Despite some crappy weather last weekend, I did manage to get my garden planted with help from my dad. The weather promptly got cold and rainy, but so far everything seems to be toughing out the iffy conditions. What the hell happened to spring?
The first two years after we moved into this house, I kept the garden in our small-but-sufficient-for-a-home garden yard. Last year one of my older neighbors, apparently after observing my previous efforts, offered to introduce me to another neighbor who could lend me a larger plot. I was all in for that.
So apparently the plot is mine in perpetuity, which is fine with me. It’s situated across the street from our house, and is in a reclaimed rice paddy that about 5 other people — all at least twice my age — are using. This year I actually inherited a little more land; I’ll be curious to see if it’s still mine next spring.
The old people are awesome, for the most part. They are quick to offer advice (which can get a bit old — I do like to make my own mistakes on occasion), and quicker to give me fresh produce, and have been known from time to time to take care of fertilizing or other maintenance-related issues that I am either too busy or too ignorant to take care of. And it always boosts my confidence in my Japanese ability when I can actually carry out a conversation with them and actually understand what the hell they are saying. Old Japanese people are generally the most willing to strike up a conversation with a foreigner, but they are also the most difficult people to understand — their pronunciation is garbled and they tend to speak local dialects with thick accents.
The only downfall to this particular garden space is that it’s located next to a well traveled sidewalk, and everyone passing by tends to take notice of the handsome gaijin toiling away among the old Japanese people. There are some regulars who I have become friendly with, but there are also troops of elementary school children walking/gawking by, socially inept dog walkers who stare but can’t return a ‘konichiwa,’ and rubbernecking motorists. I sometimes feel like a zoo exhibit, but all the homegrown produce is worth it, and the friendly people far outnumber the ones who get on my nerves. I will, however, be relieved when things start growing and I can hunker down behind some tomato plants when all the school skids are going by.
Anyway, enough blabbering on. Here’s the setup — I have the three rows in the picture below, and they extend as far back as the black vinyl on the right. That particular row is wicked muddy because the rice paddy next to the garden is leaking water. I tried to plant water-loving veggies in that row and so far nothing is dead, so fingers crossed there.
Right row — eggplant (3), green pepper/piman (3), red pepper/paprika (3), okra (2), habanero pepper (1), red chili pepper/togarashi (2)
Middle row — potatoes (a shitload), some weird pepper that I can’t remember the name of (1), mini tomoatoes (3)
Left row — corn (kernels), beans (from seed), cucumber (2 — even though they always die), regular tomatoes (4)
Back row — pumpkin/kabocha (2)
I had some extra bean and corn seed which I planted in our yard, along with some planters of basil. Can never have too much basil. I’ve also started a compost pile, but may have to bury it if it gets stinky. So far, so good.
If everything produces we will be giving away a lot of fresh veggies this summer.
Last year I made the mistake of planting a ‘long’ varitey of eggplant, and also planting 4 seedlings of it. They produced foot-long eggplants by the dozen and I was tired of eating them by July. I couldn’t give them away fast enough. This year I took special care to get regular little Japanese eggplants, and planted less of them. Probably too many still, but should be easier to get rid of.
OK, time to shut it down here. Have to get up early tomorrow morning with all the other men of the neighborhood, break out the fire hoses, and clean the drainage gutters in the neighborhood. Good times. Enjoy the weekend.