seed

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

Summer Balcony Details: Sunflower sprouts in ceramic pot

sunflower_seedlings_balcony_nakano

真夏の暑さが終わりましたが、これから夏のベランダのクローズアップの写真のシリーズをお見せします。写真は全部フィルムです。小さいスペースなのに楽しいです。これは種子から育てたヨーロッパのミニヒマワリです。

This is the start of my summer balcony details series. A close look at some of the flowers, foliage and edibles of summer. First, a pot of micro-sunflowers, grown from Hiyoko’s seeds from Europe. The leaves looks so fresh.

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.

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.

Sidewalk morning glory grown from seed outside Shibaura House

5月のたべるみどりみるみどりでジャレドさん@JBraiterman と一緒にSHIBAURA HOUSEの前に蒔いた朝顔がこんなに花をさかせました!

https://twitter.com/shibaurahouse/status/246768749376573440

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.

Mint flowering in the late afternoon sun

突然、ベランダのミントに紫色の花がたくさん咲きました。午後遅くの日光に、葉は金と赤い色になります。秋の瞬間です。

My mint is suddenly full of purple flowers. And in the late afternoon sunlight, the leaves turn gold and red. It’s a fall moment.

I love having herbs on my city balcony: for cooking, for scent, and for variety. Mint is ridiculously easy to grow, and I hope the seeds travel and plant themselves somewhere nearby.

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.

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.

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.

Flowering volunteer

This plant in the foreground arrived on its own to my balcony container garden, and now it is flowering. The flowers look like peas, and the plant is growing vigorously with a nice cascading shape. Does anyone know the name of this plant?

In gardening, the unplanned is often the most intriguing. I wonder if the seed came in the wind, in the soil of another purchased plant, or by bird droppings. Even a small artificial ecosystem can take on a life of its own.