This Week In Gardening

I have soil envy. This is my inlaw’s garden. Look at that dirt — dark and fertile. You want to stick it in your coffee pot and brew it up. This is my benchmark.

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As such, I spent the day collecting leaves and covering my garden with them. Put this in the same category of collecting hundreds of pounds of rocks at the beach to line my walkway with — an absurd amount of physical energy spent on a peculiar task. But I get a perverse pleasure from the work, and it gives me an excuse to drink a bottle of wine as a reward for all of my toiling. And in this case, there are tangible benefits to covering my yard in leaves. It will improve the soil when I till everything in next fall. Until then it will attract spiders and other insects that will devour all the other bugs that want to eat my garden, and the weeds should be kept at bay as well.

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On the negative side, I’m estimating by how many I encountered scurrying away from my leaf-raking that I just imported 50-100 mukade — giant, venomous centipedes — into my yard. Mukade are pretty much the most disgusting insect Japan has to offer, and I know it’s only a matter of time before we find one in our house. Rumour has it that they travel in pairs, because one isn’t horrible enough. Karma be damned, I’ll kill every one of the bastards I come across, as long as I’m wearing my long boots. Which reminds me, no more Birkenstocks in the garden.

Anyway, all this paranoia got me to finally spread the anti-mukade powder that I bought a few weeks ago around the perimeter of the house. Even if it’s totally a placebo effect, I’ll sleep better.

But I’ll risk being bitten to death by centipedes in my sleep if it means nutritious layers of organic material sitting atop my beds, keeping the plants warm.

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Elsewhere in the garden, corn, among other things, is popping up.

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The grass is looking good, and I deem the BBQ garden ready for action.

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The koi nobori are flying.

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I made three scarecrows, the creepiest of which is this little one.

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I installed some solar-powered LED lights along the walkway. ¥500 a pop — can’t be beat.

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And this is where I hope to be spending an increasing amount of time as we edge our way towards summer.

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These are good days. Go Bruins!

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Garden 2014

The final piece of the grand vision I had when we started building our house — the garden — is now a reality. Yippee! And while it’s still as brown as can be, I’ll soon be gazing out upon rows and rows of happy green plants, bursting flower blossoms, and sagging sunflowers while I sip my morning coffee on the porch.

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I planted tomatoes (large and small), cucumbers, orange, green, and purple peppers, okra, celery, yellow and green zucchini, beans, red chili peppers, eggplant (large ‘American’ eggplant and regular little Japanese eggplant), kabocha pumpkins, corn, carrots, and kale. I’m still hoping to get some potatoes in the ground, but I’m late and all the stores have sold out of seed potatoes. Fortunately I’m at my inlaw’s, who happen to be farmers, and no lots of other farmers who can perhaps hook me up with some spuds. I’ll certainly have more produce than we can consume, so I’m looking forward to giving some away.

The only thing I want to do now is gather bunch of leaves and other organic material from the nearby woods to put on and between the beds to discourage weeds, keep the mud at bay, and improve the soil over time.

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Along the side of the house I made some herb beds. So far I’ve planted basil, cilantro, and dill.

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On the other side of the house, the BBQ garden is begging for some action. The sod is almost ready to withstand drunken revelers, so it won’t be long. I need to find some tiki torches to stake around the border of the grass to really finish off the space.

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I scattered a bunch of flower seeds along the left side of the walkway. I’m not sure how that will turn out, but the seeds are already germinated so I’ll find out soon. I also planted a row of giant sunflowers along the front of the property hoping to create a screen from the road.

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A friend is using the space on the other side of the yard for her own vegetable garden. Eventually I’d like to plant an asparagus bed and maybe use this area to grow lots of onions and garlic over the winter.

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This is definitely the biggest garden I have had. I had originally wanted a larger parcel of land, but now that I’ve tried to fill all of this space with a productive garden, it seems like a pretty good size. Anything larger would be pretty hard to maintain on my own, and this space will produce more food than my family can consume. I’ll work on figuring out the best way to utilize this space from now one, but for now I’m so excited to have my first garden planted at our new house.

We’re at my inlaw’s in Niigata for a little while. I’d rather be home tinkering among my vegetables, but the plus side is that there are people here to help out with my kids, and they get to hang out with their cousins, so everyone’s happy. If you’re in Japan, enjoy Golden Week. Go Bruins!