Can stylish seed bombs make better neighbors?

clintonpark_seedbomb

種爆弾を使って、お隣がよくなるでしょうか? カリフォルニア・ススキと野草の種の入った種爆弾を隣の庭に投げ入れました。何も生えていなくて、さびしいので。パッケージと成分表がなかなか素敵でしょう?

My San Francisco neighbor is an absentee landlady, who grows nothing but weeds in her back yard. After some pre-watering, i threw two seed bombs over our fence. I wonder if these wildflowers and grasses will sprout?

I love the packaging and the ingredient list.

clintonpark_seedbomb_ingredients

Gorgeous cucumber flowers, but unfortunately no cukes

cucumber_flower_detail_balcony

種から育ったキュウリの花がきれいですが、実がなっていません。衆生は全部雄花だと言っています。それは可能でしょうか。花がたくさんあります。

The cucumbers I grew from seed had a lot of flowers. Unfortunately, there were no vegetables. Shu thinks maybe all my plants were male. Is that possible? At least they look good.

cucumber_balcony_flower_string

Hiyoko’s seeds from Belgium have become seedlings

sunflower_seedlings_home_balcony

ヒヨコさんからもらったベルギーの種が芽を出しました。ミニヒマワリだと思います。これも手仕事屋久家で作った植木鉢です。

I think these are mini-sunflowers. We’ll find out soon. This ceramic also made at Kuge Crafts.

Best present ever, from Hiyoko in the Netherlands

94790034

ベルギーの友達が買った種を分けてくれました。わざわざ郵便で送ってくれました。特別なキュウリやヒマワリやエンドウ。どれも植木鉢で育てやすいです。サイズが小さいものばかりです。キツネのイラストと手紙と説明書のついた小さな封筒が素敵です。ヒヨコさん、ありがとうございます!

The best present I have received in a long time. This gorgeous letter, with an illustrated, fox character, and five types of seeds selected, in Belgium, to do well in flowerpots. They include mini sunflowers, mini cucumber, micro pea, rice beans, and micro basil.

Recently, a young friend was perplexed by the very concept of a stationery store. “What? Don’t you just send by phone and e-stickers?,” he asked. Some things must be analog.

Thank you, Hiyoko! The seeds are already srpouting.

Snap pea seedlings grow in biodegradable paper starter pots

snap_peas_nakano_balcony

小さなプランターにスナックエンドウの種をまきました。このプランターは土のなかで生物分解します。環境にいいです。苗が大きくなったら、ベランダの庭全体に植える予定です。

When the seedlings get a little bigger, I’ll plant them everywhere on the balcony garden.

Thinning radishes and turning roots and leaves into lunch salad

radish_seedlings_winter_crop_nakano

ベランダで育ったラディッシュが美味しいです。種をたくさんまいたので、今、間引きする必要があって、小さいラディッシュを収穫しています。根も葉もランチのサラダにしています。

My balcony winter crop is radishes and snap peas, planted by seed. My Tokyo farmer friend Joan advised me to plant densely, and eat my way through the thinning process. The leaves are surprisingly tasty, as are the mini-red radishes.

New England wildflower blooms brightly on Tokyo balcony

北米ニューイングランド産の野草が咲いています。ニューヨークに住んでいる友だちからきれいな種をもらいました。

I planted some “New England wildflowers” from seed, and this yellow flower quickly appeared on my Tokyo balcony. A few weeks later, the entire plant had died. I hope the seeds have ventured out in the neighborhood.

Below is a photo of the cute seed pack illustration which my friend Matt gave me in New York last June. Also irresistible is the “New Yorker tomato,” which I gave a late start too in Tokyo in July. I gave many seedlings to friends and colleagues.

Lone line of wild grass on sidewalk near Shinjuku station

この草は自然にまかれた種から育ちました。長い線の形を描いています。去年もこの新宿駅の近くにある景色が好きでした。

This grass seeds itself alongside the guardrail leading up to Shinjuku Station’s JR South entrance. Exactly the same time last year, I was also captivated by this linear lawn at night.

Seed bomb recipe for kids workshop at Shibaura House

.@ShibauraHouse の子供たちのワークショップのために、この種爆弾のレシピを書きました。五種類の種を使いました。人と動物の食べられる植物を選んで、背の高い花は見えやすいので選びました。子供が粘土と土と種を混ぜて、汚れるときが楽しかったようです。

This is the handout I made for the Shibaura House seed bomb workshop for kids. The recipe is 5 parts powdered clay, 2 parts soil, 1 part seed, and 1 part water. Thinking about the season, late spring, just before rainy season, I chose clover, soba, sunflower, hollyhocks, and watermelon.

The seed selection also responded to the theme of “eating and seeing green.” I wanted to provide food for animals as well as people, as well as flowers that are tall and easy to see. The soba and clover seeds are the least expensive and served as the seed “base.”

Corrected: Below are photos from the event, taken by Naomi Muto and written up by Shirakuma Ikuko in Japanese. It’s funny that my instructions were to make balls (dango), but the kids enjoyed making shapes like stars, bows, donuts, Jupiter, and even a black hole.

In the afternoon, the adults who attended the kick-off talk event also participated in vegetable planting on the 4th floor. Shibaura House is tweeting the growth of their new garden!

Pomegranate also grows well in Tokyo

ザクロも東京で育つことができます。もともと中央アジアのペルシアから来て、地中海地方で人気です。酸っぱくて柔らかいの種が美味しいです。東京では、だれもこの木の果物を食べないから、鳥はうれしいだろう。たまに小さなザクロを盆栽に使っています。

Native to Persia (what is now Iran), pomegranates remind me of the Mediterranean. I was surprised to see a neighbor’s pomegranate tree full of fruit. I guess the neighbor is not eating them, since they are bursting open. The birds are probably happy to eat the delicious seeds, and then distribute them as they travel.

Last year I also took photos of neighborhood fruit trees, including a miniature pomegranate. There are special varieties used in bonsai making.

Grass going to seed on a Shinjuku sidewalk

歩道のねこじゃらしから種ができています。このねこじゃらしは人間の助けなしでも、東京の真ん中で元気そうです。新宿のネオンがこの自然を超自然的に見せています。ここでは、自然と都市が調和して見えます。

Tokyo summer has been incredibly hot, humid, and wet. I love seeing this grass growing on a sidewalk a few steps from Shinjuku station. The bright neon makes the grass glow in a hyper-reality. This perfect complement to its surroundings appears with no human planning. Looking at it going to seed I am sure it will multiply.

Edoble brings people together to eat free food growing in Tokyo

東京の「エドブル」は人を集めて、無料で料理を作ったり、食べたりします。
ハッサクという果物が食べられることを知っていますか? 区役所の公務員と一緒にハッサクを廃校になった中学校で収穫しました。先月、20人が集まって、ハッサクを切って、皮や種や膜を取って、マーマレードを作りました。もっとエドブルの料理パーティーに参加したい。

Through this blog, I was contacted by Edoble, whose tag line is “free food everywhere, in Tokyo.” Last month Edoble organized a hassaku marmelade party at a small shoutengai in Nakano, not far from where I live.

Edoble’s founder Jess Mantell is a Canadian designer, doctoral student, city explorer, and community organizer. As you can see from the poster above, she’s a great illustrator, too. At Keio University, she previously led a team that created an iPhone app that tracks movement across Tokyo with city sounds.

Edoble’s hassaku marmalade making event was great fun. Hassaku is a citrus tree that I often see growing in older gardens in Tokyo. The tree is very robust, and the fruits bright orange and large starting in winter. Seeing them makes me feel like there’s a bit of Florida or Southern California in Tokyo. But everyone had told me that the fruit is inedible. Jess’ idea was to bring people together to harvest and prepare hassaku.

It seems that if you pick the fruit at different times, the taste changes. Jess spotted mature hassaku trees in an abandoned city middle school near her house in south Nakano. She asked permission from the ward office to harvest the fruit in the spring, and several city workers unlocked the gate and joined her in collecting and sharing the fruit. That alone is pretty cool.

In June, Edoble hosted a marmalade party as a public event at a small space that is shared by the shoutengai association. On June 11, about twenty people very rapidly peeled the fruit, eliminated the membrane, put the seeds and membrane into a cheese cloth, and then boiled everything in four large pots. It was fun to see the amazing knife skills, particularly the older women and one young nursery school chef. We even got some help from some neighborhood kids.

The workshop was super-inspiring. It is great to realize how much food is growing in Tokyo, and that we can join with our neighbors in collecting and preparing super local food. Edoble’s accomplishment was in bringing together residents and local government, children and seniors, mostly Japanese and a few foreigners, mostly women and a few men.

Edoble reminds me that cities can grow a lot more of their own food, and that residents enjoy opportunities to work together and share food. Urban foraging is low cost and high return.

Fun skateboarding video of Tokyo guerrilla gardening

ゲリラ・ガーデニングのビデオは楽しいです。

This fun video is from Plants+ Japan, via @hiyokoimai.