Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another garden post

This blog may yet become more monothematic than it was when I was climbing Iwaki every weekend. The pass time in question is gardening. No, I should say hardcore gardening. Yep, gardening has gotten wild up at Canwick plots with no end of cut-throat action and drama. Read on for details.

P.S. I have to practise my Japanese for mingling with the in-laws this summer, hence the funny writing below each picture.


Aki taking in some rays


Grass gone wild and my two sinks


Three different types of squash: Hokkaido, uchiki kuri and bonbon


Looking into the greenhouse, the seedlings are growing steadily

ズッキー二:黄色か、緑色か、ドッチになるかな 。。。

Our courgettes (above) haven't fared very well so far this year. I didn't harden them off though, which is proving to be a very important part of plant husbandry in my experience. We've got more, as the photo here suggests, so there will be more chances. Thing is, I can't remember which ones are green and which ones are yellow...

これは茄子だ まだまだですね  トマトも茄子と同様に育てる

I was given this aubergine plant by my mum. I'm treating it much the same as I would a tomato plant, keeping it in the greenhouse throughout the season though. With my tomatoes I'm keeping some in the ground inside the greenhouse and some outside in pots. I'm pumped to see how they differ in terms of productivity!!

サヤインゲンは他の豆の種類よりも大好きですよ ー 今年はいっぱい育てる予定なんです

Well, I wasn't impressed with their capital city's transport system, but their beans are top notch!! I have plans for two good rows of French beans, but they are slow to grow which naturally makes one anxious. The last couple of days have been good for the beans, being nice and warm, but we need more!!

唐辛子とパプリカが温室の中にある、良く育つ様に 。。。

Sweet and hot peppers, both need the heat they can enjoy inside the greenhouse. Last year's plants didn't fruit successfully because we planted them outside. By the time the fruits got going the temperature dropped and they died.

長ネギのジャングルだ もうちょっとしたら庭に植えるけどしばらくはスペースがない!!

A jungle of leeks, waiting patiently to go outside to their final growing spots. Got to wait till they're the size of pencils though, which shouldn't be long.

植木鉢に植えたイチゴ 。。。イチゴ畑もあるんだけどすぺーすがないからね

Strawberries among the strongest looking plants on the plot. Two plants potted and the other eight in a bed of their own.

彰ちゃんが作ったモグラの墓 。。。五匹が寝ている 。。。ごめんねモグラちゃん

Grave of the moles, wherein five poor souls lay.

美術的な彰ちゃんね 。。。

Aki was the thoughtful one here, and using her creativity she made them a home


Brassicas on the right, various on the left. In fact, I haven't managed to get the main crop on the left yet. It was meant to be sweet corn, but my first batch has shown serious weaknesses. They are dropping like flies.


The calabrese is coming on well. I have a lot of hope pinned on my brassicas this year so I'm keeping a very close eye on them. They've been visited briefly by the slugs but I've gotten some organic slug pellets and they seem to be doing the job. I have some rhubarb tea brewing for them as well to keep away the white fly and cabbage whites.


Badboy sprouts looking healthy. Eight plants should see us through the winter. No doubt we'll have some poor performers though, so who knows.

これはね、パースニップという野菜ですよ。形はニンジンみたいに見えるし 味は霜が降りると甘くなります

I've got two grades of parsnip on the go. The standard grade, which are pictured, are in the ground and are currently in need of thinning. The high grade parsnips are planted in long terracotta cylinders. They are being hosted by good quality compost and nothing else. They compete with nothing else in their environment and have a loose, smooth root potential of about 60cm - 70cm in the longer cylinders. This, hopefully, will produce some long, straight, sweet-tasting roots.


Lovely bit of chives, flowering at present

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blood on my Spade

Pak Choi, poorly grown.

I had a new experience today. I intentionally killed an animal for the first time in my life. It gave me a desperate feeling that I don't want to experience again.

Garlic, growing well despite the rich soil.

I've been successful lately, with the mole traps that we put down, and there had been three clean trappings prior to this morning. I was really fuming though because the first thing I noticed was the complete mess that had been made of my most recent sowings of French Beans. It was the moles again, and this time they had been through both of the lines I'd sowed. There was nothing for me to see in the traps right next to all the carnage they had made, which means they had got off scott free. I re-set the traps and watered them, which encourages the moles to come looking for juicy worms.

Trapping is a very detached form of pest control. If it all goes to plan you shouldn't have to be there at the point when the animal dies. I like it that way because I'm not the kind of person who can stomach the hands-on killing of an animal. I'd wondered what I might do if I came across a trap where the mole was still alive, but hadn't really considered how stressful it might be to deal with it.

My potatoes are looking good; I have no beef killing slugs.

I later checked the traps over on the potato bed. My potatoes are not too much of a concern, since they are deep and don't require watering that often even with the dry weather we've had lately, but I have one trap over there which George set a while back. As I walked over I could see there had been some sort of activity because the ground was broken up around the trap. I looked inside, and before I even saw it move I sensed that it was probably still alive. It was trapped just below the stomach and trying it's hardest to get away. I panicked really, and wondered whether I was going to have to wring it's neck or something to finish it off. I quickly had the second thought of using a hard, heavy object to knock it over the head with. Anything to avoid putting my hands around it's soft body and breaking it's poor neck. I really didn't fancy the prospect of that at all. I got a piece of wood and whacked it over the head. Thankfully it stopped moving almost immediately.

That was distressing, but not as bad as what came shortly after. About half an hour later I was sat in the greenhouse which looks onto the legumes bed (aka molesville). I was potting some back-up runner beans when a thought ran through my mind. I thought 'wouldn't it be coincidental if I were to look up right now and spot some movement in the soil'. And upon glancing at the far right corner of the bed that's exactly what I saw. I had to make a dash for it because the moles' activity in this area has ruined pretty much everything, and I knew that this was a prime opportunity to sort things out. I grabbed the garden fork from just outside the greenhouse door and carefully approached the moving soil in order not to scare him away. I lashed the fork right into the spot where I thought he was and when I pulled it out there was a mole impaled on one of the prongs with a line of blood dripping to the floor. I instantly felt disgusted, and was in a panic again when I realised it was still alive and wriggling. I had to slide it off the prong with my foot and try to whack it over the head with the side of the fork. It was messy, and I missed his head a couple of times, giving him what must have been excruciating blows to his frail little body. I felt sick, but I got him on target at last and he died.

I looked down and noticed I had blood all over my garden fork. Was what I had done right? Was it justifiable because I wanted more beans this year? I'll probably end up throwing half of them away, or get sick of them and let them go all stringy. The blood on my fork said that it wasn't, but I felt relief once I'd calmed down and transported the poor sod to his place of rest. We have five moles buried by the shed door, in an area that Aki has coined 'mogura san no haka'. This was meant as 'the grave of Mr. Mole', but what she really should've written on the little tombstone she made was 'mogura no bochi' meaning 'the cemetery of the moles'. I never realised there was so many down there.

Aki and I, on a happy day when the moles were nowhere to be seen.

Only another 71 days until Japan!! Aki pointed that out to me yesterday in the pub. Roll on July.