roots

After massive cleaning, balcony floor is very clean, and plants even more modular

garden_detail_new_wood_floor_home_balcony
大掃除の後で、ベランダの床がとてもきれいになりました。今は、植木鉢を動かしやすいです。

Because the building was inspecting and maintaining the drains, we cleaned out the old rotted path, and all the accumulated dirt and roots that had jumped the pots. The balcony floor is now much cleaner, and it’s easier to move the plants around in new configurations.

Spectacular maple tree grows in street with no visible soil

昨日の階段の紅葉の写真は、このモミジから来ました。土がほとんどないのに、きれいになりました。本当に東京は植物に良い場所です。なんでも育ちます。

This is the maple tree that shed the leaves on yesterday’s photo of the tiled steps. I am amazed that this tree survives despite the fact that the roots and the pavement join with no gap. Where does it find water, or nourishment? Tokyo really is a great place for growing, and its resilient plants show how much is possible.

Hardy salvia

最近ベランダの植木鉢の土が弱くなっていると思っています。ところが、悪い状況なのに、サルビアはいつも大きくなって、咲いてくれるので、大好きです。ひょろっとしていて、根から新芽が出ます。たくましくて、美しい植物が好きです。

Recently I have been thinking that the soil in my balcony container garden must be getting depleted. That’s another reason I love my two salvia plants: continually growing, blooming, getting leggy, and sending out new growth from the roots. A flowering plant that loves sub-optimum conditions is a joy.

Neighbors sharing plants at apartment building

Just in front of the garbage sorting area at a large apartment building, a neighbor has left a bucket of water with rosemary and “beroperone” (ベロペロネ), the “little shrimp” ornamental I recently spotted in the neighborhood growing between two walls. The plants are in water so that the cuttings grow roots. I love how the note invites neighbors to adopt these plants. I like the ethos of sharing and encouraging the diffusion of these plants with neighbors.

Coco husk soil

For urban gardeners, one key question is how to get plants, soil and pot from store to house. I buy many of my plants from small shops that are on my way from the train station to my apartment. Sometimes I bike to a DIY big box store called Shimatchu, and use a combination of large backpack and balancing plants in plastic bags across my handle bars.

Recently I discovered coconut husk as a soil. It’s sold at a wonderful Kichijoji indoor growing shop called Essence. Made entirely of husk, it recycles what would otherwise be waste, and it seems to be a high quality organic soil. Even better, it is sold dehydrated, so it is very light weight for transportation from shop to home.

I have bought three blocks (also called tampons) that make 11 liters when hydrated. Nakata-san of Essence recommended blending it 3-1-1 with perlite and vermiculite, which are also very light weight and low cost. When blended it makes about two regular sized buckets of soil.

I also used coco husk soil in small disks that expand with water to form seedling starters wrapped in a simple rope pouch.

You can see that my morning glory seeds were the first to sprout.

I also bought this funny Gro-Pot, a thick plastic bag with coco husk that you hydrate and plant directly into, as if it were a flower pot. I’ve put a sunflower in my Gro-Pot (bought for 500 yen, just over $5 from a local flower shop). Both the Gro-Pot and the coconut husk block are from U-Gro.

For the coco husk mix, I used another light weight new idea: Smartpots, a soft-side fabric container that claims to be better than plastic and clay containers, is super easy to carry and store. The makers claim that these polypropylene containers aerate and air prune the roots. When you buy the smartpots, they come folded up, which is very convenient.

Tsukishima: green alleys & new construction

Tsukishima: green alleys

Walking in Tsukishima is an interesting contrast between old and new, green alleys and wide boulevards, wood houses and new construction.

Some of the alleys are remarkably well planted. The alley in the photo above seems to benefit from trees whose roots forced themselves out of their pots and through the pavement. Tsukishima and Tsukudajima survived the earthquake and the war, but the pace of modern development has outpaced preservation.

Tsukishima: old houses & new construction

More photos after the jump.

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