It was a jungle out there!

It’s really hard keeping a garden when you live on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.  It’s even harder when you don’t bother to weed for around a month during the rainy season.  Our garden looked more like a jungle by the time we got around to doing some major clean-up this morning.

Before
After

As you can see, it still does’t look amazing, but it’s a lot better than before.

Our poor little plants were getting choked out by all of the tall weeds.  Hopefully they’ll come back in full force now that they can have their fair share of sunshine.

Cherry tomatoes doing well 🙂
Our big tomatoes are getting bigger!
After being completely attacked by bugs and their leaves eaten to shreds, these guys are coming back. It’s tough growing veggies without using any pesticides, especially in rural Japan.
Squash bushes (in front) and tomatoes (in back)

Not only is being in the inaka hard for our plants, it’s hard on us, too.  Now that the rains have stopped (at least for the next week), we have to reapply poison powder all around our house.  There are so many bugs around here that we literally have to surround our house with poison to cut down on the amount of cockroaches, rolly polly bugs, and the dreaded mukade (poisonous centipede) that enter our house.  This year we’ve only found two really bigs ones and a handful of small mukade in our house.  If you saw a mukade, you’d understand why I insist on sleeping in a mesh tent during  the summer months when they’re most rampant.

Khoa putting out the poison powder all around our house.

We had a very productive morning; it felt good.  After a quick shower (we were both drenched in sweat thanks to the 30 degree weather and 80% humidity), we took a walk to the hotel for some nice teishoku (Japanese set menu) lunches and then iced coffee and cake afterwards.

Now we have just one more day of relaxing during the 3-day weekend and then it’s back to work.

Onion harvest

Last year in November, we planted onion seeds in our garden.  Planting any vegetables from seeds is extremely difficult.  When we lived in America, we could just go down to our local OSH or Home Depot, and pick up a bunch of fairly large, already hardened off potted vegetables.  Just stick them in the ground, give ’em a little water and fertilizer every now and then and you got yourself a healthy vegetable plant.  We also lived in Northern California with it’s wonderfully sunny weather almost all year round.  The growing conditions were so good, it was almost like we were cheating.

Fast forward to our Chibu days, and it seems like we’re always struggling to keep our plants healthy and growing.  We live in very rural Japan, filled with tons of bugs that love to eat our veggies.  We also have to fight with the typhoons and high winds that visit us in the summer and the snow in the winter.  There are also those pesky 2,000 tanuki that love to eat out of vegetable gardens (luckily, they haven’t come around our plants *knock on wood*).

Here’s the result of our onion harvest:

Our onions hanging out to dry

We planted them a little too late, so this year we only get little baby onions.  It’s amazing that you have to plant the onions in fall and only get to harvest them in May or June of the following year.  I was a bit skeptical as I looked at the little green onion tops sticking out of the snow in January.  But they continued to grow as the snow thawed and now we can enjoy some yellow and red onions in our salad tonight 🙂

Grow baby, grow!

We love green onions. It seems like we use them every other day.

However, sometimes we think we’re going to use a lot of green onions, but land up only using a few. The rest is left to die a slow, painful death in the depths of our refrigerator. It makes me sad to see my favorite garnish waste into a sloppy brown mess after only a few days.

NO MORE!

We now put our green onions in water and leave them in the kitchen window. Not only do they keep longer, they actually grow. We cut off as much as we want to use for cooking, being careful to leave the white part and the roots, and the rest grows back. We’ve used these same green onions around 5 times now and they continue to regrow.

*****Be sure to change the water every day and rinse off the roots.

This little trick saves us money and reduces waste. Try it out at home!

Vegetable Garden: Mission Accomplished…so far

Today we finished planting our vegetable garden!

In Chibu, we are very limited on the vegetables we can buy in the store.  We were astonished to find avocados, but our main vegetable options are red tomatoes (arguably a fruit), carrots, potatoes, white onions, green onions, lettuce, cabbage, green bell peppers, mushrooms, kabocha, and daikon radish.  We sometimes have broccoli, and when the store has asparagus, we usually have to pay 200 yen ($2.50) for two spears (who packages asparagus in lots of two, anyways?).  We have all of the basic vegetables, but when we want to make something with red onions or yellow bell peppers, we’re out of luck.  As a result of our limited (and expensive) vegetable options, we (try to) plant our own.

They're growing!

These are some red and white onions we planted last November.  They’re getting bigger!

Baby onions!

Our forest of onions.

 

Many types of squash.  Zucchini, yellow squash, and weird round white ones.

A baby artichoke plant.  So small!

Sugar snap peas!  We’re hoping they’ll grow so we can add them to our salads.  We’ve never seen them for sale here in Chibu.

Since we can’t buy one at the store, we made this makeshift tomato cage out of bamboo that we cut down from behind our house.  It was fun sawing down the bamboo and lashing it together to form the ladder frame.  Let’s hope it is strong enough to stand up against a typhoon.

Red and yellow bell peppers.  The only plants in our garden that we didn’t grow from seeds.  We bought these from the neighboring island.

This is the other side of our garden area.  Before we dug up all the weeds and planted our veggies, the garden side looked like this.

Holy cow that’s a big earthworm!  That’s Khoa’s hand, by the way.  Since we live in the country side, there are tons and tons of bugs!  After we dug up all of the weeds, we disturbed all kids of ants, beetles, earthworms, and more.  There were so many bugs it looked like the ground was alive!

We’re really excited to watch our veggies grow!  We’ll keep you posted on our garden’s progress.