gaijinfarmer

Organic farming, Japanese recipes


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Vacuuming the tomatoes

We can’t exactly say it was a whirlwind tour, but after taking off through a typhoon in early June and returning through a typhoon in mid-July we can surely say that our trip had its ups and downs.

The temperature here has also gone up, and rising with it are all the plants—rice, weeds, and crops.  Rising, or at least growing: we returned to find our new garden plot in disarray.  The broccoli was crawling down the raised bed and the cucumbers had ignored the trellis and were sprawling among the tomatoes, which had been toppled by the wind.

The bugs loved the chaos, too.  Huge drone beetles were crawling facefirst into split tomatoes for feeding orgies, eating until they couldn’t move.  Brown marmorated stink bugs had taken over the tomatoes and sweet potatoes, coating the trunks and branches, raising their young and even mating in plain view.  It was a hedonistic insect heaven.

Our little vacuum changed that pretty quick.  There were far too many of them to pick off one by one, and they seemed to think of my homebrew fermented organic insect repellant as a kind of perfume.  So out came the little hoover, and the stink bug population dropped pretty quick.  The big tomato eaters just got dropped into a garbage bag, tomatoes and all, and were disposed of.

Now we’re back under a semblance of control.  At least our thick layer of grass mulch did a good job of keeping the weeds down while we were gone!


 

 

I don’t think I’ve posted about this garden patch before.  We wanted something a little closer to our home, so we dug part of our lawn up over the spring.  The soil was collected from a mountain road our friends knew about; it’s a leaf compost, which is supposed to be pretty acidic, but our plants seem to love it.  We filled our little truck up with bags of the compost, filtered it through a large sieve, and mixed in just a little bit of additives from the store.  Hiro shoveled it into five little rows, and voila, our kitchen garden.

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Eye-opening podcast on soil health

If you compost, garden, or are thinking about starting, this is an excellent listen! Soil doctor Doug Weatherbee gives an easy to understand introduction to the components of soil and how we can adjust some variables. Click for part 1 of soil health podcast , then follow the link on that page for part 2.

We’ve had heavy rain followed by light rain for a few days now.  The mulch that we laid down over the potatoes did its job just fine and protected the soil, whereas the rest of the exposed areas took a beating.  In retrospect, I should have saved some mulch to protect the spinach and carrot seeds.  I think they’ll be fine though.

I’m eagerly awaiting my first sprouts, and also the first fruiting of oyster mushrooms, which I’ve planted in a few media for testing! 🙂


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Prepping garden fields, planting spinach!

Yesterday the aunt and I went out to re-till the potato field to put in some fertilizer that we didn’t do the first time around. Since I had already done the lines with the tractor, and since it’s rained a bit since then I didn’t want to use the tractor again, so we did it by hand with 3-pronged hoes. I’m a bit sore, but the aunt is pretty mad at me…

Today she spent most of the day in her pajamas. so after lunch I dug in some lime and rice hulls into our garden plot with the forked hoe. Since we’ll use most of that space in March for laying out trays of germinating rice under plastic tunnels I only had one row to do, and it was pretty quick. I planted half of it with spinach; in a couple weeks I’ll seed any areas that aren’t sprouting yet and hopefully get a rotating crop going out of a small space. The other half I’ll do with lettuce and carrots in a couple weeks. I had some space on the edges that I threw some red radish seed at; whatever comes up is fine.

The lettuce I’m going to sprout separately and replant later; I put some of the rich soil in a styrofoam tray and scattered two types of lettuce seed on it. I put a thin layer of dirt over those and watered it, put a sheet of newspaper over that and then soaked the paper. By the way, you wouldn’t believe what they put in the newspaper around here…

Two days in a row with the hoe. Tomorrow I plan to dig compost into the areas where we’ll plant the trees in the narrow garden by the tracks. We’ll see if I make it out of bed!