After nearly 20 years in big Tokyo I was feeling burned out in my not-so-successful "career" in the service industry, knocking on several after a chance discovery of cheap old farmhouses we set out towards the countryside - but still close enough for my wife to further pursue her working live, commuting by Shinkansen while I would take care of the house and kids and build my own little cafe at home...
Our first bump came when we realized that the bank wasn't willing to give a loan for an old rundown house on some worthless property in the "Hinterland". So, we changed plans and will be building a new house. We already bought the plot last year, with about 400 square meters size, and I have started the vegetable garden beforehand, next project will be the garden house.

03 June, 2011

Gardening day

Yesterday was my day off, and same since April on off-days, it was bad weather. Not only "bad" as in cloudy or rainy, but also as in "cold!". Mainly for that reason it took me quite a while to get out of the cold house into the cold outside. The other reason was that the weather forecast suggested a turn to the good from midday, but that remained wishful thinking. The thing about living high up (950 m) is that when bad weather hits, you are surrounded by fluffy, cold, misty, clouds, you are inside them, not below. Thus the temperature stays about the same from early morning until evening, because no sunshine comes through. But just driving down to our land next village, the situation changed: it was still rainy and cold, but below the clouds...not much better to be outside, but still not as depressing because you could actually see farther than just 50 meters.
So I hit my potato plants which had grown rather unattended, did the thinning while "removing" a few bugs, than put some mineral fertilizer besides the plants and shoveled some earth on it, creating those potato ridges I remember back from my days growing up on the North German country side...albeit a bit smaller in size.
Fresh dark earth not only smells beautiful, but also looks beautiful, especially when it is surrounded by lots of green ... weeds! The green square is where I planted some caraway seeds. Of course it was fresh, dark earth when I seeded them, but it seems these seeds take time to germinate, and I have not the faintest idea which one are weeds and which one are caraway, also I did plant them in a row, so that should make them recognizable. Just hope they make it in time before the weeds grow too big.
In front of that is a row of red radish, called in Japanese "hatsuka daikon" 20-days radish for their speed of growing. Okay, they are not that fast, but still, it really does take not long to grow into something eatable size. This was my second time to collect the bigger ones, also some of them had already given in to the long period of rain and had split in half. I harvested a few handful and there is still a lot left for next week.
The black earth in the front row indicates where I planted a few... spinach, thats it. I actually had intended to plant carrots, but there was too much gravel still left in the earth and I am not a fan of octopus-like creatures holding onto stones growing in my earth and since it had started to rain rather steadily on my back, pressured for time, I went for the above-earth seeds. For the markers I again used my weather-proof yet natural bamboo sticks, recycled from my wife's Kendo Shinai (bamboo swords) which become soft and dull after too much powerful hitting each other. They are actually recycled recycles, because I first used them for my potatoes, but since those are bigger now than the surrounding weeds I have confidence that I will distinguish them even without markers. 
The main reason that there is so much green is of course that getting rid of all the weeds would leave the earth open to the elements of wind and rain, so it is a kind of "protection" actually. Not to mention that it would take me about 8 days a week to keep them weeds off and would result in a big heap of torn-out weeds in the middle of the property raising  upwards.

Lots and lots of (unwanted) green. And the Mulberry tree is doing nicely, too, thank you. This autumn though I will go to it again with my saw, cutting it back again while trying to put some shape into it.

Well, looks like somebody totally overslept the fact that this is not a dirt-trail anymore but a real road! Okay, actually not yet finished, because a road is supposed to be at least 4 meters wide, and this one is only 3 meters, because someone at town didn't inform one of the property owners about their plans and thus they are still in the talks as to how much to pay to this person to go 1 m closer to his house, which is already very close, because it's the north side and their lot is a bit smaller than ours, to widen the road to a safe-by-law width. As for me, this might as well take some years, so I can enjoy the view of the fields to the back, which will be turned into housing property once this connecting road is fit to be called such and not just a gravel-track with a weed growing in the middle of it.

In the evening I enjoyed the fruits of my labor and some more, because it  isn't really that much yet....! Having said that, the radish and leaf salad tasted great, with some boiled chicken thrown in and a vinaigrette (because French always sounds delicious and ups the level) made of sour-plum "ume" juice that had been sitting in my fridge for quite some time unused but now found it's destination-to-be, some Aceto Balsamico for the sweetness, and rape seed oil. And, spotting the "Italian" written on the plate, I grated some hardened Parmesano cheese on top of it. Goes great with the "お疲れ様/Otsukaresama/Feierabend/After-work beer.

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