Sunday, March 21, 2010

sprouting and flowering

Golden Currant cherry tomato the first out of the gates on March 19 followed by...
over half the Cherokee Purples and a bunch of others on the 20th.
Zucchini soil starting to rumble
Lebanese light green zucchini on March 19.
Black Beauty zucchini on March 20.
These are some cute little flowers from bulbs I planted last fall.
Anenome I bought this spring, because most of mine from a year ago didn't come up again this year.
I have had these in purple for the past two years and this past fall planted some pink bulbs.
The daffodils are just about at their peak.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 8 flowers

I took way too many photos on March 8. Lots of flowers, and then we had the big seed planting in the afternoon, too!

A look around the neighborhood flowers during Jackie's morning walk. This first photo is to show that I take these while holding the dog, so it is very difficult to get a good shot. She is a very sweet dog, but was abused and abandoned before we took her in and has serious emotional issues, including fear of almost everything (except children) which causes her to try to run away. Usually, while I am trying to get a photo.

Anyway, this is a nanohana. We meant to sow these along our embankment this year, but forgot. Next year!
These are from the garden plot to our east. That's our house in the background. Actually the lot next door has 4 plots. The people who use the plot closest to our house are wonderful and them giving us a big bag of snap peas when we came to look at the house pretty much made up my mind to buy it. The man with the middle plot lets it all go to towering weeds and only shows up on really beautiful days to ruin them for everyone else by spraying horrible smelly chemicals on his fruit trees. The people with the far side plots are also very nice.
And, in one of the far side plots, pink bachelor buttons are blooming!
And then I saw blue ones blooming, too, a bit further down the embankment.
For some reason our garden and embankment is always weeks behind the rest of our neighborhood. Here is one of our bachelor buttons...

Not even close! But, our efforts to get them to grow on our embankment have been paying off. For two years I have been pilfering seeds from the neighbors embankments and sowing them along ours while walking the dog, and my husband has been weedwacking away the past two years. This spring several plants are growing. Maybe in a few more weeks.

A cherry tree along the embankment in front of the weird guy's house is starting to bud. It really is spring!
Of course, the one flower of ours that is in sync with the rest of the neighborhood is the dandelion.

Back at home...
The new anenomes I bought this spring are about to bloom.
Mini tulip
surrounded by crocuses. I planted a bunch of mini tulips in here, but only one seems to have come up. These are at the base of the dead frog tree.
Grape hyacinths from my husband's friend (thank you, Lさん) are doing great.
More daffodils and narcissus are blooming.
My pansies I planted from seed are finally starting bloom, though the plants are still tiny. I mean, you can't even see any leaves here.
These weren't my favorite flower, but I made a pot of a yellow one, an orange one and daisies for the front of my classroom and they look so cheerful, I am really starting to like them.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Big Day in Gifu!

Yesterday was the day! The big event of the year! And I almost missed it...luckily, I married someone with a much better memory than myself. For some reason, I thought I planted tomatoes at the beginning of April last year, but no, my husband was right, it was March 1! Luckily, he kept nagging me to check, and I had recorded it on my blog. Yesterday was a perfect sunny, warm, not windy day for planting tomatoes.

This year, I convinced my husband to label all the tomatoes he planted. Last year, I labelled the ones I planted, but he didn't label his. He has a good memory, but last year he forgot which was which and this year we planted 112 of 18 different varieties, so there is no way anyone would remember.
M missed the tomato planting, but was home in time to do the artichokes (our new experimental vegetable for 2010, Cal Green Globe). Here she is sprinkling rice husks on top.
And next the first photo of our babies. 112 tomatoes and 8 zucchini in this photo.

Small tomato varieties include: jelly bean (red and yellow), sugar lump, black plum, chadwick's cherry, gold currant, sweet orange II, reisentraube. The last 5 are from seeds left over from last year, so we don't know if they will come up.
We also planted a grape tomato herein known as "jiichan (grandpa) tomato." This was our first attempt at tomato seed saving. Last year was a terrible year for tomatoes in Gifu. Most of ours didn't survive the summer and those that did, didn't produce very well. However, my father-in-law had one kind of grape tomato (he doesn't remember what kind he bought) that not only survived, but thrived and produced bushels of tomatoes. Okay, I admit, I don't know how much a bushel is, but he gave us two supermarket bags full a week from August until the end of November. They were very tasty, and were known in our house as "jiichan tomato".

Regular tomato varieties include: Cherokee Purple, Costoluto Genovese, Mortgage Lifter (I admit I got this one for the name), Money Maker (this was my favorite last year, but I only had 2 seeds, 1 plant, 2 tomatoes, but they were SOO good). Also seeds left over from last year: Black Krim, Marmande Super, Big Rainbow, Evergreen and Brandywine.

Two types of zucchini, Black Beauty (same as last year), and a new type for us, Lebanese Light Green.
And here they are in our itty bitty green house. After this we also planted cucumbers and artichokes, so the greenhouse is ready to burst. We want to get a bigger one, but have no good place to put it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Purple rain, purple rain

Spring arrived in Gifu at the end of February, and, keeping with tradition, there has been a lot of rain. Nice, ground soaking, helping plants (including weeds, unfortunately) grow type rain.
This is our little Japanese dogwood (yamaboshi). It is just outside the back door and is very happy there, but never grows. We wonder if it needs a bit of competition to encourage it to reach for the sun.
Warning Warning! Graphic photo follows! Those who are recuperating from operations may wish for their fuzzy vision back...

We have these birds, I have no idea what they are called in English, but in the summer they hunt frogs and birds and store them for safe keeping on various tree branches throughout the yard. But they are busy taking care of baby birds and get a bit forgetful (we know how that is). As a result, we have slowly mummifying frogs impaled on various tree branches around the yard. Lovely!

We used to keep our umbrella stand outside the front door. Well, one rainy day, running late as usual, I grabbed our umbrellas, wrangled the girls into the car and pulled into the parking lot of their preschool, which was full of other harried, slightly damp mothers and children. I whipped out my umbrella and popped it open. SCREEEECH! Impaled on my umbrella spoke, right in front of my eyes was...

Well, almost exactly the same. Of course, no one else saw the nasty dead frog, they just saw (and heard) the crazy foreign mom having a fit in the parking lot shaking her umbrella like a madwoman. Oh well, I have gotten used to standing out.

So now we keep our umbrella stand INSIDE. The trees, however, remain ghoulishly decorated.

Back to the rain...
One of our two camellia trees, tucked into the gaps between buildings where they can hardly be seen. Some day, maybe 20 years from now, they will look lovely from the road when they get tall enough to be seen.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spelling and bugs

This was our broccoli 2 weeks ago, just before the recent warm spell. For over a month it was in a holding pattern, not growing at all and we kept thinking we should wait for the heads to get a little bit bigger before picking. Now they are all on the verge of flowering, so after holding out for so long we have broccoli at least 2 meals a day (I would try broccoli bread, but L is allergic, so our breakfast is still spinach bread). Does anyone else have a really hard time spelling broccoli? I never seem to get it right. Perhaps if I keep writing about it, it will eventually sink in. My husband could never remember which was broccoli and which was cauliflower, but after 2 years of gardening he never gets them wrong. He still can't keep his left and right straight though :)
Last of the hakusai (nappa). The few that are left are ready to bolt. The bugs really got to them, even in the dead of winter (though this Connecticutie can't REALLY say that winter in Gifu gets dead, even this year which is the coldest since I've been here). I don't know what horrible chemicals they must use on the hakusai in the stores and farmers' market to have them looking so perfect. The bugs think they are the yummiest thing in the garden.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Guardian of the Garden

With a face like that, I don't really think she will manage to scare away any robbers. In fact, we are rather hoping they might help themselves to some broccoli which is all about to flower.
Peas are starting to sprout in the plot next door.
Which my husband, the human-rotatiller has been busy expanding...
I tackled some weeding. I started with the lawn. See all those green bits. Those are weeds.
I did about a third and gave up. I figure the grass will turn green in a few more months and then the weeds won't stand out so much.
I turned my attention to the weeds in the flower beds.
My mini irises are starting to bloom.
And the white narcissus are getting close to blooming, too.
Flower bed post-weeding. The daffodils will be blooming soon!
I moved two extra sweet peas to the back of this flower bed. I wonder if this blue hibiscus tree is still alive?
I moved most of these hardy yellow flowers to the embankment where they can multiply to their hearts' content. They are a bit much for the flower beds.
Last year I got some mystery osteospermum from the weird little flower shop I frequent. When they bloomed, some of them were pretty, but one had these weird pinched petals that reminded me of a clown. I didn't have the heart to outright murder it, so I moved it to an out of the way, partially shady, totally sandy and devoid of nutrient corner. Well, it turns out that it loves partial shade, total sand and no nutrients! Look at how it has thrived, threatening to engulf this baby camellia tree.
And it is about to bloom. If I am not mistaken, I think its petals might not even be pinched any more!
One of its sisters which stayed in the flower bed has also started to bloom.