Sunday, August 1, 2010

Garden Round Up: Tokyo

Vegetable gardens, when productive, can be extremely productive. Some people are so overflowing with green peppers and squash and zucchinis that they can't give them away fast enough. When they are non-productive, you'll sit there nursing your one and only vegetable only to have it stop growing at half size and fall off the plant before you ever had a chance to eat it.

This year I had a lot of success with strawberries, potatoes, and tomatoes. On the other end of the spectrum, my green peppers and watermelon were merely decorative. I also had a few unexpected plants show up, like the new avocado tree. If I needed to survive on only my plants, I would not have made it.

However, I learned a few things.
  • The pepper prefers to be closer to the veranda wall where there is more morning sun. Although the afternoon sun is longer, it is dimmer and less direct than the morning sun.
  • I need to teach people taking care of my tomatoes *how* to remove the "waki me". I had a very productive year, but because one branch grew out of the side, I spent a lot of time trying to find ways to prop it up. I should have been spending that time eating more tomatoes.
  • Watermelons need to be started earlier. If left to their own devices, they will sprout a month too late and won't reach maturity in time to harvest. Also, they probably need better soil and more room to grow.
  • Strawberry plants die. I didn't think about this until just this summer when all the plants that bore fruit this spring dried up and died. The one that didn't produce any fruits at all is thriving and is currently sending out runners. I'll catch these and start again next year. I may try a different pot and retire the one I'm using now.
  • Potatoes need more time. I probably harvested them too early. They were small, but they were tasty! Next year I'll wait a little longer before pulling them up.
The garden in Japan is still producing tomatoes and everyone over there is enjoying them. I had a couple before I left and thought they were a bit tough and sour. I bet if I waited just a couple days longer they would have tasted much better.

That's it for this year. I'll be heading back in December, so the next time I write about it, I'll be deciding what to plant in the winter. I'm thinking of a few things, but it'll take a little more research to do it right. More than anything else, I've found that planning and research leads to better results than seat-of-the-pants gardening. Planting is fun, but harvesting is better.

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