Monday, July 15, 2019

Mr. Potatohead

The rain doesn't stop... even those days that are not rainy there is this misty downfall that makes everything wet. I am still waiting for the shredder part to arrive, and thanks to the constant rain haven't been to the forest in like 2 weeks. So one of those non-rainy misty days I went over expecting the plot to be overgrown with bamboos...
It was overgrown but mostly with weeds. The bamboos seem to have taken a break in sending thick shoots up, and instead are sending thin baby shoots that spawn lots of leaves. Nevertheless, they all had to go so I spent some time cleaning them out. Also, realizing that all the bamboo that make up the "flooring" of the plot aren't going anywhere soon, I started to move them to the back of the plot, opening up the main area for doing other things like burning bamboos or felling trees or digging. Just moving all those thick bamboos is hard work too so I just managed to clear a 2 meter wide strip so far. When I was all spent, I thought I should go over to the field where I planted potatoes and melons and see if there is anything there. I haven't done anything at all to help them grow. Just put in the seeds and left them there... too busy to even check on them.
There were a few, maybe 5-6 melon plants that had just started blooming, which I guess will die with all this rain. And as for the potatoes, there was nothing, so I assumed they had already sprouted and grown and died, just like the ones in my backyard and the garden.
I picked a random spot and dug a few centimeters with my hands, and there were potatoes. Not huge ones but anyway. So although I was tired as fuck, I spent another hour digging out all the potatoes from the field.
The harvest
I think weight-wise at least I got more spuds that I put in. But I wouldn't call it a success exactly.
Let's clean those babies
Luckily there was a lot of tiny ones which I just love. I just fry them like they are and they taste great.
All washed and ready to store
I am keeping them in a cardboard box and shake it once or twice a day cause I heard they will develop skin that way. After a few days I can move them to the fridge. If any left, cause I we are already eating them every day.
In the garden, the passion fruit is blooming and making new fruits despite the rain. It is adjusting to the trellis just fine, and I hope come winter I will be able to just cover it with plastic to avoid frost.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Cloudy summer

Summer so far has been pretty rainy and grey. But still hot and humid so the vegetables are growing as expected. My expectations are pretty low though because the soil of my garden has been lawn for many many years and lacks quality. I hope it gets better year by year as I add mulch and manure and stuff to it.
Have not been to the forest in a couple of weeks as it has been raining a lot and I am waiting for chipper parts to arrive.
Oh, I forgot to mention, after the shredder machine company got my extremely polite mail complaining about the low quality of their chipper, they sent me not an apology but a list of parts that I would need to order and pay for to bring the machine back to working shape. Along with that they listed a lot of excuses that bamboo is hard and their machine can actually not handle it although they clearly mentioned it as chippable by their machine when they sold it. As summary they pointed out that the machine had broken down due to wrongful usage and hence reparation would be my responsibility. Thanks as always for your business, we wait for your order, they concluded.
That kinda brought my blood to boil and I thought to myself no more Mr. nice guy. I wrote a very polite answer in which I calmly and respectfully brought to their attention that they have in fact sold me a subpar product, used false advertising and that it had broken even though I followed the instructions. I wrote that I would be disappointed if their attitude was to blame their faults on customers, and that I was now starting to think about filing a complaint with the authorities and get all of my spent money back.
Quickly after that I got a small mail with a very short apology, saying that they understood the situation, and they would accept the burden of the parts needed to repair the machine. Please wait until we arrange and ship the parts to you. Thanks as always for your patronage, they said.
So I am waiting for those parts to arrive to fix the chipper and give it one more go...
Aaaanyway, this post is just to bring you up to date with what the garden looks like.
First off, a couple of examples of what I mean with low expectations on produce...
The cornless corn
The corn in the backyard are getting bigger taller and thicker everyday but I have still not seen a single cob on them... is it a timing problem?
Zucchini jungle
The zucchini are very good at producing lots of leafs and flowers but when it comes to actual zucchini, well they get up to about 10 cm and start rotting. I have so far only been able to harvest 2 tiny ones, maybe 20 cm.
More zucchini
In the middle of the zucchini, a few tomato seeds have survived from last year and grown to really slim plants with a couple of tiny tomatoes hanging from them. Still green as you can see in the picture...
The tomatoes I actually planted for this year are doing better.
growing tall and pride
I have been diligent in removing weeds around them and staking up their branches. Also kept bamboo chip mulch in good shape under them. So now I can see some nice size tomatoes coming out.
Please bugs don't eat these
The string beans at the garden entrance and also inside the garden have already started to produce yummy looking results.
string beans
And the chickens are loving all this green scenery just beyond their run. Inside the run they eat anything green in their sight so it looks like a desert.
chickens eating breakfast
The other morning I was removing weeds in the backyard when I noticed carrot leafs sticking out. I pulled it up and found this cute and sweet carrot.
Can't B more natural than this
For a while I thought the melons and watermelons are doomed but now it seems they have made a comeback.
And also the passion fruit is adapting to its trellis...
I guide it along the bars every now and then
I build the trellis as the plant grows
And finally, I think I planted too many saplings, and now it is getting pretty crowded. Especially the mulberry tree/bush is just spreading out and bullying the others. I will be pruning it a lot this winter to get it into shape. Now it just looks wild.
Also the walnut trees are starting to look like trees. They are now taller than me with real branches.
The trees..

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Happiness is....

Tora is truly happy everyday when he's out in the garden. Indoors he mostly sleeps or is restless asking to be let out...
"Nyaaanyaaaanyaaaaaa, let me go out and play", he says every morning when he notices me waking up after having quitely watched me sleep for hours.
So the first thing I do is to open the door for him.
He does his rounds and an hour later comes back scratching at the door to come in and have his breakfast.
The two kittens have no idea what they are missing so they just watch him from inside without complaint.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Rainy season

Whenever I talk to a Japanese, they are so proud that in Japan the four seasons are so very distinguished, boxed in and clear. On the other hand they don't mention the other half unidentified seasons. Rainy season is one of those. In a matter of days the hot summer weather turned into cold autumn. Actually rainy season is supposed to be hot and humid but not this year. It was cold rain and winds. Yuck. Needless to say I got plenty of rest indoors.
Of course as soon as the rain stopped, even for a few hours, I ran out and tried to do something with my time. For example, I continued cutting the bamboos on the north wall and stack them nicely.
I think I'm about 1/5 of the way through
After the wall part is done, I will go a ask permission one more time, just to be sure, to cut all the bamboos on the north plot which may fall down on mine. The north plot is 2 meters higher than my plot. Right now I am just cutting the slope between which is common ground.
Other than that, I just let the bamboos soak in the constant rain...
The rain has filled the pond in the garden nicely and one more lotus flower has come up.
I spent some hard time digging and pulling out the huge bush in the garden, at the same time as bees were trying to feast on its flowers. It is a miracle I didn't get stung.
Halfway done
The dirt under my fingers look very esthetic, it almost looks like I have had them done by a professional.
Anyway, what I did was to pull out as much roots as I could, and cleared a pretty wide circle. I also dug down the slope and made it more flat. The clay that I dug out from the deeper parts, I used to make the entrance to the garden more horizontal. When it is snowing or raining, that part gets slippery and dangerous, so if I make a clay path that resembles steps or something, maybe it is an improvement.. Before planting the apple sapling, I back-filled the hole with the contents of the compost bin which I was going to move. It is pretty smelly. Hope it gets better after being buried for a while. I haven't gotten the grip on composting yet. My composts attract flies and smell horrible.
Right now, the place where I planted the apple looks like a mound, which I will fix later by filling around it with more top soil from the slope above it. That way the shallower roots will have somewhere to go.
Also I haven't "planted" the second compost bin yet. I just put it there for the time being until the rains stop and allow me to borrow it down into the dirt. After that I will try and fix the entrance path...
All the rain and wind is making some of the vegetables very happy and they are growing extra. Others don't look so happy...
The corn are tilting....

Monday, June 3, 2019

Nice surprise

Last night when I went to close the chicken coop door I saw this round thing just below the passion fruit vine.
That's not an egg
Seems I completely missed it. Didn't even notice the flower... and somehow it got pollinated too. The fruit is pretty big. Now just have to wait till it ripens. Wow.
In just a day or two, even the zucchinis seem to have gotten magical powers and are popping here and there real quick. Almost same speed as cucumbers I would say, just overnight.
zucchini time
The huge and gorgeous flower is withering

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ah crap!

So...the forest plot. I did as much sorting as was possible, then I saw that I had to start chipping cause the "to shred" pile was getting too big, plus the plan said I have to. I figured I would finish the remaining 1/3 later in summer where the plan says "catch up"
All set for a month of chipping
Loaded up the shredder with 5 liters of prime gasoline and started the day. It went pretty smooth, I had to stop once in a while to take a drink or to clean out the blades as they tend to get clogged with debris. It is pretty one sided work and instead of my usual daydreaming, I decided to count how many logs I would be shredding. I did not count the most thin ones which disappeared through the machine in an instant.
I counted up to about 210 when suddenly the machine felt like it was trying hard to stay upright and started shaking more than it normally did. I stopped feeding it and looked inside to see what was wrong.
Oh jeesus
Apparently a bamboo proved to be too strong for the blades and it must have ripped one of the four blade axles right out of its socket and sent it flying god knows where. You can see the force involved that warped the round hole. I was not surprised though... Just a few weeks earlier a much thicker metal sheet was bent in the same machine by bamboo which I had to cut loose. I guess bamboo is stronger that steel... haha.
With 3 blade groups rotating instead of 4, the whole system fell out of balance, hence the shaking. This machine has been one problem after the other and just fallen apart in such short time. I have fixed it as much as I have been able to , but this problem is beyond repair I am afraid. It was literally drawing its last breaths. I forced in maybe 20 more bamboos before it completely died on me.
I got this far.
I had to go home with my tail between my legs and rethink the whole plan....
Rest in pieces. You will not be missed.
I wrote a very polite mail to the company I bought the shredder from and explained what a worthless piece of garbage it had been. Then made a new time plan which did not involve shredding but instead burning everything. Also I removed the beehive part as explained earlier.
THE PLAN.... version 3
I will not have much to do in the summer according to it, which is just as well, because it is hot as hell to do any serious work. First thing to do is to wait until no more bamboo grows out and then cut down north side bamboos. Then wait again until it is not too hot to burn stuff.
I guess I will use my free and waiting time in the summer to fix things in the garden. I was going to buy a midget (dwarf?) apple tree to put next to the plum tree. In the weekend I happened to see that the last apple saplings in the home center were being sold off real real cheap. I know home center saplings are crap but I bought it anyway. I am not even sure if it is a midget or not. I am not even sure if it is self pollinating.
Anyway, I guess we will find out in a few years. Now I have time to clean out the "bush", oh and after I have planted the apple tree, I will use the rest of my time to divide the strawberry field into 3 rows, and also add one more strawberry row in the backyard.
Da boosh

Flowers, bees and other facts of life

More flowers pop up every day in the garden. The biggest ones are the zucchinis. These things are HUGE.
Pretty pretty
They share so much with melons. Same huge flowers, same leafs, even same bugs that eat them. Only difference is they don't climb trellis.
It is one of the garden's sunniest spots so the flowers are happy
The lotus in the mini-pond has bloomed again this year. I guess it means it is here to stay. Actually one more flower is on its way up.
The surrounding of the pond start to look more and more natural
And we even got a rose which opened last week. Extremely fragrant.
This was actually here even before we moved in
All these flowers and others are attracting lots of bees and it got me thinking I should prepare and learn a bit more about bees before putting hives in the forest plot. So I started reading up on the subject and it turns out although they are pretty harmless, people walking by and neighbors in general, not knowing the facts (same as myself) are often afraid and complain. Also there are many who have bee allergy, plus I need to report to the city about apiary on a yearly basis, even if it is one hive for hobby. Their rules are that a hive should be at least 50 meters away from any nearby neighbors or roads etc, which means I need at least a 50 meters wide plot even if I push the hive to the edge to the north. Not having a giant plot (mine is only about 30 meters) I have to forget about keeping bees and postpone the dream to later when I have a big big land. Oh well... one less thing to worry about I guess.
OK, so we have talked about flowers and bees. What other facts of life are there?
Well, the other day I saw that the cats were trying to hatch some eggs I had put on the counter by sitting on them.
Come on... we are hungry
And I think they believed that their sitting gave results. They got a yummy bite of omelette from that.
Just let us know if you need egg sitting again