Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First summer produce

So far this year we've had rain at least once a week, often more, interspersed with sunny days. This has been most beneficial for growing.

Today I was in charge of my own lunch, so I took my little basket into the garden and picked myself a 'sallet'. I had 'asparagus lettuce' which is a fantastically productive cut-and-come-again variety. I planted three, and we've eaten vast bowl-fulls of it for weeks now. I also cut some peppery nasturtium leaves (which the rest of my family refuse to eat for their own irrational reasons), and some Italian parsley. The first tomatoes had ripened and not split open in the rain, so I got a few of those. I had already plucked my first couple of cucumbers and they were in the fridge. I chopped one of the onions that had failed to grow into a proper one. These are often the object of unkind comments when first brought in from the garden, but for adding a certain je ne sais quoi to a salad, they have their uses. I must say I felt a little bit twee photographing my wicker basket while thinking hey-nonny-nonny things about 'sallets', but the first pickings of summer are very satisfying nonetheless.

Other good things include a pumpkin, an aubergine, and some peppers. These formed the basis of a nice early summer curry this evening. Either the pumpkin isn't a very flavoursome variety, or I just failed to feed it the right things, but it was little on the bland side. I'm hoping that my American heirloom sugar pumpkin will be more tasty. It's coming along a storm. And this year, I'm doing a better job of controlling the weeds (nothing clever, just more time spent picking them), so I'm definitely expecting good things.

One of several firsts this year was garlic. My friend assured me, "Even an idiot can grow garlic", and he was right. Each little clove miraculously turned into a bulb, without much more than mulch and a bit of weeding. The 'farmer's shelter' thoughtfully by our builder Hidaka-san really comes into its own for curing garlic.

The rice paddies are now mostly flooded and the rice seedling have been planted. The frogs are making an absolutely stunning racket, especially at night. Sunsets in the spring are not generally very photogenic, but the hotter weather is bringing something a bit more interesting to look at.

I heard today that Kadota-san of Khome's, who we asked to make a plan for our house, has died in a car accident. This is very sad news. Kadota-san was a talented architect, and a charming person. He will be missed by many people.


Anonymous said...

Hello, Mr.Rod !
One morning, my wife was weeding her garden and happened to cut a small weed. Immediately after that, she felt uneasy and dug up about the weed, where she found the seed of an avocado which she bought to eat last year hoping it might bud next year. Oh, my God ! (or her God?) I felt like show how she was disappointed to see the mistake of herself then. In any way, we learnt that the seed of an avocado produced in Japan proved to be able to bud if it is lucky enough. Please see our Blog. http://miyauchihifuka.blogspot.com/
from inchoudon

Rod said...

Oh no, how awful! I fully sympathise.

Actually I had an 'avocado' experience the other day too. I was turning over my compost and found a number of big round seeds with luscious, exotic-looking leaves sprouting from them. Blimey, avocados at last!, I thought, and ran around the garden preparing compost holes to plant them in. Only after I had planted two in great excitement did I look carefully at the third one. Whereupon I found that they were sato imo which nobody in our family likes much. Much chastened, I went around the garden pulling them up again. I'm afraid there are many disappointments involved in growing avocados.

And in the spring, my friend in Suwa sent me some seeds from America. One was a red Hmong cucumber which I duly potted and left in the garden. It sprouted into a weird frond-like thing which I planted. I also made a bamboo frame for it to climb. But it wouldn't climb, nor flower, although it got quite big. Then I noticed similar plants coming up in other parts of the garden where I had not planted Hmong cucumbers. I was lavishing love and care on a common weed! My Hmong cucumber was a changeling!

Can we stomach another anecdote?
In my first allotment in the mountains of Idai, I planted broad beans (soramame). A few weeks later, I found lush green leaves poking out of the ground, and thought Ugh!, look at these gross mountain weeds and started pulling them up and throwing them into the valley. Then I noticed that they were in nice tidy rows. I noticed this after I had pulled up about five plants. Doh.

We ignorant people should stick to things we know about, like translation, and the dermis.