Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 30

I know I am supposed to let the daffodil leaves go completely brown before cutting them, but I just couldn't stand the mess any more, and cleaned out the south flower bed. Hopefully this will give the nasturtiums and petunias more sun so that they will actually grow. The lilies in the back will start blooming in another week or two.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tomatoes and Zucchini

We have baby tomatoes! Here is a "father-in-law" grape tomato...
A Sweet Orange II (mini)...
And some random tomatoes plants from the west plot. Tomatoes in the front, beans mid-right, potatoes rear right, and carrots rear left...
Here's my one Brandywine tomato plant this year. Didn't get any last year, hoping for better luck this time. I find it so interesting how it has potato leaves.
And this is a Money Maker that got guillotined. I left the single remaining leaf from the bottom, and sure enough, it is making a new little shoot. I am hoping this will grow up and become a tomato plant...
And our zucchini is doing really well. Of course it always does at first, and then gets done in by a weird lumpy white stem mold. This time I have three staggered plantings, so hopefully we will have zucchini until July at least. You can see the big ones on the right and babies on the left.
This one is the most productive so far...
A view from below...
And our first proper zucchini harvest!

More Wildlife

Since my last wildlife post was wildly popular, I thought I would do another.

Bad news first. Evil-orange-squash-eating bugs. Does anyone know what they are called? More importantly, does anyone have a good (preferably non-poisonous) method of killing them? Here is a side view of one munching on a Jack Be Little pumpkin leaf...
The past few years were terrible for orange bugs. This year, the guy with the plot next to us planted kabocha, and they were all eaten practically to the roots, despite the fact that he sprayed them. Strangely, we had far fewer this year. I wonder if they PREFER pesticide-laced leaves? But, after they have destroyed his third planting, he has given up on squash, and they have come to us again.

My method of orange bug control is not very effective, but very entertaining for my neighbors. I chase them around with one of those bug zapper rackets, shock them, and then grind them with the toe of my shoe. If anyone has a better way, I would love to hear it.

Here is another orange bug, resting on an undokobyo (powdery mildew?) infected pink.
On to better bugs...
I was jealous of my husband's bee photo, so I took one of my own. This is some sort of tiny Australian flower I bought at the garden store, it comes in yellow and purple.
And, since the turtle was a big hit. I thought I would show you another. This one must have somehow come up from the river, crossed the neighbor's garden, crossed the street, realized there was no where to go from there, and turned back. I found it along the side of the house, just as I was going to take the dog for a walk. Here it is headed for our yard...
I took the dog out the other way (from the embankment) and by the time we got back, the turtle was gone. I searched the yard for it, and found it huddled behind the doghouse. I guess it looked like a safe place. Ooops. The dog got another walk (lucky) and came back to find the turtle wedged between the compost bin and the fence, trying to get out to the embankment, so I picked her up and carried her over by the river. Here is a shot of her by the side of the house from the other direction.
As for other wildlife encounters.... I went to hang the towels over the rail, and was surprised to see...
And from the other side...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26

Our artichokes plants are growing. You can kind of see a ladybug on the leaf in the middle...
These are the Jack Be Little mini pumpkins in front of the classroom.
And the big pumpkins, starting to become actual vines.
First cosmos!
My husband insists ALL clover is inherently evil, but I quite like these pink ones and usually leave them be.
Our yamaboshi (Japanese dogwood) is so healthy and in full flower, but never grows any taller. We meant it to help shade the living room, but at this point are wondering if it will ever top 3ft. I guess it is happy and has no competition, so no need to grow tall.
My husband got some waterlilies at Farmer's Market. Looking forward to seeing how they do. He and the girls caught medaka (little fish) from the river to help control the mosquitos.

Catching Up

Here are some random photos from last week (5/20 and 5/22).

This is the west plot. A few of the potatoes in the lower left, green beans, lots of tomatoes, some eggplant, peppers, and sweet potatoes back where my husband is standing.
The artichokes have doubled in size since I took this photo 5 days ago. So have the weeds ):
Peas, peas, peas! I love snap peas! My favorite vegetable. I think we will get maybe another week if we are lucky.
The onions are coming along. We have to figure out where we can hang them to dry.
The three sisters. Two sisters at the moment. The pumpkins are growing, but the corn is not. This could be a problem.
The zucchini is thriving! I am going to pick our first pollinated zucchini for our spaghetti tonight. I will post photos later.
Finally planted the next round of okra on the weekend. Same place as last year, but I think it will be okay. My husband added lots of compost and manure.
The strawberries are doing pretty well despite being in a muddy, shady, weedy, nutrient poor, and generally ignored corner. Some taste better than others. I think we will have to dig them up this winter and do them properly next year.
I was very happy about these pink flowers (Oenothera) I often buy seed packets hoping that they are the same as the flowers I saw by the side of the road or in someone else's garden and 90% of the time I am completely wrong. This time I got it right! I think (I hope)they go wild and re-seed on their own.

Pansies are still plugging along beneath the pink flower leaves.
Our neighbors let their mizuna go to flower. I didn't realize that mizuna made such pretty flowers! We will have to let ours flower next year.
My campanula are really flowering now. I planted a mix of white, pink, and purple, but only seem to have raised purple. Oh well, at least it is my favorite color!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It is turtle egg laying season again. Our dog practically broke my neck in her eagerness to check out this turtle on our embankment the other day. We made sure that dogs and children watched from a considerable distance. M commented, "Mommy, turtles lay eggs so slowly!" Yeah, well, it took some time for her to be born, too, as I recall...
We have lots of ladybugs this year. Unfortunately, I think it maybe because we have so many aphids.
And lots of other weird and wonderful bugs have been making an appearance recently, too. Also less wonderful is the start of mosquito and evil-orange-squash-destroying-bug season.
My husband took this photo of a bee. Luckily, we seem to have lots of these.
My husband also took this photo yesterday from our yard. Birds Birds Birds.
And, finally, it seems to be a bumper year for frogs. The girls find them all over the place. Big sister frog...
And little sister frog...
We even had a baby frog on the inside of our toilet window last night.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Despite being completely neglected, in a shady corner in rather hardpacked sand with virtually no nutrients our strawberries managed to produce a fair number of strawberries this year. There were even a few left over for us after the birds and bugs took their share.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why do girls mature faster?

My three year old daughter has a big crush on the boy who sits across from her at preschool. "Mommy, T-kun is such a nice guy." She chooses hair accessories every morning with him in mind ("Mommy, do you you think T-kun will think this is cute?") Today was parent observation day and I saw her gaze at him coquettishly and turn to the girl next to her and giggle. Meanwhile, T-kun still cries at the gate every morning when his mom drops him off, and seems completely oblivious to L's affections.

My zucchini flowers are likewise maturing at different rates. A week ago, the females started flowering. Not a male bud in sight.
Without any male flowers ready to take responsibility for fathering a zucchini, I had to pick them while still tiny, or watch them rot.
Two days ago, the males started flowering, but had no pollen. Finally, today, two male flowers with pollen all grown up and ready to be daddies. Hopefully, in a few more days we will have several growing zucchini. Here is a Black Beauty...
And a Lebanese light green.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

cool and breezy

The first summer I spent in Gifu it was over 30C (85F) from May 1 until mid October. And most of it was well over 30C. That was also the last summer I spent the entire summer in Gifu. "Never again," thought this Connecticutie. This year, however, I could possibly consider it. It is cool, downright chilly at times and we are already in mid-May. (Don't worry, Mom, of course we are going to the US)

Today was not only cool (in the teens!) but windy. Seriously windy. Majorly-regretting-having-planted-the-poor-defenseless-tomatoes-out-in-the-fields windy.

Here is our red maple in its new location at the bottom of the embankment (near the pumpkin patch).
And here are the poor defenseless tomatoes. Not only was it windy, we planted them diagonally, as I have read you are meant to do to help the roots expand. This means they were not centered in the hole. Well, this is a newly made field (thanks to my husband!) and still full of weeds. The weeds have grown since we planted the tomatoes 5 days ago, and have lifted up the black plastic. You can sort of see in this photo...
That, combined with the wind and....
I spiked it down after the fact. I know it is too late, but we'll probably put a new one in here.

The potatoes don't mind the wind. We are starting to "worry" that with so much going on above, there may not be much happening below. But given the number of potatoes that were planted, this may prove to be a good thing!
The zucchinis were whipped about a bit, but seem to be hanging in. Two baby zucchinis will probably flower tomorrow, but there are no male flowers yet. Why are the boys always so slow to develop?
And here is our future three sisters plantings so far. Corn and pumpkins. We have the timing a bit wrong. Should have planted the corn sooner. Did, in fact, plant the corn sooner, but it all got eaten before it sprouted. We will add climbing beans, too.
The cornflowers in the yard have started to flower. And Bagus likes to pretend he is in a prison with a nice view.
But we do let him roam free, see...
The chives are flowering away. These look really pretty on salads. We eat immense salads daily. By "we", of course, I mean the girls and I eat 10% and my husband eats the remainder.
One of these blue flowers must have self seeded from last year and is blooming amongst the balloon flower foliage.
The dark pink osteospermum looked like they might not survive the winter, but they did and are blooming their little hearts out now.