Monday 29 November 2010

World garden, the best of your garden! My favorite plant now is nochebuena (poinsettia) and yours?

Time for the carnival. I hope we get a lot of nice plants to showcase.


My favorite plant now is nochebuena

First of all want to thank everybody! I started this blog just as a little journal of what my little garden has gone through, but I have gotten such a nice response and a warm welcome from fellow gardeners all around the world, that it have become much more.

I set some goals at the beginning, to be completed on three months. All to decide if I should continue, or if it was just a nice experiment. I hoped to have more than 1000 unique visitors, have one day with over 100 visits, pass the 10$ in advertisement (to cover what the domain costs ), and have 50 followers on Twitter.
I am very happy to say, thanks to you, pretty much all of the got accomplished. This blog is a bit past its three months, and so far we have 1,123 unique visitors, with the day with more visits being November 15 with 112 visits. We also reached the goal for advertisement, and are just two followers shy of 50.

My little garden in japan has grown so much because of your comments and your visits. It is quite an encouragement . I will keep up with this little project and I hope you will continue to follow my journey.
So, once again, thank you very much!

Here is my little attempt to give back to the online community. A little blog carnival so everybody get to know each other and show their beautiful gardens and plants.

Ok, here is my submission to the carnival. I hope is the first of many to come.


My little nochebuena

My favorite plant now is my nochebuena (poinsettia), which I got back when I got the rest of the flowers.

I really like this plant. First, because is native from Mexico, which makes me a little proud; second because it represent this winter holidays, which are one of my favorite seasons; third, and most important, because it makes me remember my garden in México. Back at home, my mom and I used to go get some nochebuenas every winter. They look beautiful at the entrance of our house. It was one of the little traditions of the holidays, one that I sure loved.


My nochebuenas back at home

We tried to keep some to last for next season, but they mostly burn down in the hot days of summer. They are meant to live in the colder weather of south Mexico. There is where they really thrive, I have seen trees of nochebuena (poinsettia) down there.


For my mom, our little tradition

Then, being here in a more tempered weather I had to get some. I also was fascinated by the many kinds of nochebuenas (poinsettias) they have here. They have some pink ones, some shaped like a tree, some mini ones, and some even are sprinkled with glitter.


Pink poinsettias are new to me

I don’t know if mine will last the season, but I certainly hope it does.

Now is your turn, which is your favorite plant?

I disabled the links temporarily to make room for the new carnival. Please wait while I upload the old links into a list.

For the blog carnival, please input a link to one of your posts on the little widget below. Just click the blue button that says add your link, add a comment if you like and let us see which one is your favorite plant.

Saturday 27 November 2010

Blueberries and autumn color in my garden

I got a bit busy this week so I will merge my Friday and Sunday posts into one today.

Ever since I started my garden, I have been wanting to get some type of berry bush, but because I didn't know much about them, and because I couldn't decide what type of berries I wanted, I didn't got any until now.

I chose blueberries after a nice trip to a ブルーベリー食べ放題「たべほうだい」(all you can eat)farm this summer, where we got a nice basket of very delicious berries. Also because, after some research, I found out is easy enough to grow some blueberries in containers, if you get them the proper environment.


Delicious blueberries!

So, finally, I got two nice looking plants at the garden center sale where I got the flowers for blooming day. I already set them to be on their own pot and hopefully they will grow well next year and start giving some berries soon. I will write about what I learned on how to take care of blueberries later, so keep posted.


My new blueberry plants

Along with the blueberries, one more thing also come to my little garden in japan. Some nice autumn colors.

All this past months I have been seeing a lot of very beautiful autumn photos from gardens around the world. They show amazing shades of yellows, reds, silvers, browns and more. I must admit, every time I saw so many beautiful images and plants, I felt a bit left out. Because my little container garden in a balcony doesn’t really have much foliage, and very few of my plants show much changes for autumn, I wasn’t expecting to have much colors for this season. Even my little maple was in bad shape after this summer vacation drought, so I didn't thought it would have much either.


The blueberry had a nice tone of red for autumn

Luckily, with the coming of the blueberries, I got a small hint of red. Some of the lower leaves were already changing, which I thought they look very nice and I even comment on it to the plant (yes, I do speak to the plants some times, I got it from my grandmother, call me crazy but I think it works). That little comment must have hit the pride of the other plants, because that same week some of the leaves of the maple started to change, the same for the grape, which started to get a nice hint of yellow. Just like that autumn had finally arrived to my little balcony garden in japan; Is always so nice when you get a nice surprise from your garden.


My grape got a nice hint of yellow


My little japanese maple, a bit roughed up,
but changing to beautiful colors

Now talking about the blog carnival. Remember it starts the 30th of this month. All you have to do to participate is make a post about your favorite flower, vegetable, bush, tree, cactus, shrub, herb, moss, algae, fern, fruit, root, creeper, climber, grass, weed, bulb or any other plant you love (or more than one if you prefer).

I will post a small widget here that will allow you to input a link to your blog or website. Send me a mail if you need more information. And have a great weekend!

Wednesday 24 November 2010

More winter vegetables to sow

Last time I went to the garden center, during the big sale where I got the flowers for last blooming day, I couldn't help but to peek around the seeds section; They had so many that I would like to try and that are still on season.
So, since I had such an amazing success with my homemade coldbag, I decided to give some more vegetables a try.


New winter veggies

I picked two new green vegetables to sow:
  • Spinach Great vegetable for winter here. Rich in vitamins and minerals. I think It will be a great addition to my veggies. They must be sowed on autumn and continue to grow until early spring. It is funny, I didn't know spinach seeds were so colorful.


Colorful Spinach and Bekana seeds

  • Bekana The Japanese version of the Small Chinese Cabbage. It is Yellowish-green with frilled leaves and white flat petioles. Great for stir-fry or soup. It grows all year round, really fast and very easily. Also, because its small size, it will be simple to grow it in my little balcony. The seeds are very similar to the Komatsuna

I will sow them inside a new coldframe I am working on. I hope they will be as successful as the last seedlings batch.


Stay tunned for the coldframe V2.0

Also, the blog carnival is decided! It will be the 30th of this month.

Be ready to post your favorite flower, vegetable, bush, tree, cactus, shrub, herb, moss, algae, fern, fruit, root, creeper, climber, grass, weed, bulb or any other plant you love (or more than one if you prefer).

Show us the best of your garden, meet fellow gardening bloggers and get some inspiration!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Strawberries in my little garden in japan

If you visit this blog regularly, your probably know strawberries are one of my favorite plants to have, but also one of the most tricky to raise for me.


One of the strawberry pots in my little garden in japan

After some problems with beetles and little setbacks earlier this year, I found myself replacing my strawberry plants. Luckily it all finally seems to be going ok now. The only thing is that, I ended up with so many strawberries that I don't even know what to do with them (not that I complain).

Here are the strawberries varieties I currently have on my little garden in Japan. I found the information about them in the charts at garden center and also doing a little extra reseach.

女峰 (にょほう)Nyohou
From the first replacement batch, and currently on quarantine because the others on that batch got diseased. It got a bit down for some time, but it seems like it will make it. I will get a new shoot out of it and raise that one as the main just to be sure. It is already growing new leafs, so I think it will be ok. This is the same type as my old strawberries; I didn't realize this until after I had bought it. They have a good balance between sweet and acid and they give a big yield with a nice shape and color.


びっくりイチゴ Bikkuriichigo, 宝交早生 Houkouwase
and ひがり小町 Hikarikochou strawberry

宝交早生 (ほうこうわせ) Houkouwase
One of the most hardy of the bunch. It has a soft texture, with a bit of acid taste. It is supposed to be very easy to grow, so I hope it will thrive nicely. It also has the characteristic that it starts giving fruit early and its season last a bit longer.

びっくりイチゴ Bikkuriichigo
The name translates something like "surprising strawberry". The main characteristic of this one is its size but it is also very sweet. It can grow as big as 7 cm. I got it because it will be fun to see how big it gets, doesn't matter if I don’t get many.

アイベリー Love berry
I have tree of this kind. One is a little shoot I rescued from the first batch that got diseased; The others are from the second batch. They came in the same little pot, but I separated them to give them a better chance. It is one of the bests in terms of flavor. Very sweet, good size, nice aroma and a very rich texture. I will treat this one as my main crop. I hope it grows well in my garden.


My three アイベリー Love berry strawberry

章姫 (あきひめ) Akihime
Like the love berry, this one also have very nice flavor and size, but it has a different texture. While the love berry has a firm flesh, this one is more on the soft side.

ひがり小町 (ひがりこちょう) Hikarikochou
A well balanced strawberry, nice shape and color with a lot of sweetness and a strong flavor. It is also very hardy and disease resistant. Because it is one of the most resistant and balanced, this will be my wild card in case something happens.

Also, asking a strawberry guru from the garden center, I found out something about my old ever bearing. Turns out that it was not really one, it was just a lucky struck. Some of the strawberry varieties here in japan (like Akihime, Kunouwase, Nyohou and others from the same family line), sometimes develop ever bearing characteristics. It happens on one or two plants of each fifty or so. What happens is that they just start giving fruit whenever they feel like it, regardless of the season.

They must have some ever bearing genes that kick in now and then, but it is not something planned, is pure luck. I find it to be a very funny trait. I will double cross my fingers and toes so I get lucky again or at least try and get a hold of one of those if I see one ever for sale.


女峰 Nyohou Strawberries from my July harvest

On a different topic. I got some great response about the blog carnival. Based on your comments it will be about a favorite or special plant in your garden. I am not sure if I want to try to make the carnival post a monthly thing, I know for sure I would get tangled with the dates or I might get busy with school. But, I do want to have it now and then. This way more of your favorites will be able to showcase. Because ,like Green Lane Allotments said in the last post's comments, picking only one, it's like asking a parent to choose only one favorite child!

Maybe having one per season, or every couple of months will be ok. That way you get to show your beautiful maple or ginko in November, tulips in April, strawberries in June, etc., etc.

For this first one, because we are starting and also because it is a bit of the down season in gardening, lets make it about any favorite you have. It can be either your favorite for that month or any other month, other year, other life, you pick. Just choose one that you really like.

Now for the date, should it be Sunday 28 or Tuesday 30? Please let me know in the comments.

Happy gardening!

Friday 19 November 2010

Using banana peels as fertilizer for container plants

To ensure all the flowers in my garden will continue to bloom nicely I decided to add a little of fertilizer. But, because I did not wanted to spend much money on specialized fertilizer and also because I prefer to use more natural methods, I choose to go cheap and simple with some good home made plant food. Lucky for me I always enjoy having banana milkshake so I have a lot of banana peels available, great for what I need.


One banana shake fertilizer order coming up!

Many gardeners know the great benefits of using banana peels in the garden as a fertilizer. They are great for helping roses (I used it successfully with my little yellow rose before) and many other plants get more flowers. Bananas are rich in phosphorus and potassium, both of them important macro-nutrients for the plants. Potassium in particular is the responsible for the new formation of flower buds.

The most common method of using them is just cutting them in chunks and burying them around the fresh soil for the plants. However, for us container gardeners, it gets a bit more tricky. We cannot just stuck some peels in our containers because, in such a little space, there is the risk that the decomposition process of the peel would damage the roots of the plants.


Mix the blended peels and eggshell with soil and let it rest

So here is my little trick, since I am already having a banana milkshake, I also make a shake for the plants. All you need to do is toss the leftover peels into the blender, add a little of water ( I sometimes use the left over water from washing rice, it helps even more), and if you want to give it an extra punch, throw in a couple of leftover eggshells. Blend until smooth. When it is done you will end with a not so good looking shake, but the plants will love it. To help the plants assimilate it even better, you can mix it with some soil and let it rest a week.


After a week you get some nice potasium rich soil

I would recommend to be careful with the recipe. Remember, it is fertilizer. Judge well how much to feed to each plant. I did this wrong by mistake last time and I ended up having too many flowers on my peppers, so many that they only gave one single pepper for the whole season.

On I different topic, I have been having such a good response on the blog lately that I want to give something back. I am planning on organizing a blog carnival for the end of the month. Blog carnivals are great, they help beginner or unknown bloggers get discovered, and also help more established blogs get new ideas and inspiration.

I haven't decided on the topic though. It is between, posts showcasing the favorite plant of your garden in that month, or a roundabout of how everything is going on in your garden, sort of like my little monthly update.

Which one would you like to participate in? Any other topic you prefer?

Please let me know what do you think in the comments.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

My red rose

Before continuing on introducing what I got from garden center on last weekend sale, I want to show you another plant I got a bit before. It is my new red rose that I mentioned I got back on the little garden in japan monthly update early this month. 


My red rose all set and ready for next year

As you know I was looking for a red rose because, even though they have been overused for romantic purposes so much that they become bit cliché and corny, I really like them as such. I believe they got to that point because they truly are fitted perfectly for that; They are beautiful and yet a bit dangerous because of the thorns, the petals are very sexy with their silk smooth texture, they make great cutting flowers, and so many other reasons.

Of course for me, a bit of a hopeless romantic, the red rose represents all of this the best, it is a classic that are have stood the test of time and remained as elegant as always. So when I was buying it, I look for the most perfect and vibrant red I could find.

But, I faced a small setback, all the roses at sale were not blooming. They are were stubs meant to be planted and kept dormant for the winter. I had no idea of the real color of the rose would be and it was specially hard to choose, since they were more than twenty kinds of red roses at display.

They did all had photos and a lot of information, like they usually do, but I wanted to be completely sure, I did not wanted to end up buying a pinkish red, or one too purple (which are also beautiful, but not what I wished for). The red I was looking for was a mix between a crimson red, a very sensual set of lips and a true red poppy.


I hope my rose turns out a very nice red

I don’t know much about rose varieties or types, but with a little help from the Internet I decided on a papa meilland rose. Hopefully it will turn out how I imagined it. Now, I got a nice planter for it, and had it all set up. It seems to be doing great. I will continue to cultivate it and hopefully I will have beautiful blooms to give to the girl of my dreams someday.

Sunday 14 November 2010

More flowers for blooming day!

This weekend there was a big sale at the garden center and I could not resist at all. I end up buying a second rack and planter to have even more flowers on my little balcony garden. I also got a bunch of other things, but I will introduce those later.

I set the flowers on their planter today, I hope they continue to grow and bloom even though the weather is getting a bit cold.


When I finished setting them up,
I got a nice sunset for reward

Here is a little list of the flowers I got, and also my other flowers for blooming day.


The new flower pot

I got a bit more of the same, but also some new ones.
  • Stock I found another color that I really like

  • Lemon marigold There was also a chocolate marigold that really smelled like chocolate, but this one is from mexico so it won my heart


The marigold has a very nice minty lemony scent

  • Pansy Some more, to have flowers all winter

  • Nadeshiko(fringed Pink) The season is almost over, but i really like the color

  • Alyssum Can't get enough of the scent


I really like this color of alyssum,
hope I can get some seeds from it

  • Blue ballon scabiosa Very puffy, and with a very nice color too.

As for my other flowers, my geranium is still blooming nicely and I have new flowers from the red geranium


I hope this one will continue blooming in December


New flowers from the red geranium

The globe amaranth, one of my favorite flowers, is also blooming. Although they are starting to dry now, I will try to get some seeds from it for next season.


Globe amaranth is definitely one of my favorites

The other flower pot is still nice. It suffered a bit from some wind last week but still have plenty of color.


The pansies keep growing too


The winter cosmos got a bit bald from the wind but a lot of new buttons are comming

Happy blooming day!


Here are the two flower pots together

Friday 12 November 2010

The seeds sprouted, the coldbag works!

Today, I found some komatsuna and lettuce seedlings already showing enough strength. I plant them last Saturday afternoon and the first ones started poking out from the soil the morning of Wednesday. I'm very surprised they sprouted so fast, I thought they will take at least until next week.


The first sprouts from my coldbag!

I am planning on letting them a bit longer on the coldbag, until they get some more strength. Although not much because they are already fairly tall. I don't want them to reach the top of the bag and get hurt.


Komatsuna is so easy to grow, and very tasty too

The only ones left to come out are the chives. I wonder if they will come out at all, because their season has been over for a while. I'll keep my hopes high though.


Komatsuna and lettuce seedlings

Also here is a picture of the pumpkin seeds I will try next year. I took them out of a little pumpkin I carved for Halloween. I have no idea if the seeds are viable. Sometimes the products they sell are hybrids, so even if they do sprout and grow into a full plant, I have no idea if they will give any new pumpkins at all. It is going to be a fun experiment.


My pumpkin seeds drying with the sun

For now, there is only step one, letting the seeds dry, then store them on one of my seed jars until next year. I hope they succeed.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

My attempt at having a coldframe

Because the weather is getting a bit colder, and I still want to sprout some last seedlings. I decided that It would be a nice project to have my very own cold frame. Of course that with the limitations on space and resources of my little balcony garden, I can't have a proper cold frame, so mine would have to be a cheap and easy knock off version.

To build it I just decided to go with simple and cheap materials. I went to the 100yen shop (the equivalent of a dollar store in japan) and got a plastic fabric bag for clothes, also used a tray that I had bought before from the same place. One more thing, because the fabric bag still lets some air go trough I added an extra layer of plastic to avoid any heat to escape by convection.


My new coldbag!

The good thing about using the tray is that I can easily move the whole contraption inside in at night, if I want them to have an extra amount of heat.


Getting ready to set some new seeds

I got some seeds ready in the colorful started pots from the strawberries, and now just let them be and wait.


All set up, tight and tidy

It seems to be working well. The temperature inside has been one or two degrees higher than outside. Hopefully the seedlings will sprout soon and I will be able to have them ready before is to cold.

I decided to set three different kind of seedlings in it. Komatsuna and lettuce, to replace the ones I already finished on my big lettuce planter, and also chives because I think my garden was missing something from the onion family.


They get a nice amount of sun, to make sure the temperature raises

Hopefully it will work, I will keep posting to let you know how it goes.

Monday 8 November 2010

My lettuce and Komatsuna

One of the good things about having my little balcony garden in japan, is that I have been able to try growing a wide variety of plants. So many different ones that, so far, it has been a continuous exploration and learning experience. I find it very exciting to see how every new part of the garden is doing and see the way each one grows and develops.

The excitement and satisfaction one gets when a plant has sprouted, bloomed or even just got a couple new leafs is, well enough, a very good reward for anyone growing a garden. However, there is one more very nice prize for those who venture on the tricky task of growing edibles. That is, you get to eat something you are completely responsible for. The taste of a fruit, vegetable or anything that you have grown yourself would be much better if it has all your effort, patience and care as a background.


A little of my lettuce and komatsuna harvest.

Since I was a kid, back at my country, my garden has always had some edibles that my family enjoyed happily. I was always happy to pick and eat a papaya or an orange, and I always felt proud and accomplished by having them. But, even though I always had an active role on growing that garden, the main responsibility was always on my mom or my dad. Many times they had to tell me to go water the plants, or pick the lemons that the wind took down, otherwise the plants will dry or the fruit would go wasted.

I think it was not until now, when I have a garden that is only my responsibility, that I have truly understood fully the responsibility and the accomplishment of eating my own grown food. Eating my own strawberries or my own tomato has given me very nice feeling of success that I must recommend everyone to try, at least once in a lifetime.


Only half more to go, It really has been a nice harvest.

One of the experiences I have had with this is growing lettuce and komatsuna. This is the first time I have ever grown lettuce or any greens on any of my gardens, so, mostly my method was a "wing it" approach. Luckily, as always in my garden, they have been growing well, too well in fact. Right now I have two planters so full that I must, either thin out or cut out as soon as possible.

It all started because, in my eager to have a nice harvest, I put too many seeds in the first (the big)planter. They sprouted nicely, and continued growing with no problems, but soon was obvious that they were overcrowding the pot. I didn't wanted to waste any so decided to eat a little at a time to keep them at bay, however my appetite was no match for their fast growing and then the big planter really got out of control.


In here there is plenty of komatsuna and lettuce,
there is even some cilantro too

Now, even when I decided to thin them out, is too late. They grew so much that the leafs got tangled and now is very hard to take one without hurting the next one. I decided the only option is to cut them all and start again. I hope they can still catch the season and I get to reset the big planter.

Also, having learned my lesson a bit to late, I did the same on the second planter, I put too many seeds. Now it is almost at the point of no return, when I must thin out or risk another tangled mess. I will rescue this little planter before that happen.


Salad tastes better when you grow it yourself.
I grew the lettuce, the komatsuna and the basil, I hope someday I will grow the carrot and onion as well.

Still, because I don’t like to waste, I have been having a lot of salad every day. It is no problem, because I don’t get tired of it. It really makes a difference to have truly fresh vegetables. Is not only because they are my own grown, but I have to say, this greens are very good. They are really delicious, flavorful and tender, even the stem tastes great.

Like i said before, I really must recommend to anybody out there thinking about trying some gardening, to just try it, there is nothing like having your very own little garden.

Friday 5 November 2010

My little garden in japan November 2010

We are starting the month, so here is my update on how my little balcony garden has done lately.


My little balcony is more and more crowded every day

With the arrival of November the weather has changed noticeably. The days have shortened quite a bit (the sun sets around 4:30pm). Also, the stormy days are gone, no more wind or rain for some time. And, while it feels more chilly in the morning, there is still enough sun and the average temperature remains perfect for sprouting some last minute crops, getting some nice blooms and just letting all the plants grow nicely and prepare for winter.


This is the herb corner

  • One new thing I have done is I sowed a bunch of new lettuce, komatsuna and chives in starting pots. I will have them growing there for a while and then transplant them to the big vegetables planter. To help them sprout, I made an attempt of building a coldframe. I put together a tray, a fabric bag/box and some sticks. Hopefully the fabric will be enough to keep the heat inside.

  • Also, like I had mentioned before, I wanted to get a red rose to have more flowers and to keep my cliché levels high enough. Well, I did. It is still a stub so no flowers until next year, but it seems pretty healthy so far. I will talk more about it on a later post.


The latest strawberries seem healthy

  • The latest strawberries seem to be doing well (fingers crossed for not jinxing it). I have six varieties now, one of them must make it. For now most of them are scattered around several little planters, but I think I will eventually put some on their old one. I already wash with scalding water and scrub it well, hopefully that will be enough to keep whatever strange thing that happened to the others at bay, but i will still take precautions.


All the herbs are doing great

  • The herbs are doing great! All of them are growing well. I think this is the most prolific part of the garden right now. I just love how the mix of scents gets into the room every time I water them, or also, at night if the window is open enough.


The overcrowded planter of komatsuna, lettuce and
coriander must be thined down

  • The old lettuce pot is still overflowing with green, even when I have been going at them knife first every time I can. They are still more than half full and they have grown so much that they got all tangled.
    Of course I have learned my lesson, Don't overcrowd seeds. I will thin down the other planter before it gets to that level, which will be soon by how they are growing.


The flowers are great! I turn the planter around every couple of days so they get even sun.

  • The maple and the grape show no sign of dropping their leaves or even turning color anytime soon. I guess they still have plenty of sun and not enough cold. I shall wait a bit more.


The geranium has new blooms, I hope they will be ready for
blooming day!

  • The flowers keep on growing well, and blooming nicely. I hope they make it until end of December. Oh, and even the red geranium is getting new flowers, he made a nice recovery from being so pale, I think he liked the company.

All the rest of the plants are doing pretty well. It seems like this days my little garden in japan is a very happy garden.

how is your garden doing lately?
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