Recovery

I didn’t do much to it but the garden seems to have recovered. Once it stopped raining so much the fungus or whatever it was seems to have cleared up. I guess pinching off the diseased leaves when I did helped.

The tomatoes are standing strong at the moment….for now. You never know what can happen. A freak wind, a herd of wild bugs, cats….and that’s it. There go your vegetables.

And yes-in Japan “herd” is the correct word ….you should see the monster bugs we have here.

The cucumbers are starting to climb and flower. My experimental eggplant is flowering. Experimental because this is the first time I’ve tried growing any. I basically just “stuck” a seedling in the garden to see what would happen.

The accidental potato is coming along. This is part of a potato that I threw in the compost heap and it just started growing. Happens to me often. Sometimes my compost veggies are better than the ones in the garden proper! It isn’t too big but I left it alone. It’s growing..might get an evening’s meal out of it.

Even the corn that I thought for sure was going to die-is still puttering along.

The snap peas were a failure-I harvested the eight total pea pods and called it quits with them.

But this Passion Flower….this thing is a monster. I actually ripped this entire thing out a little over a year ago. I even dug up the root…or so I thought. Just look at it! It never gets any fruit but it does flower and boy does it grow!!

The liatris loves the new dry corner I moved it to.

And soon the ajisai will be glorious! Already the first tinges of color are emerging.

I heard the other day that the fireflies are already starting to be seen along rivers and streams. Tonight is “date night” so after dinner we will drive up to the waterfall area to see if there are any fireflies floating around.

At the moment the front garden looks nice. I rarely ever feature it in any photos because…honestly I often times neglect it and it looks wild. Today it looked rather nice.

Last week was the neighboring town’s matsuri or festival. We usually go every year but this year was a bit different. We’ve taken much more of an active role in the care of my in-laws so instead of going to the festival like we always have, together just to have fun, we took my in-laws by the arm and walked slowly with them to the festival grounds.

We saw festival participants dressed in their costumes -making their way towards the action area.

It was a gorgeous afternoon for a walk.


(trying to maneuver the “float” through extremely narrow roads)

I wasn’t able to take many photos but…the in-laws had such a great time!
On the way back to the house I saw a small purple tassel on the road…evidence that the festival floats had passed this way…

 

 

At Home in Rural Japan Pt. 2: The Spring Kitchen and Foraging of Wild Vegetables

From ages past, foraging for wild greens has been a steady part of the Japanese culture. The Emperors of the Heian and Nara periods made it a rule to collect wild greens from the forests so that the harvest could be predicted.
The practice of collecting wild vegetables was what enabled Japanese to survive in times of natural disaster and war. During the second world war when Tokyo residents fled the city for the rural areas they relied on wild greens for sustenance.
Sansai or “mountain vegetables” are edible plants that grow wild throughout the forests and fields of rural Japan. People might wonder–why take the trouble to forage when vegetables can be easily purchased? The answer lies in a deep rooted part of the rural life-style and traditional Japanese cuisine which involves eating seasonal foods.

Read the rest of the article here!

Garden Woes and Changing My Attitude

I was so grumpy this morning. We have had nothing but yellow sand or rain. Yellow sand blown in from the Gobi Desert so thick that you can’t even see the top of the mountain.

I can count the number of nice days we’ve had this spring on one and a half hands. My tomatoes have some sort of blight / fungus from lack of sun and too much water. The snap peas are as skinny as can be. The green peppers are stunted and the rest of the veggies aren’t doing much better.
The big welt on my hand tells me the mosquitoes have arrived.
And today’s forecast…. ⛈🌧🌧🌧☔️

That’s life.

As I was pondering this … looking out at the yard I noticed that the flowers seemed to be enjoying things.

The fish love their new mini pond and I think I’ll get a bright pink lotus to put in it when they are available in the garden center.

The colors of the flowers reminded me of my yarn colors and the piles of material swatches I have stuffed away into drawers….

And then I thought – well… I have been thinking about ramping up my crochet and sewing.

So maybe it’s time to plant more flowers and stop trying to run a trauma center for vegetables.

Anyways… The colors of flowers inspire my fabric and yarn art….

Before the rains started around 11am I went out side and cleaned up a bit. I pulled off as many tomato leaves as I could. Of course I couldn’t pull them all off or there would be nothing left to power the plant. I threw away a pile of twigs and roots that I forgot about. I read that keeping your garden tidy and trash free helps with keeping disease away.

The mint loves the rainy cool weather so I snipped off a bunch of it so that I could make mint tea.

I soak the leaves in cold water for a while and then rinse them several times to remove any dust and bugs. Then I take the leaves off of the stems and I gently squeeze and kind of massage them to release the oils.

I boil a big kettle of water and then turn it off after it comes to a boil. All of the mint leaves get dumped into the kettle, I put the lid on it and a piece of foil over the spout to keep all the oils and aroma in the kettle. I let it sit like that for several hours.

After several hours I pour the tea into glass bottles and put it in the fridge. It tastes delicious cold or warmed up a bit. We actually add nothing to it as it is naturally slightly sweet. You can’t believe how delicious it is! Even hubby loves it!

It has been a real challenge to stay cheerful throughout this “weather”. We haven’t really had a spring. It has rained an awful lot this year and when it isn’t raining we have had terribly high particulate matter readings as the sand from the Gobi Desert blows through. Usually after our dreary winter I am just itching to get outside in my garden.

I am thankful that I can “entertain” myself indoors with crochet, sewing, reading, writing…

I am actually never bored as I always find something that needs to be done or some sort of project to work on.

And soon….the rainy season will roll in!

I’m going to the states in June to see the kids…I think I’ll stock up on more yarn while I’m there!

But for the moment I’ll sit, look out at the rain and enjoy my yogurt, matcha, mint smoothie….

Sunshine and Bedsheets

The way the weather has been lately- when a nice day comes along I take full advantage of it.

Actually, taking advantage of it isn’t even the correct way to put it because as I have come to find out over the years the weather plays a vital role in the average Japanese housewife’s routine. It dictates which chores get done that day and there are days when the plans I’ve made for the day go out the window because the sun is shining and the futons need airing.

Yesterday was such a day. The weather was absolutely brilliant and just as I said above -the futons needed airing. My personal plans needed to wait because it seemed like a rare chance to get some necessary work done.

In Japan we don’t air futons because we feel like it or just to freshen them up. I never feel like it-Japanese futons are heavy!

Airing futons in the hot sun is necessary to kill dani or–dust mites. Dani actually live in tatami mats and because we lay the futons on the tatami-they get into the futons. They bite-and are horrid. We had a run-in with them last June.

More about futons later.

I aired pillows, zabutons and whatever else I thought could use a good zap of sun.

The garden got an inspection. At the moment we’ve got: tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, lettuce, bitter melon, potatoes, snap peas, corn and cucumbers growing. So far so good. We will see how they continue.

The Foxgloves are starting to bloom and so are the oxeye daises. The garden looks so wild and lovely when they bloom.

The roses are budding and soon will open. I am hoping we don’t have too much rain. The roses really need some full sun days.

The other flowers are all looking lovely right now.

I keep a lot of flowers around the garden to attract bees and butterflies and this year there have been so many bees already! Through the open windows comes the sound of buzzing – a sound that I absolutely love. I love bees. Bees and butterflies make the garden such a joy.

I cleaned the water garden and we replaced the fish. The previous fish lived for about three years. The little fish we use for our water garden are called medaka or Japanese Rice Fish.

 http://i.imgur.com/87MHWfI.jpg

I didn’t catch these. I bought them at the local farmer’s market. During the summer and even now I suppose, you can catch them in local streams and rice fields. But…I’m not so good at catching them.

Back to futons…

Last New Year, actually in December, I went through the futon closet and took out at least eight futons that needed to be dumped. They were about 40 years old, heavy, dusty and really –we don’t need that many futons. They belonged to the previous home owner (a relative) and we kept them initially because we thought we might need them when the kids and grand-kids came for a visit. Little did I know how much WORK it is to maintain them. You can’t just shove them in the closet and forget about them. Not in our old, damp home. I had to haul them out at least twice a year for airing. That meant washing all the wrapping cloths and pretty much taking everything out of the futon closet to wipe it down.

These futons are HEAVY. It was a three day project because I didn’t have enough space to air all of them at once. They need to be turned every few hours….and then if a stray rain storm blows through, good luck! You can’t haul them in fast enough because they are so heavy.

SO-I had enough of taking care of them and we decided to dump them. Easier said than done in Japan. You can’t just “dump” things. You need to buy special tags and bags for “special” trash. Futons are definitely special trash. The tags and bags are not cheap and you can only put one in the trash at a time. Well…hubby decided to think of another way to dump them. In the mean time we piled them up in the guest tatami room. A bit later an old toaster oven joined them. Then some old clothes and a broken CD player…a dumpy old TV stand…cruddy pillows…the old rice cooker that burned out….

You get the picture. Before we knew it the tatami room was piled high with junk.

If we thought we had a problem before…we really had one now.

When I could stand it no more and because our son-in-law is going to be in Japan and will be visiting us-I insisted that hubby do something!

I have no idea what he did with the trash. I am sure he was responsible about it and that’s all I care about…it felt so good to finally have the room back!

It was so dusty that it took me a good part of the day to clean it, wash the curtains and sofa covers. I had to vacuum the tatami several times over to make sure I got any dani that were living in it and then the whole thing got a good spray over with dani killer.

Thankfully that is DONE because the next day the rain rolled in again….

Just another ordinary day in the countryside of Japan.

At Home in Rural Japan part 1- The Heart of the Rural Japanese Home

My first article in a new series on Taiken Japan.

Before the sun rises over towns and hamlets that slumber between forested mountains, lights begin to flicker in kitchen windows across the valley. In cold weather kerosene or wood stoves are lit, they bring warmth and light as the heart of the Japanese home is awakened by the woman of the house. In summer, windows are opened allowing the cool morning breezes to refresh while releasing smoke from the gas grill as she grills the morning fish.

Welcome to the rural Japanese kitchen.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE