this uses enormous amounts of chemicals. He lives a few blocks over, but must have a spy cam trained on my laundry poles, because he invariably shows up with huge tank fulls of noxious spray as soon as I hang out four loads of laundry and all the bedding. When there is a particularly well aimed wind he sometimes also burns plastic .
While I was hiding out at the computer upstairs the girls suddenly noticed I was missing. I heard them knock over the coat tree and found them ready to mount an expedition into the dark windy cold yard to find me. They seemed a bit confused about whose coat was whose.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


If anyone is dying to see how our pumpkins turned out, there are a few photos on my school blog:
We had 7 Howden pumpkins this year, and I have seven students! Perfect! We played toss the hula hoop around the pumpkin to choose pumpkins for carving.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!!

I'm back to blogging again after a long break! Sorry about that. I have a lot of catching up to do and will try to get around to posting fall photos at some point. But here we are at winter already. Gifu has had two snowfalls already this year. One in December (the girls and I were in the US and missed it) and another at New Year. The New Year snow is almost gone but we are expecting more tomorrow. During the past 11 years I have lived in Gifu, it has rarely snowed more than once a winter, so this is unusual. Though it snows, the temperature rarely drops below freezing, so the winter veggies manage to hang in under the snow until it melts. Here is an update on how they survived the most recent snowfall.Spinach. Oh spinach. We love to eat spinach. Good thing too. Boy do we ever have spinach. My husband and I disagree on what is a reasonable amount to plant in a given space. As of next year, he will be removed from seed sowing duties. Right now, he prepares the beds and sows the seeds. I thin, pick, and cook. This is a major problem, because he believes he must use all the seeds in the packet, no matter how many packets he buys or how much space is available, or how much spinach one family of four can reasonably be expected to consume. This is just one small bed of many. The spinach is hardy and got a bit flattened by the snow, but still tastes yummy.
Daikon. I told him not to plant daikon, as I am in charge of cooking and a few daikon go a long way. His father grows daikon and gives it to us. Does he listen to me? See above about finishing seed packets. Drowning in daikon are we. Anyone have any good daikon and/or spinach recipes to share?
Hakusai. The bugs got them at first, but they are doing better now that it is colder.
Lettuce from random left over seeds from last year (when I was in charge of seed sowing) doing well.
The broccoli is gorgeous and delicious. And in perfect moderation. Hooray!
Baby strawberries. These are new plants we bought in the fall that are in planters.
The strawberry plants that got accidently transplanted with the raspberries to the embankment are also starting to flower. This poor confused raspberry plant was actually raspberrying under the snow.
My husband built a reinforcement for the bottom of the north embankment and transplanted lots of his baby trees.
Including the red maple which was in middle of the back yard.
Today's harvest. I am off to cook it now.