Sunday, March 24, 2013

The 2013 spring crop

This season we are sticking with a few favorites and trying a new vegetable.


As before, strawberries are always welcome and this year we've got a brand new planter for them.

The planter is terra cotta, which will absorb and hold heat. Also, it is tiered to allow plants at different levels to receive even amount of sun without getting shaded by each other. This kind of planter seems to be very productive, according to the ones I've seen around.

We've got 5 plants of two types planted. In the center are two small akihime plants. This is a challenging type, but the fruits are extremely sweet and fragrant. In the three outer pockets are tough and tall beni-hoppe strawberry plants. This type is easier to grow and should be very productive.


In three planters a few feet away, I've started some avocados. I love growing them, and I love eating them. My wife doesn't seem to appreciate them as much as I do, so I had to start these seeds in secret.

The one in the middle has sprouted and is making some vertical headway. The others are still unsprouted. I will not be expecting too much and won't feel too bad if I have to grind these into mulch later if they don't start soon.

The soil they are in is full of uprooted plants from around the garden, which is why it looks like such a mess. It's just extra mulch, as far as I'm concerned.


Although it's a bit early, I planted a handful of miniature sunflower seeds. During some spring cleaning, I found a package of seeds from eight years ago.

If something comes up, I'll be happy. If nothing comes up, I can't say I was expecting anything from these 8 year old seeds. This planter is actually my mulching planter, so if the seeds are dead they will just get turned into the mulch and will find life as the soil for some other plant.


The big new crop we're trying is corn. With spring two weeks early in Tokyo, the timing is just right to start some corn for an early summer crop.

This is the main planter with two corn plants expected. Under the surface sprouts are just becoming visible.

In addition, I've started a bunch of corn seeds in a starter tray. 

To protect the seeds from the wind and from drying out, I placed the instant shelter over them.


Finally, in addition to fruits and vegetables, my son brought home a pot of anemones from school.

These flowers add a splash of color to all the brown soil and terra cotta. It's nice to have something nice in the veranda garden, even if it is only aesthetic. If the sunflowers don't sprout, I've given a bit of thought to getting some other flowers to keep the anemones company.


Thank you for coming back to the Veranda Gardening blog. It's been a while, definitely. I am looking forward to learning about how corn grows this season. If things go right, I'm hoping to have a weekly update of all the plants around the garden!

Starting over

Since the last time I wrote in this blog over two years ago, I was looking forward to a new growing season in Tokyo starting in the spring. However on March 11 Japan was hit by the largest earthquake in modern times and a tsunami 30 meters high. This did not happen near Tokyo, but the effect shook the whole country.

Worse, and the reason I haven't written anything, is that soon after the earthquake the Fukushima nuclear reactors failed in the worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl. The land immediately around the reactor is irradiated and will be unusable for production for the next several hundred years. The dust plume caused by the Fukushima explosion spewed radioactive material, cesium mostly, into the atmosphere and that material settled throughout the eastern Japan area. Tokyo was also dusted with this material.

So instead of starting up a new crop in the spring of 2011, I sent my family to Seattle for several months to wait out the initial dust plume and I refrained from planting anything that could be contaminated by the radioactive fallout.

The dust has settled, and the concern about radioactivity in the Tokyo area has also settled. Two years later, it's time to restart.