Tuesday 28 September 2010

Lettuce sprouts

Back to gardening topics, here is a quick post.

The week after leaving from Tokyo I had sown some lettuce and some komatsuna. I was wondering if it would be able to sprout since those days the weather just started to change, luckily they came out just some days before I left. Right now they continue to grow nicely.

my garden 0071 September 21, 2010

Komatsuna sprouts

I went a little crazy putting to many seeds on the planter, and now I have too many plants, so I will have to thin them out when I get back, but I think is better to have too many plants than less. I hope they keep on surviving these days.


The lettuce and the komatsuna keep on growing nice, a bit too many though

The only problem is that I'm not sure how to do that, should i just pluck out some? or, is there any special method?  any suggestions?

Also, I'm still trying to get around the garden here, I will probably do some work this week. 

Sunday 26 September 2010

My little garden in Japan logo

Today I just wanted to do a little reference about japan and my logo because I have been getting some questions lately, so here is a little explanation. I think my logo came out a bit more subtle that I expected.

My little garden in japan banner is of course a ladybug. But is also a symbol for one of Japan's landmarks.

Torii door

The logo is composed of the very characteristic red sun of japan (japanese draw sun red, not orange or yellow) and a Torii door [鳥居・鳥栖・鶏栖]. A torii door is a traditional Japanese gate commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the sacred to the profane. Also several freestanding doors are located trough japan and are considered landmarks in most of those places.

This is what I was going for

Thanks to those who figure it out!

Also by popular request more photos i have taken of Mexico

mexico 0029 November 16, 2008

mexico 0028 November 02, 2008

mexico 0025 October 30, 2008

mexico 0023 April 14, 2008

mexico 0022 December 23, 2007

mexico 0020 August 25, 2007

Mexico's equivalent to mount Fuji. Ours is called Popocatepetl

mexico 0017 August 05, 2007

mexico 0007 April 08, 2007

mexico 0015 July 30, 2007

mexico 0014 July 01, 2007

House of the dead

mexico 0009 June 20, 2007

mexico 0005 September 29, 2006

mexico 0002 August 10, 2006

mexico 0004 September 27, 2006

Saturday 25 September 2010

My hometown

Hello! Sorry for the absence, this week I traveled back to my home country, and I left with a little rush so I didn’t had time for leaving automatic posts. I'm still at my country, but I'm back in front of the screen.

Being back home is great! I missed my family, is great to be able to spend time with them. I will be here some more relaxing and eating great food.

Ok, several people have asked me, so I would like to say a little more about me. Thank you for your interest guys!

I was born in Mexico City, capital of Mexico, I lived there until I was 5 when we had to move to north Mexico. I lived there most my life until I finish university. Now I am a graduate student of electronic engineering at Tokyo University in Japan. I will live in Japan for a couple more years until I finish and then we will see what is next.

my garden

Beans at my first garden

My family taught me, since I was a kid, to respect and love nature, also they introduce me to gardening. Back when we lived in Mexico city we used to have a garden full of bean plants, they looked huge back then thought my kid eyes. Now here in north Mexico we have also have a big garden full of life.

The garden is a big shaggy since my parents don’t have as much time to take care of it, so I will probably will do some work there in the time I am here. I will let you know how it goes.

I have traveled all around Mexico, it is truly spectacular. The natural beauty and the landscapes mixed with the cultural diversity are amazing.
I highly recommend everybody to visit if they can. You won't be disappointed.

So far I have been very lucky, thanks to this blog, to connect with people all around the world. I think gardening and the love of nature helps people to bond and understand each other. I love my country, its diversity and it has a rich culture. I hope this blog, my garden, and my time in japan will help me even more to learn about different cultures and also to teach about my own.

Keep in touch!

Some fun facts about Mexico
  • Mexico city was the biggest city in the world until some years ago when Tokyo surpass it. /I guess I have a thing for big cities./

  • Mexico is one of the top 5 Megadiverse countries. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's biodiversity.

  • It ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles with 707 known species, second in mammals with 438 species, fourth in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species. Approximately 2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislations.

Some photos from my country, Mexico

Young fisher

mexico 0030 November 16, 2008

mexico 0027 November 01, 2008

mexico 0026 October 31, 2008

mexico 0024 October 30, 2008

mexico 0021 August 25, 2007

mexico 0019 August 11, 2007

mexico 0018 August 05, 2007

Mexican Craft

mexico 0013 June 30, 2007

mexico 0012 June 22, 2007

mexico 0008 June 20, 2007

Red Parrots

mexico 0003 September 19, 2006

mexico 0001 April 30, 2006

Oh also, just if you were wondering, my little garden in japan will be all right, it's being taken care of by very, very good hands.

Sunday 19 September 2010

How to grow tulips

This will be the first time i grow tulips ever. And, since i want my tulips to have successful bloom on my garden next spring, I did a lot of research on the how to take care of them, there is a lot of care and consideration that must be done. 

I wanted to share all I have learned, I hope everyone can find this helpful.

My garden 0070 May 02, 2010


Tulips are one of the most well known bulbs. They are one of the main cutting spring flowers, available in many shapes, sizes and colors. Because of their beauty they have been a prominent feature in many gardens around the world and have been coveted by gardeners for centuries.

Tulips Description

Tulips are perennials bulbous plant from the genus Tulipa, they grow a few leafs at the base and a long stem with a flower at the end. They can be as small as 10 cm or reach a height as much as 70 cm.

They have fleshy, elongated, waxy coated, light to medium green leafs. Their flowers are colorful and attractive cup shaped with six petals.
Tulips are natives of Central Asia in mountainous areas with temperate climates where they have a period of cool dormancy through the winter.

How to grow tulips

Tulips are classified as perennials, but because of the specific requirements of their native weather, tulips are not the easiest plants to grow as such. They do best in climates with long cool springs and early summers, but are often grown as spring blooming annual plantings in warmer areas of the world. They are typically planted from early September to November and bloom from early Spring through late May.

Is best to pick the healthiest bulbs to guaranty a nice bloom, the best bulbs usually are have a thick fresh glossy body with a smooth surface.

Growing tulips as Annuals

Tulips gather energy in their bulb thought their growing season for the next season bloom. Because of this reason store bought tulip bulbs will most times bloom nicely even if they don’t have the best growing conditions, this means tulips can be treated as an annual plant.

Annual tulips can be planted in a planter or directly into the ground. When planting tulips as annuals they must be planted in autumn from mid September to November, when the temperature varies around 15~20°C. It's best to plant them at least 15 cm deep, but they can stand as little as 5 cm. Also, they need space to grow roots, so they must have at least 5 cm of separation between each bulb. Sandy soil with good drainage and rich in organic matter is best.

Water lightly during the first months when they are growing roots and almost none during their dormancy period on the coolest months. Resume watering once the weather starts to warm again.

Their flowers bloom in spring from March to May depending on their type. If the bulbs are to be discarded it can be done once the flower starts to wither. If it will be saved for another season is best to behead after flowering, but allow the remaining leafs to die off naturally. Once all the leafs have dried the bulb can be dug out and stored on a cool and dry place until the next planting season.

Growing tulips as perennials

While having a tulip bulb bloom one year is relatively easy, having one thriving through the years is a more difficult task. Their native growing conditions must be replicated, otherwise the bulbs will slowly degrade and eventually die.

Having the bulb at an adequate depth is essential, so planting directly into the ground is recommended. The bulb must be set at least at 15 cm depth or three times its height. Also the separation between each bulb must be around 15 to 20 cm. The bulbs must be planted in autumn when the average soil temperature is around 15°C. Sandy soil rich in organic matter is best. Good drainage is essential.

Unless the seeds are wanted is best to behead after flowering, this allows the bulb to concentrate on its own recovery and development for next year's bloom and not use energy in the seeds.

If the weather becomes too hot in summer is best to dig the bulbs once all the leafs have dried and store them in a cool and dry place until the next planting season. If the weather is appropriate tulips will continue to bloom continuously over the years without any need to dig them out, but once every few years is recommended to take them out and separate any new bulb formations to avoid overcrowding.

More Tips for growing tulips

  • Bigger bulbs will have the biggest blooms, and the smallest bulbs might not flower at all.

  • Tulips have a very steady height of growth, so if tulips are planted with a difference of depth around 1~2 cm in the ground it will be noticeable when they bloom, this can be used to create interesting arrangements for their display.

  • The tulip bulbs usually have a flat side which helps to determine the direction the leafs will grow, this can also be used to plan ahead the arrangement of the tulip's display.

  • Tulips are lovely with other spring bloomers and with each other. They work well with other bulbs as companions, provided that this other bulbs are smaller and with less space requirements than the tulips.

  • For cutting tulips, only the tulips that are closed but that have color on top above their stems will open, those that are showing no color or are all green will not open when disconnected from the ground.


Tulips are very a resistant plant, however they are several diseases can affect them.
  • Blight causes brown flecks in the leaves, and often turns the plant gray after a few weeks.

  • Gray bulb rot can develop if the bulb is given to much water for too long.

  • Aphids can attack them, but they can be easily contained.

  • Crown rot is a rare kind of rot that causes the bulb and flower to die under the ground.

  • Botrytis tulipae is a major fungal disease affecting tulips, it causes cell death leading to rotten plants.

  • Tulip breaking virus causes a irregular color with spots and stripes on flowers, also, it results in smaller plants.

Classification of Tulips

Tulips have several types of classification.

They are classified based on their blooming time.
Early Flowering Tulips, blooming in March and early April.
Mid season Flowering Tulips blooming in April and early May.
Late Flowering Tulips blooming in May

They also can be classified based on their flower type or their height. Single, Double, Lily-flower, Fringed, Dwarf, Tall, Medium, etc.

My garden 0066 May 02, 2010

Tulips in Yokohama

Tulip trivia

  • They are often associated with Holland, their main cultivating country.

  • Tulips will continue growing after being cut.

  • They have been able to influence the economy of a whole country at one point (tulip mania).

  • Their name is derived from the Ottoman Turkish word "tülbend" which in turn comes from Persian language "dulband" meaning turban.

  • Tulips are considered a symbol of the Ottoman Empire in Europe.

  • There are over 3,000 different registered varieties of cultivated Tulips.

  • Tulip bulbs are replacement for onions when cooking.

Here is the information in pdf how to grow tulips feel free to share it

Thursday 16 September 2010

The tulips are set!

Today it has been quite rainy, I wanted to go to the garden center to see if the strawberries are out, but I guess I will have to wait until this weekend. Still, to fulfill my gardening quota I did work on the balcony a bit. I tidied up, cut some dead branches, checked on the strawberries (they are technically dead, but some green remains so I will wait and hope), and moved things around to make more space. All normal balcony garden work.

tulips for this year

Ready to go to bed

Also, because I have been a little busy this week I hadn't set the tulips yet, so today I finally did it. It was interesting to think they will be all alone there, and I have no way of checking if they are well or not. It Is going to be hard, I think bulbs are hard to grow because they are pure gardening patience.

The tulips are set

Take care tulips, see you next year

I remember when I set the calla lily this year, I got so desperate because they took so long to grow, that I dug a little to check and I broke the tip of a growing stem, fortunately nothing bad happened the calla lily grew with no problem, but still it was a bad idea. I will have to restrain myself very hard to keep me from getting desperate, it will be a great exercise to develop some patience.

Now, my next assignment for the garden will be sow the lettuce and the kalanchoe that I have. I bought the seeds last month, but I haven't sowed them yet. Last week I took my time preparing their bed, I put some fertilizer, stir it around, and gave time so it wont burn the seedlings. It should be safe now, although now I am worried because this days have been much colder, I wonder if it is still cold enough for them to germinate.

My lettuce

My next assigment, to sow the lettuce

I hope they all grow well and I have lettuce for the winter and the tulips give out beautiful flowers next year.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

The garden center

One of my many concerns when I moved to Yokohama from Tokyo was if I would still be able to get any gardening supplies if I needed. Back in Tokyo I lived very close to a discount department store that had a very nice gardening section, also I knew a couple of other places where I could find cheap plants, it was all I needed back then, so I wondered if I would be able to find anything at the new place.

Garden center

They don't let you take photos, but i managed to sneak some out, i will try to get more later

So when I moved here it was a very nice surprise to find out that, very close to my new house in Yokohama, there was a garden center. And not just any center, it is the main office for "Sakata no tane" one of the biggest gardening companies in Japan.

This garden center is big, something very rare in here where all business usually have a lot of space limitations. It is divided in three buildings. The smallest is for parking lot and storage and on the middle size building they have pets. They mostly have fishes and birds, but it is very fun to walk there and see.

The last building is the biggest, they have all the gardening related products there. It is basically a big room where all the equipment are on display plus an open greenhouse attached where all the flowers and most plants are. They usually set the seasonal vegetables or fruits and the sales on display at the secondary entrance, and the flowers on the front door.

Besides that there is a seeds corner, and some seasonal bulbs or vegetable products (like the tulips), also many different kinds of soil and fertilizers, several aisles for pots and planters and some displays for miniature plants. They also have one section only for orchids, a little corner for bonsai, a room for indoor plants, a corner for mountain plants, books and many, many other things.

The garden center

Here thay have all seasonal veggies, and sales

The garden center is one of my favorite trips whenever I feel like stretching my legs, its just a couple minutes away by bike. I usually go a couple times a month, just to see what they have.

If you like gardening and you are ever in Yokohama be sure to pay a visit, there is a lot to see even if you don’t buy anything. I find it very interesting to see how they do gardening here in japan, most things are very familiar but they do have some differences that are nice to see.

Here is the adress if you want to go Sakatanotane サカタのタネ 

Sunday 12 September 2010

My tulips

This weekend I went to the garden center to buy tulips for this year.

Choosing tulips

It was very hard to choose one

I had been wanting to go and buy some all week, and finally in a little free time, I had the chance to go. Last time I went to the garden center I noticed they were getting ready for the tulip season, they had some bulbs out and they were starting to hang flyers for promotions, so I imagined they will have more later on. This time I went they really were all set. They had a nice selection of tulips and many other bulbs.

I don’t have much space on my balcony, so I can't buy that many, but I think I can fit six.

My tulip bulbs for this year

My tulip bulbs for this season

It was really hard to decide what type and color, and at the end I decided for simple ones, some big some small. I got all in different colors, a bit risky in case one of them doesn’t bloom, but is ok. I hope they all make it.

It will be the first time I have tulips, although I've always wanted to have some, but back in my country I could never have them because they would never survive in that heat.

I will set them in these days. Wish everything goes well.

Friday 10 September 2010


Today I finally discovered what happened to my strawberries. Beetles ate them!

Green June Beetle, Cotinis nitida

Beetles ate my strawberries!

I arrived from the garden center today, I had gone there to buy some tulip bulbs, and when I got back and put the things in the garden I discovered a little something crawling happily under one of the strawberry leafs. I look closely and saw that it was a green june beetle larva. I give it a very mean eye it and started to look for more.

I had dealt with green beetles this summer, they ate some of the strawberry flowers and even some of the leaves. It wasn't that big of a problem. I did caught them several times trying to lay eggs on the soil, and I thought I kept them from doing it, but I guess one of them managed to go unnoticed.

My garden 0062 September 10, 2010

I found 10 beetle lava in the soil

I dug all the soil I could around the strawberries and I find ten of them, they seem to be very well developed, not rare since they had plenty of food from all the roots they ate. I will continue to dig around the strawberries to look for them over the next days, maybe I can get them all. I know it's silly, but I don’t want to give up on the strawberries yet. Their particular sweet taste and their ability to give fruit all year round is too special to lose. Now, since it was just beetles, and I caught them, there is a chance, a very, very small chance, that the strawberries will survive. It's much better than cero chance, so I will take it.

My garden 0061 September 10, 2010

Hang in there you can make it

I feel relieved that it's only beetles and not verticillium wilt or other even worst fungus, now at least I know It wasn’t my fault, my watering is good, I did check for beetle eggs every time they dug, but I guess one sneaked up on me. Also in case I can't recover the strawberries I can reuse that pot and soil and the rest of my plants will be free of danger.

Green june beetles are not that dangerous to a garden, they do like to eat fruit and pulpy plants, which can be a problem, and the larva can eat the roots of some plants, but on a normal garden the damage they do is minimal compared to some other pests. However, in my case they were too many in a little container and no other food besides strawberry roots, deadly combination.

My advice to other container gardeners is simple.
Keep an eye open for green beetles, they usually go around early in the morning trying to get food or lay some eggs. And if you see a beetle sized hole that appeared overnight, check for eggs, it just might save your strawberries.

My quest for a ladybug

This summer I had small problem dealing with aphids, they appeared one day and took over my garden. Most were on the strawberries, but later they moved to the calla lily, the roses and the peppers. I managed to get rid of them, but not without some struggle. In the end my best ally were ladybugs.

Tinny ladybug

Ladybugs are great for the garden

When the aphids just appeared I tried to kill them manually, not the best idea, it took too long I could not kill all of them. The problem started to get serious, so I decided I needed some help. Because the strawberries were about to bloom I didn't want to use chemicals or any unnatural to take care of them. I remembered that ladybugs are great aphid eaters (you don’t imagine that such a cute bug could be so voracious, but they certainly are), and figure out they could easily take care of the pest. The only question back then was, where could I find some ladybugs?

Luckily those early days of summer every time I stay up late with the lights on and the window open, at least one (but usually more) little ladybug sneak into the room and try to get cozy next to the light bulbs. The only problem was that early in the morning at the first chance they flew out the window to never been seen again.

So, how could I keep the ladybugs from running away? I did some research on line and I found out a lot of information about how to attract ladybugs and how to release them effectively on the garden. Based on that I figured out I could catch some of those that went in overnight and let them free the next morning with some incentives to stay.

The next night I caught a couple and got them in the fridge to lower their temperature and make them sleepy (don’t worry it doesn't harm them), then the next morning I release them on the strawberries. I had to repeat the process for several days, because they didn't stay long enough to eat all and the aphids keep reproducing.

My ladyfriend

Ladybugs like raisins

I was starting to get frustrated because they didn't finish them all until one day I discovered one of them had laid some eggs. That was perfect, It would be even better than adults, ladybug larvae eats aphids as good as an adult ladybug and they can't fly, so they stay until the job is done. Later that week those eggs hatched and there were some little baby ladybugs roaming around my plants.

My garden June 15, 2010-2

A little ladybug larvae searching for more food

I let them go around freely, I only move them from one site to another whenever they finish all the food in one plant. They ate like crazy and finished all aphids in two days, It was really amazing to see them at work.

One of the best advices I can give to any gardeners is to make friends with the ladybugs. They are one of the best beneficial insects for the garden, they help a lot with pests, a little with pollination, and they are very pretty to look at. I would recommend everybody to make their garden appealing for them.

I think in the future I would make a little ladybug house for my garden, it would help them to have a place to stay over winter, they are pretty easy to make and is always good to count on some lady friends to help with the garden.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...