Happy new year! Unfortunately for you, ‘blogging more’ is not one of my resolutions, at least if you are someone who frequently checks this blog only to be disappointed, but I will endeavor to be a bit more, ahem, regular, around here. I was busy for a the few months cramming my brain full of kanji and Japanese grammar in preparation for a Japanese test at the beginning of December, and these pesky kids take up so much time, and of course it’s winter, or supposed to be at least, so there isn’t much going on garden wise. So here’s a rundown of where things stood in the fall of the second year of my young forest garden.
I planted a pretty modest winter garden this year, with only a few each of broccoli, Chinese cabbage (hakusai), regular cabbage, daikon, and some leftover kale seeds I had. I’ve planted too much in the past, so this year I aimed for ‘just right,’ but my aim was off in terms of when to plant. I planted everything late, which means here in January, when things are hardly growing, I have yet to harvest anything.
On the up side, there are no bugs/slugs this year. I used a bit of experimental compost made from pine needles that I picked up (more on that in the future) that, in addition to filling your veggies with vitality, is supposed to deter insect. So it could be that, or it could just be a down year for bugs and slugs. The jury is out.
I decided to plant garlic in one of my raised beds. I’m thinking this might of been a mistake as well, since it’ll be taking up space into summer when I could probably already be harvesting the salad greens I should have planted there again. In the future I think I’ll just disperse garlic all throughout the forest garden where it won’t be taking up valuable annual space and may even be help deter unwanted insects around fruit trees and shrubs.
I harvested quite a few small, tart mikan from the tree I just planted in the spring. It produces quite a few fruit but is hardly able to support their weight.
And some fruit from my strawberry tree. I didn’t really know what to expect from this evergreen, but this custardy little berry-fruits are pretty nice.
I got a decent harvest of ginger and turmeric, most of which I used to concoct some ‘fire cider’ that is meant to ward of colds and other winter ailments.
I’ve hinted at the extremely mild winter we’ve had so far, but the one snow we did have managed to take down my beloved acacia tree. I think this thing was doomed from the start, too pot bound and fast growing to every spread roots capable of sustaining its major top-heaviness. I’ve stressed about it tipping over constantly, and even had a bunch ropes set up to support it during heavy winds and snow, but forgot to lash it down before we received a meager 3-4 inches of snow. When I woke up in the morning and casually looked out the window, it was flopped on the ground. I was almost relieved. I’m looking around for something nitrogen fixing to replace it with in the spring, probably another acacia.
I also planted some additional perennial things in the fall — a ‘bikkuri gumi,’ an almond tree, a sugar prune and yellow cherry tree, as well as a few more raspberry bushes because I’ve realized you can never have too many raspberries.
I’ve got my eyes on shoehorning in a few more things in the spring, but my main focus in on chickens, which I’m really looking forward to getting in a few months. I’m currently figure out which breeds to get and how to design a coop. I want egg layers, and in Japan the main breeds seem to be Nagoya Cochin, Boris Brown, Okazaki Ohan. I can order all of those from my local home center, as well as Ukkei, which are called Silkie in America I think, and I’m kind of taken by those fluffy things. If you’re reading and have any input on anything chicken related, please comment.
So forest garden year two? Everything grew, one thing fell down, most of the major installments are still pretty small and not productive…but things are getting established, and that’s exciting!