Thursday 30 June 2011

My little garden in Japan June 2011

I can't believe it is the end of June already, this month went by so fast I couldn't really notice. Here is how my little garden in Japan is doing lately. Summer has really kick in at the garden, and pretty much everything is doing great right now. The balcony is completely green and grown, I can hardly walk among the plants, even though I do pruning regularly they are still overcoming me with so many new leafs.


Hope for more flowers and soon some pumpkins

  • The veggie planters are doing all great! The beans are so full of pods and the pumpkin is ready to give many flowers.

  • The flowerboxes are in a small period of growth with not many flowers because I just got the pansies out and new plants in, but I am expecting a lot of new blooms soon.

  • Finally I have some strawberries in the garden. This year because of April's vacation drought my strawberries lost their strength and most of them probably won't give any fruit for the season, however a couple of them did manage to put some flowers and now they are getting ready to be eaten.


Finally, delicious strawberries

  • The blueberries are growing more and more, I can't wait to august for them to be ready.

  • The tomatoes are completely covered with fruit, and If I count both the mini tomatoes and the big tomatoes I have more than 100 fruits getting more and more ripe every day. It is going to be an amazing summer for them.


The tomatoes keep growing and growing

  • The calla lilies keep on flowering. I discovered five different kinds among them, It is going to be so great next year when they bloom more properly.

  • The rest of the plants, with very few exceptions are doing well.


My little garden in japan is all full of green this summer

And last, the butterflies are all grown, but more about that later.

Monday 27 June 2011

Raising butterflies!

A couple weeks ago, after seeing most of the plants a bit down because of the change of season, I decided on renewing the plants on the flower boxes, but, when I was about to take away the pansies, I noticed it had four caterpillars living happily and eating all. I had no heart to kill them, and after a bit of thought I decided to keep them until they change to butterflies. I think it will be fun to see them grow.


Some small caterpillars from my garden

Back at my country I used to have a small "ranch" of swallowtails. Every year for sure, a bunch of butterflies used to lay eggs on the orange tree at the back yard. I would collect the newborns and bring them inside to a netting box I made, there I kept on feeding them until they turn to pupa and eventually to butterflies. Once they had become butterflies I had them in the house for a bit and then I release them in the yard. It was a small but very prolific farm were I got to have up to 32 butterflies growing at once.


These caterpillars eat pansies like crazy

I had to stop having that small swallowtail butterfly farm some years ago because I didn't have time to keep them and also because after some ants established in that tree the baby caterpillars didn't had a chance to be born there anymore. But, I enjoyed those times a lot, and I had always wanted to try again. Maybe with these caterpillars I will be able to start a new little farm. It is really cool having them growing and flying around.


Here they are on their first small feeding box

I had them on a small box and feed them the pansies on my garden, but they soon outgrow that and now I have made them a cage of their own. I also have been picking out some more caterpillars from around and now they are 15 of them. I hope most of them will make it to butterfly form. Back when I had the swallowtails I had a success rate of 100% with every small caterpillar eventually turning to butterfly, but I am not sure if these ones will do as good.


This is one of the swallowtails from back home

To be honest, I am not sure what kind they are, or even if they are butterflies at all. For all I knew they can be moths or even some crazy beetle. They do look like leopard butterflies (Argyreus hyperbius), but I can only know for sure once they hatch. Hopefully they are something nice, and I will have the chance to keep growing them every year. Any idea what they might be?

Monday 13 June 2011

The calla lilies are blooming

This year I have a lot of calla lilies growing in the garden, and they all seem to be growing very well. I have my old and reliable batch of pink callas that started from a single plant, and now also a bunch of assorted different colored ones.


Now I have a lot of colors for the calla lily

Seeing so many flowers is great, because I wasn't expecting many calla flowers this summer. I had a small hiccup early this year when the bulbs I stored indoors started sprouting in mid winter. I took them out to sleep once again, but I thought that they will lose their strength and give very few flowers when the season came.


The pink ones are blooming nicely

Also, I wasn't expecting many flowers from the new plants. When I got those they were just a batch of unhealthy looking and very small bulbs. I had no idea what colors or types they were, just that they were different. My plan was to grow them for a year and to let them gain strength, then on the next season I would see what colors I got and plan accordingly.


This yellow calla lily was a nice surprise

So, I am very happy to see many nice callas blooming. The pinks are doing well, and from the new ones I got three different colors so far, but there are other 3 plants that I think will bloom too.

I usually let flowers be at the garden and not cut them from the plant, but occasionally I like taking a couple blooms in the house just to enjoy having them inside too. The calla lilies are great for that because they make amazing cut flowers. They last long, look very good and the plant recovers very well from plucking some blooms.


Calla lilies make great cut flowers

I think they look great on a bottle of wine, what do you think?

Saturday 11 June 2011

My pineapple

Back at Mexico city, when my grandfather was still with us, he used to grow an amazing roof top balcony. He and my grandma grew a lot of plants. They had roses, chilies, strawberries, grapes and many other great things. Actually I started growing strawberries and grapes here because eating them at his garden Is a very happy memory of my childhood. However I think the most amazing and surprising plant he ever grew was a pineapple. Mexico city is a very cold place, it is high in the mountains and is not the most sunny city. Also, even though it doesn't snow, the winters are very cold, a couple degrees under cero. So growing a pineapple there fully outdoors is very hard. I still remember how some people said that it would not be able to grow any fruit, but in the end it did, and it was delicious.


I started growing two pineapple tops

Then, along with my grape and my strawberries, I want to grow a pineapple in memory of my grandpa. I would feel very proud if I succeed.

Pineapples are a bit expensive here to be buying them often, so I have limited chances. But lucky me I got my hands on a really good one a month ago, and another one this week. I have both growing directly into soil in small pots. Hopefully the hot weather will let them grow some roots. So far they seem to be well. The one from a month ago seems like is rooting already, but it is still very soon to tell.


Hopefully they will grow well

I had already tried growing one last autumn, but the winter was to much for it and it didn't make it. I am hoping that this time, since I am starting them much earlier they will gain enough strength to survive. If they do, I really have no idea what will I do with two grown pineapples, but I still wanted to give it a try. Growing pineapples from tops is a long commitment, so there will be plenty of time to decide.


And give delicious pineapples in the future

I will be posting how they do, wish me luck

Monday 6 June 2011

Splitting the Maple trees

With summer arriving here in my little garden in japan the temperature is increasing noticeably. For most of the plants the extra heat is great, but for some the hot weather means stress, and that can lead to diseases or other problems. Maple trees usually thrive in the warm temperatures of Tokyo's summer, but, because my little maple tree pot was growing four different trees, I was worried the heat would be too much for them. Last year they got sick and I almost got no show for the autumn. So, to give them a better chance, I decided to split them.


The maple pot was getting a bit crowded

My initial plan last year was to choose the prettiest one after autumn and just cut away all the others, but when the time came I had no heart to kill the rest of the plants, and so they keep on growing. I should had split them in early spring, when they where on they dormant state and before they sprouted back to life, but out of procrastination I didn't. When spring came they all got new leaves and the pot started to be a bit overcrowded. Something had to be done but I didn't want to kill anyone.


They were four maples growing in that pot

Finally, last month I took some time to split the maple tree planter and put each plant into its own. I had to wait until then for the spring sprouts to gain strength to avoid hurting the plant even more, but of course that also meant I would had to deal with more tangled roots at the time of separating them. It was a risk either way.

It was a mesh of tangled roots

I opened up the pot and dealt with the mesh of tangled roots. They had grown very close together, to the point it was very hard to know where one tree started and the other one ended. It took me a while and I had to snip away a couple of roots, but I was able to split them apart. After the transplant the trees got a bit stunned and stopped growing, luckily seems that the worst was just a couple scorched leaves.



These are my favorites, they looks great in autumn

Now I am sure they will do very well this summer, and I wont have to worry about them getting sick or dry. The only thing is that I have no idea what will I do with four trees in such a small balcony. Maybe I will turn a couple into bonsai, I have always wanted a maple bonsai.


Only a couple of scorched leaves to regret

So, while everything ended up ok, my gardening lesson of the day was to avoid procrastination (seems to be a lesson I keep trying to learn). I could have avoided loosing half a year of growth and those scorched leaves if I had done the transplants in early spring. But well, that is gardening, you learn every day.
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