Saturday 26 March 2011

My little garden in Japan March 2011

Today was a very long day. I was out all day with my family and had a lot of fun, but running around with a six year old hyper kid, a seven year old little girl and a one year old "starting to run" baby, drained my energy completely. So, I was not on the best mind state to call a bunch of companies and deal with a lot of little mishaps I had. The most frustrating was dealing with my flight's travel itinerary. Turns out that my flight to Tokyo was cancelled because of the problems that Japan has been having with the nuclear plant, the earthquake and the tsunami. I can understand that, it happens. But, the problem is that the new flight they can book for me will have me stranded in Los Angeles airport for one day, and will add six hours to a already long flight. I will end up going in an almost one day and 20 hour flight!

This on top of having my luggage lost on the way to Mexico. Which by the way, happened right after I took some time mid trip and went to the Delta counter to ask if my luggage was doing ok. I had two connections, so I wanted to make sure it will get home with me. I asked, they told me it was on route. I got home, the bag was not there. Definitely not good. And, if I add having to deal with a very unfriendly customer service person from Delta Mexico, this has been the most problematic plane ride I ever had. This time was definitely not the best airline experience.

Well, ok, not much more left to do. There is not a waiting list for a better flight at delta. Oh, and for the record, delta's customer service from tweeter was better, too bad they also weren’t able to help.

Now I will have to take that twenty hour flight, my last hope is to try and see if at least I can get them to let me stay at the delta skyclub to spend the night while in LAX. It would really make my day. Anybody has an idea how to get that?


Spring blooming starts

Anyhow, back to the gardening matters. Hopefully my little garden in Japan will not be dry if the landlord helped me out and watered the plants. If not, it will be a very sad sight when I return. But for now I am still at Mexico, so here is how my little garden in Mexico is doing.


Even in the desert there are a lot of flowers

Here the spring is at full. There are a lot of flowers and life is at full. Perfect for brightening a frustrating day.


Papayas growing among the bugambilia


The aloe starts to flower


The petunias are blooming beautifully


The desert plants start to grow again


The oranges started to grow


And as always, there is a hummingbird in the garden

We have a bunch of new plants because we went to the nursery, but I will let those for a new post. Hope everybody is having a great spring!

Please help japan with a donation or good thoughts.

Help Japan

My best hope for those in Japan. You can help donate here.


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Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011

American Red Cross

International Medical Corps


Donate with Paypal

Sunday 20 March 2011

My Bougainvillea

One of the favorite plants on my garden at Mexico is my Bougainvillea. It is a beautiful bush/tree that blooms and continues growing all year round. Almost everybody compliments on it, and it has been one of the landmarks for our house.


My bugambilia in full bloom

Last time I came to Mexico, I had introduce it. But back then, because we had had some very strong winds that took down a lot of the flowers, I was not able to show it on its full glory. This time I was more lucky and got to take a photo of it on its prime.

We have around ten different plants on the garden. They started as little plants that we put around the outer fence. At one point they took over the whole front and looked amazing, but they grew too thick, so we decided to prune them in a tree form better. Also, at the beginning they had rarely any blooms. But, one time when we were at the garden, we (my father and I) said that it might be good to prune it away, because it didn't seem like flowering much. Since that time it started flowering like crazy to the point that my dad never ever wants to prune it at all.


The other bugambilias are also blooming nicely

The biggest bugambilia (spanish) we have are actually two different plants. They grew so big that they mixed together and made one big bunch. They look amazing all bloomed, we are so happy it decided to flower already. Other thing, after they started blooming so much, my dad started getting cuttings from them and planting more around the house. Now we have one on the sidewalk and others on the back. Even my grandmother has one at her house from our garden. They all seem to be growing nice.

It is a very beautiful plant to have, and I would recommend it to anybody with a big and sunny space to fill.

Please help japan with a donation or good thoughts.

Help Japan

My best hope for those in Japan. You can help donate here.


Google Checkout

Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011

American Red Cross

International Medical Corps


Donate with Paypal

Friday 18 March 2011

The new location of little garden in Japan

I was going to write one more post about japan, the nuclear threat and the problems with the portrayal of the crisis on the media. But I think the best way of helping showing there is no apocalypses in Japan is just going back to normal. Just one important message first.

Please don’t believe all you see on TV! Some big networks are showing things way worst of what they really are.
Look for information directly form Japan and you will see is not chaos, everything is very orderly and calm
The nuclear plant problem is NOT another Chernobyl. It is a Three Mile Island at worst.

If you want to know more, please read this:

Japan is not Chernobyl

Japan earthquake and the irresponsible media

The nuclear problem in Japan explained for a 5 year old

Don't stock on iodide pills. Leave them for those in Japan who really need them

That said, Sendai did have a lot of damage from the Tsunami and people need help, if you can please help them.

Now for gardening matters


My new balcony garden

As you know, right before coming to Mexico (for a vacation I planed months ago, not because I was running away), I moved to a new house. Because of the earthquake the plants had to stay at the apartment a couple more days, so I didn’t had a chance to sort them out or preparing them before leaving, but, in the end I was able to move them all to the new apartment.

I have never move so many plants from one place to another. It was really fun to do. I just wish I could have taken a photo of it because the truck looked like a little flower shop. Also, on the day I returned to the apartment, because I had let all the plants inside, the whole apartment smelled to flowers, and after the moving, so did the truck.


Just a couple broken stalks, but I hope they will recover

There was a little damage from the moving, because some things fell on them while they where on the truck. But, the damage is very small, I am sure they will survive well. Only the stock got hurt badly, but I think if I take good care it will be ok.

The new balcony is great. It is twice as big as the old one, and has a great south light for all day. I think the plants will be very happy living there. I just hope they will do well this days I am away. Is not as hot, and I asked somebody to water them so they should do fine.

I will show you more on how they do, later when I get back. Meanwhile, I will try and keep doing some more how to's any requests?

Please help japan with a donation or good thoughts.

Help Japan

My best hope for those in Japan. You can help donate here.


Google Checkout

Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011

American Red Cross

International Medical Corps


Donate with Paypal

Monday 14 March 2011

2011 Japan Earthquake

As you all probably know by now, this Friday at 14:46 JST an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck Japan. It was a very humbling proof of earth's power. The earthquake was massive; One of the fifth strongest earthquakes in recorded history and the strongest Japan has experienced until now. Together with all its consequences, it has become the worst crisis for Japan since WWII.

Help Japan

First some facts

The main areas affected are close to Sendai, up North Japan, where the earthquake hit the strongest. Thankfully to Japan's very high standards on buildings and the very good regulations on construction, made precisely in case of earthquakes, they suffered relatively few structural damages from the movement. However, the earth's shake brought along a very powerful tsunami. Huge waves roamed along the coasts of all japan, the tallest up to 10 meters high. This tsunami was the one to cause the most damage. Some of the waves traveled several kilometers up the coast destroying a lot of houses and damaging roads and buildings. So far around 2000 people have been reported dead and many others have been injured or reported missing.

Also, as a consequence of the tsunami two nuclear power plants suffered from malfunctions. When the earthquake struck, the power plants shut down automatically, but because of the damage in other areas, the cooling system didn’t had electricity to work properly and there was overheating. This ultimately caused a buildup of chemicals and two small explosions.

Now, I want to say something important. I know there is a lot of misinformation out there and want to help people understand and avoid Panic.

The core of the Nuclear reactor was not compromised!

So far the situation on the nuclear plant has been controlled, and the possibility of a meltdown is low. The accident has been similar to what happened in the Three Mile Island incident in USA.

Now, because of the damages, Japan is experiencing a shortage in electricity and scheduled power downs are happening around Japan. Also, a lot of trains are suspending its services and people are having problems moving around. Supermarkets and other stores are starting to have a small stock shortage, but it seems to be not as bad.

Here in Tokyo things are calm, besides from the delays and public transportation problems life here seems almost normal.

I must say. I am absolutely amazed by the efficiency and the amazing response the Japanese government and a lot of the companies are giving to this disaster. The day of the earthquake the cellphone lines shut down and a lot of areas were left out without electricity. The governments acted immediately and sent help to the affected areas. All over Japan telephone companies made public phones available for free, and some supermarkets give out food to those stranded in train stations or away from home. There were many other displays of preparedness and good decisions.
People was calm, no panic at all. Everywhere I saw it was lots of organization and patience. It was very impressive.

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How it was for me

When it started it was just the familiar dizzy feeling of an earthquake, but as seconds passed it become slightly stronger. I was waiting for the elevator at that moment, and in my mind I started to plan how I would have to wait until it ended before going in and continue carrying things to the truck. I thought it would be just a small shake like we had many in the past. But, the moment the doors opened, the light inside went off. It was then when I knew it wasn’t just a normal small earthquake.

It felt stronger, but I was still able to walk the stairs normally. The whole place felt like it was vibrating, and from the stairs I could see the other buildings around swinging violently. Close to the exit, the glass doors of the building were shaking really hard, and made me wonder if they will break just as I was opening them. Outside the electric poles were swinging hard, making me look at them constantly in case one of the cables snapped. The cars had stopped on the street and many people were just standing there waiting.

Little by little the movement stopped, things calmed down and more people started to walk out of the buildings. Some seemed very anguished, some others were very calm. Some minutes later a replica hit, but it was minimum compared to the first one.

For me, luckily that was as bad as it got. The only problem I had was to have delay of my change of house. I was right on the middle of the moving day when it happened. Half of the things were on the moving truck and the rest was still up on the 10th floor at my old apartment. Because of the earthquake the elevator automatically shut down so I could not continue to move until the next day.

Back in my country, we are not stranger to earthquakes. Mexico City, where I was born, is one of the most susceptible places to seismic movements along with Japan. We had had our disasters in the past as well and we are also trained on what to do on this kind of situations. I also have been in several before, some of them strong enough to make me hold the wall. I think this helped me this time to not get overwhelmed and not get scared.

From what I felt, and what I was able to see at that moment, I thought it had been just a little above the average strong earthquake and everything was ok. We started to wait for the elevator to be available again and continue the moving. Then, while waiting, we saw the news and realized the real magnitude of the earthquake, and we decided to just go to the new house and continue later. It took five hours to get to the new house because of the traffic jam the chaos made. But in the end it was all ok; we were ok, safe and undamaged.

Later watching the news, internet and talking with some friends I also learned that even back in Yokohama it was much worse that I thought. Buildings in my old neighborhood got cracks on the wall, and the supermarket I used to go got its street destroyed. Also, many houses had a lot of things fallen from its place and some even some big furniture tumbled down.

I feel really lucky and grateful. I didn't felt its true strength so for me it wasn't as frightful or shocking as many others felt. And because all was packed and ready to move, there was not even a single broken dish.

I want to thank again everybody for your blessings, encouraging words and good thoughts. It is great having a lot of support and knowing I am cared for.

Thank you very much!

Now I am almost settled down at the new apartment. There is still a few things to do, but they will have to wait until I come back from Mexico. I will be leaving tomorrow and coming back in a couple weeks. I hope everybody here stays safe. We still have a bunch of replicas happening, so, those in Japan please take a lot of care.

If you want to know more about Japan earthquake and this crisis please visit this sites.

Earthquake Updates for foreigners in Japan

2011 Sendai earthquake wikipedia

Official press release

Japanese news

Nuclear power is still a safe option

What is happening at the Nuclear plant in Japan

My best wishes to all of those affected. All my concern is with you

Help Japan

Please help japan with a donation or at least good thoughts.


Google Checkout

Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011

American Red Cross

International Medical Corps


Donate with Paypal

Saturday 12 March 2011

Thank you for your concern!

Everything is ok at my little garden in Japan.

I am well. We didn't had any problems besides the little scare. The main problems were up north and at the coast. But in Yokohama we didn't get much.

I have been off line this week because I was moving to a new apartment. And today I just got Internet connected at the new house. I am still settling up so I will post more later.

Thank you very much for all the mails, the blessings and the good thoughts! Is great having so many caring friends.

My best regards to all those who were affected.

Monday 7 March 2011

Spring is almost here

These past days have been quite a handful. I have to sort out the moving, wrap up everything at school and get ready to go to Mexico, also, it snowed again today. So, I wanted this post to help keep my spirit up and hopefully everyone else along with mine. I got a great response on my flower box post last time, and I also got some mails asking me about all the flowers on my balcony. So here they are, this are the flowers currently blooming on my balcony. May everybody get some spring soon!

Bye the way. I think is about time we have another carnival. How about we make one for early April. I think a spring theme will fit. Maybe on about how to get ready for spring, or about what is going to be in your garden this spring? Any other suggestions?


I really like this purple


I haven't introduced them all, but I will soon


The no-banana-milkshake flower box is recovering


The rosemary is in full bloom


I already started on the shopping spree


The bees are going to love this daisy


The lavender started to open up


Hope you get some spring soon!

Oh! I forgot to put the pantsies, the stock and the alyssum... I will add more photos tomorrow.

Saturday 5 March 2011

A visit to an "all you can eat" strawberry farm in japan いちご狩 食べ放題

Here in japan, they love having "all you can eat" (tabehodai 食べ放題) trips to different farms. They have it for almost everything: strawberries, grapes, blueberries, tangerines, cherries, melon, peaches, sweet potato and many others. It is really fun to see the trips being organized and promoted all around the year as every fruit or plant reaches their season. This time of the year is the season for strawberries (greenhouse raised of course). I was lucky enough to join in one of these ichigo gari (いちご狩) trips this week to a strawberry farm.


I take "All you can eat strawberries" as a personal challenge

For the tour they first give a small explanation about the farm and the berries, and then they tell you the rules of the buffet. They are usually set with a 30 minutes limit and like in most places, you can only eat there, not taking any out. After the explanation they lead us to the green house room where the strawberries are so we can start eating.

To get there we walked trough a greenhouse maze, with big rooms of plants connected with smaller tunnels and little hallways all protected with plastic from the outside weather. I was lucky because our room was on the far side of the farm, so I got to see a bit more of what else they had. On that same farm they had blueberries and grapes, which I am sure they will host their own "all you can eat" (tabehodai 食べ放題) when their season reaches.


It was good learning how the professionals raise strawberries

It was very interesting to see the layout and the arrangement of the greenhouse. As you can see on the photos they plant leeks and similar plants at the borders, probably to protect against aphids and other pests. They also had a beehive on each room, but the bees seem very mild and only mind their own. Other thing is that they water from underneath, so the fruits are very clean, no need to rinse at all before eating.


They had a lot of plants, and many ripe and ready to pick strawberries

Another interesting thing have I noticed here is that many ichigo gari (いちご狩) farms have their plants growing at chest level to help people pick them easier. The one I went, though, was not of this kind. This is because is the strawberries there are not only intended for the "all you can eat", they are a big farm that sends their fruit all over japan, so they grow them from the ground to allow for bigger crops.


They were delicious, I hope mines will be as good

It was a lot of fun, I got full to almost exploit of very delicious strawberries and I also got to see how the professionals handle the plants. I hope my little strawberry baskets will give fruit like this one when their time comes. They were delicious!

Wednesday 2 March 2011

My little garden in japan moves to a new balcony

The past week was all about finding a new house. Housing in Japan is extremely expensive, specially in Tokyo. So, most houses that could suit a garden are way too far from my budget. It was a very big and tiring quest. Finally, after seeing more than 20 different houses, there is one that works perfectly. It is big enough, and it has a nice morning and midday sunlight, just perfect for growing a nice garden.


My little balcony garden in November 2010

I found that the hardest part was finding one that has good sunlight. Most cheap apartments are facing north or are buried deep at the bottom of a group of skyscrapers. Getting one with a big balcony was very troublesome too. Most apartments doesn't even have a balcony, just a little edge to maybe put some plants. There was no way I could fit all my plants in there.


My little balcony garden in December 2010

Luckily the new apartment has everything I need. Is definitely better over all. Bigger, newer and more convenient. And, Is right in the middle of Tokyo, so no more one hour commute. But, there are some things I will miss. The new place is on a second floor, so no more sky rise view, and no more nice sunset, although I will probably will get a nice sunrise, but I don't think I will be awake for that (summer sunrise is around 4am). Also, no more having the garden center 5 minutes away, which, by the way, reminds me that I need to find where to get plants at the new place.


My little balcony garden in January 2011

Hopefully the trade off will be good, being closer to the ground I might get more visits from butterflies and bees; I hardly get any all the way up here. And the bigger balcony is always welcomed. Of course, since I will have more space now, it just means one thing. I will probably will go on a plant shopping spree to fill every spot, and be complaining about not having enough room for more plants very soon. But what else could I do? Not get any more plants? Impossible!


I will miss this sunset

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