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helenjp

Growing Japanese food plants & herbs

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Thanks for the thoughts. I wondered if I might get in an early spring sowing for the takana and daikon - we've been having a really mild winter so I suspect the last frost will come early this year, and it might be worth chancing it. The daikon variety was advertised as "All Season"; I wonder if that matters?

I've been poking through GardenWeb and feeling slightly overwhelmed, but I did get a couple of recommendations for books to look into. I'll let you all know how the experiments go.


Jennie

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Helen, I know this is off topic, but do you happen to know the scientific/botanical name for kinmokusei? It used to grow everywhere near Nakayamadera. My googling hasn't come up with a definitive answer.

Thanks.

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osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus

The straight osmanthus fragrans is a less-fragrant WHITE flowered variety.

Apparently they don't set seed and must be cultivated from cuttings...at least, I saw that glancing through a book in a shop, didn't read the whole chapter to find out exactly what the situation was.

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osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus

The straight osmanthus fragrans is a less-fragrant WHITE flowered variety.

Apparently they don't set seed and must be cultivated from cuttings...at least, I saw that  glancing through a book in a shop, didn't read the whole chapter to find out exactly what the situation was.

Thank you.

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I don't think this is the right thread to post this question, but I can't think of any other good one, so I decided to post it here.

How poisonous is tomatin, which is contained in tomato leaves and stems? Some Japanese people eat "wakime" of tomato plants, and I assume that eating them in small quantities does not do any harm to the people eating them. Am I right, Helen?

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From a seed company's website, regarding tomatoes.

"" Toxic Part:  Leaves, vines, and sprouts.

  Symptoms:    Headache, stomach pain, vomiting,

                diarrhea, subnormal temperature,

                and circulatory and respiratory

                depression.""

Tomatine may not be the only alkaloid produced in tomato shoots - I'm not sure. I assume that people are hoping that the axillary shoots contain less alkaloids than mature stems and leaves...but it seems risky. After all, alkaloid contents are notoriously variable (depending on things such as the time of day, for example); and some people are more susceptible than others, especially children.

Alkaloids tend to act on the central nervous system, which is not a good idea! If you're lucky, they'll make you vomit, if not, they just stop your heart and breathing...

However, I ate several nightshade berries when I was a toddler, before kindly offering my mother some, and I lived to tell the tale. Very likely a few very immature tomato shoots won't kill you, but I don't care to experiment!

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Thanks, Helen, for your quick answer. I will copy and paste it to the Gardening thread in the General Food Topics Forums later if you don't mind.

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Chili seeds and seedlings : the current issue of "Yasai-batake" magazine (summer 2006) has a special on chilis. It said that there were details on where to buy seedlings, though a very quick glance didn't reveal that info to me!

Sansho: I was thinking...probably the main reason why it is hard to grow is that it is a slow-growing tree, and we are inclined to over-harvest it. I read somewhere that you should not pick from it yourself the first year, and not give any to friends for 3 years! As far as the plant is concerned, if we pick the leaves the way we pick parsley, it's like using 10,000 notes like paper tissues.

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Hmm, my sansho was sown in September 2005 and emerged 8 months later! Those outside (3 germinated) are about 1cm tall but healthy green; those brought into the greenhouse to germinate are taller (7cm) and with more leaves, but when transplanted outside leaves appear to have been scorched by the sun. Too early to say if these will grow into a tree.

Large (1 mb+) picture at Sansho germinated outside

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Good luck! If your sansho are grown from seed, you've got a good chance. Most sansho in Japan are twigs put into the ground and left to develop roots - of course, these are never as robust as seedling-grown roots, and sansho is particularly prone to root-damage if conditions are too wet or too dry. That sansho seedling photo was beautiful!

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Robinjw13, I did a little googling of the Japanese terms most commonly used for companion planting, but found nothing of interest to you.

Apart from re-runs of English material on companion plants old roses, there doesn't seem to be a good understanding of what we know as companion planting.

One Japanese term used is so close to the word "symbiosis" that readers think of it as just another word for environmentally friendly agriculture which doesn't damage natural earth structure or disturb local insects etc.

Alternatively, the other word used is "mixed cropping", which only refers to planting crops with different growth heights/sunlight needs/growth periods.

I googled the various terms for each of your proposed crops, with terms for germination etc., and found no mention of plants which actively protect or promote the growth of other nearby plants.

As far as germination goes, I think the interest in natural agricultural circles here in Japan is focused more on microbe activity than on the effect of nearby plants.

Companion plants are translated into kyouei sakumotsu 共栄作物. Now I need to learn more about them!

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Thank you for your encouragement Helenjp, and I certainly had no idea that many of the sansho trees in Japan are propagated vegetatively. Incidentally I've had only about 20 seeds germinate out of a few hundred sown (see my avatar for these!).

Kyouei sakumotsu. I'll add it to my list of about 20 Japanese words! Since that 2005 post I've visted some natural agriculture farms in Japan and saw a little that confirms Helenjp's comments. A common combination seems to be winter wheat followed by edamame/daizu; one farmer said this mix left no need for fertilser nor fallow period. The total length of the roots of one wheat plant is apparently several thousand kilometres! A very fine mesh of roots that is very good for the soil.

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I just Wanna bump this becuse I have two gardens ones like 50 meters by 30 Meter and the other one is 5 x 6 yards(My Curry Paste Garden) I was wondering what would be good items to put in to the bigger one to get a feel for japanese plants?

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JasonWW, where do you live (in terms of climate), and what's your gardening environment like? How much sunshine per day, and are your plots garden squares, or shallow containers?)

If you can buy seedlings, Japanese eggplant would be a good thing to try. Unless you have a very long growing season, it would be a bit late to start them from seed now.

How about eda-mame - soybeans grown for eating while the pods are green, like green peas?

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Sorry for being so late well climate is Zone 6 here. I get many diffrent amounts of sunshine pending on which garden. I have about 5 gardens largest is about a 30 meter X 40 meter patch others are around 4 feet X 10 feet and I have a "Garden" which wraps around my house I use for lettuce and salad greens.

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Some comments re: growing Japanese vegetables in the USA in a USDA Zone 6, east coast? midwest? garden

1. edamame: see http://www.news.uiuc.edu/scitips/00/06soytip.html

Have found Gardensoy 01 [ maturity date, Ann Arbor Illinois, Aug 28], GS 31 [sept.10], GS 41 [sept. 21], GS 43 [Oct. 1] to be very useful; can upload additional data on the rest, but not the useful tabular formatting, making for a mess.

From a paper:

"At the University of Illinois, we have made selections from specially breed hybrid populations of these large-seeded soybeans and now have a number of promising vegetable-type soybean lines adapted to Illinois growing conditions. Thirteen varieties, named with the prefix Gardensoy, have been released ranging from early maturing (maturity group 0) to late (group IV). The varieties produce soybeans that range from about 50% to twice as large as the common grain types of soybean grown in Illinois. The tradeoff is lower yield. These vegetable types yield only about 60 to 80% as well as grain types of soybean and therefore are not competitive for production and processing.

The garden type or vegetable soybeans have an optimum harvest period for green pods of just a few days since all the pods on a soybean plant tend to develop together. The advantage of growing several varieties with different maturity dates is longer harvest periods that are spread out to allow several harvest sessions. This may also be accomplished by having several planting dates (estimate 3 days delay in planting for one day delay in harvest but this will vary widely). Like all soybeans these varieties are self-pollinating and true-breeding, and therefore you may let a few plants ripen without picking and use these seeds for next year’s planting.

The best approach to choosing an edamame cultivar is to find cultivars that are appropriate for your growing region. Click here for information on Gardensoy varieties based on tests at Urbana in 2000 to 2002 on average yield of ripe seeds, mature seed size (centigrams per seed), date of maturity (plus maturity group), stem type, plant height, and mature seed composition (protein and oil). "

Richard L. Bernard

Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois

1101 Peabody Drive, Urbana, IL 61801

Tel. 217-333-7279

E- mail: rbernard@uiuc.edu

[ Dr. Bernard is retired, and one of the old-school soy breeders, a living national treasure, [whom unfortunately we do not recognize as such in the US but the Japanese do in their society; am closely involved with soy and legume genetics in a sister university, so the matter is close to my heart!]

Generally, Japanese cvs like Beer Friend sold by Stokes Seeds et al. fail to lie up to their expectations; high intrinsic quality, imperfect adaptation to wide/variable range of US conditions and growing issues of bean beetles/rust etc.

2. Kitazawa Seed Co., Oakland, CA: excellent selection of true Japanese cultivars.

a) eggplant : kamo-nasu --> dense, famous type for frying

b) elongated Japanese types specifically bred for Japanese pickles, also tiny bite sized eggplants.

Some other Japanese cvs. are found as transplants at US garden centers, Ichiban, Tycoon, Millionaire etc. 'Green Goddess', from Sakata Seeds, if found, definitely worth planting.

[ii] non-bunching onions: several types of true negi, incl. overwintering ones in Z6. Sow now. Last ype available at US seed cos. incl Stokes, names such as 'evergreen bunching onions, scallions', etc.

[iii] spinach heat resistant summer cvs; many Western spinch cvs. e.g. Olympia hybrid should be sown Aug. 30 for a grand fall harvest; some specific Western cultivars will overwinter on the east coast [not, perhaps Midwest] with deep mulch/no mice

[iv] cucumbers, Japanese. Available at many US seed companies, sow immediately.

[v] gourds, lagenaria, pickled at very young stage, see recent photo blog. Also, Kabocha/pumpkin. kabocha available at many garden centers, American seed companies; sow immediately.

[vi] daikons, summer, spring, fall; slightly different daylength responses

[vii] greens: extensive array, all the crucifers plus outliers e.g. shungiku/chrysanthemum, mitsuba/trefoil, shisho etc. Specifically, grow cv.Senposai, a cross between a collardtype and a mustard, also available from FEDCO Seeds, Maine; Mizuna, easy, and good for second sowing in September.

Stokes Seeds also has large selection of Asian greens.

[viii] melons, Cucumis melo ( type:inodorus), sweet, Japanese and Korean 'golden' melons. Also, pickling types.

[ix] watermelon, dwarf Yellow Doll, Peace Hybrid, two definitely worth growing, short vines, small fruit, yellow flesh, approx. 75 days from transplant at warm night temp.

[x] tomatoes: large : Odoriko and Momotaro; cherries, Sweet Million and Sunsugar, all Japanese. Last two are available as plants at many garden centers.

[xi] carrot ; Kuroda can be sown end August, and can get a small/decent crop in by Nov.

[xii] snowpeas ; same as carrots. Also can be sown now for green tips alone. Buy seed on sale at garden centers.

Sweet Potatoes: Sandhill Preservation Center, Iowa; Glenn Drowns

Korean Purple: 90 days. (Heirloom Variety) Vining, dark green colored normal leaves, purple skin, white flesh, excellent yields. Very sweet.

Japanese: 90 days. Large, semi-bush, green colored ivy leaf, pink-red skin, pale orange flesh, excellent yields.

That should give you a start on a basic Japanese vegetable garden!! .Happy Gardening!

g


Edited by v. gautam (log)

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Sorry to ask a question regarding yuzu here, but not sure where to ask. How tall does yuzu trees get? I have one in a garden container now (no fruits yet) but want to plant the tree in the ground in the backyard. I'm a bit worried about this tree since some of the leaves are turning yellow and falling.

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Just tearing out door...I believe they can grow to 15 feet and maybe more, but more likley half that.

Since they are hardy, they are often grown in exposed areas and so don't grow to their full height, but in a warm area with rich soil, of course they may surprise you!

Yellow leaves - sounds like chlorosis - use a fertilizer for acid-loving plants or specifically for citrus.

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Thanks Helen. Will give it some citrus fertilizer. Hate to lose this tree since it was such a pain finding it in the US.

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Forgot to ask, is the yellowing and leaf drop recent, or has it been happening all year?

Are the affected leaves shriveled, and do they have any other discolorations? And are they yellowed all over, or spotted/streaked?

Also, are the affected leaves mostly the oldest leaves, and has the tree continued to pop out shoots and new leaves over spring and summer? If so, and if the leaf drop has just been occurring recently (as temperatures drop) then nothing much to worry about.

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It is a recent thing and yellowing, dropping of leaves seem to be with older leaves. My other citrus trees (lime, lemon, orange, tangerine) haven't done this so I was worried. No other discoloration just the leaves going soft, yellowing, and dropping. I did have some new shoots in the spring this year.

Compared to other citrus trees, yuzu leaves are soft. But it has some wickedly long thorns!

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Hi Helen. I had to dig to find this thread.

I have seeds for gobo and am planning to plant them in a soil filled bag. Any tips on their care would be greatly appreciated.

Seems that the only way I will ever taste this is to grow it myself. I also have seeds for Mizuna, Kamatsuma, shiso, Shungiku, and mizuna.

Please warn me if any of these are frost tender or heat sensitive as we are still getting a bit of frost here but will soon get very high temps.

TIA, Barb.

P.S. I did find what you had written earlier and found that the seeds I have are Watanabe so will plan accordingly.

My soil is very heavy with clay and has a layer of hardpan close to the surface hence the bag method seems to easier for.

And a note for Kris: I ordered my seeds from Evergreen seeds. I have ordered a few things from them before and have had very good luck with their seeds.


Edited by BarbaraY (log)

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Clay soil with hardpan...hmmm...

I don't have enough space to try it where I live, and totally different conditions, but in Japan people often resort to dark cunning to grow gobo.

The photos show a "bottomless" bag approach that I think would avoid any worries about poor drainage (gobo likes well-drained soil, despite being a greedy guts). The poster warns that bags need to be tall or the root will divide when it hits the ground. He suggests 90 cm (about 40 inches) tall)

Here's another approach designed to deal with the wet feet problem - the inside of the bed has mountain yam (yama-imo) being trained along drainpipes, while gobo is planted along the outside where the soil is naturally drier. I love this idea - to harvest, you just pull out the stakes and remove the corrugated plastic, your soil collapses, you yank out your vegetables and walk away whistling.

Temperatures: Gobo is tough. It's unlikely to be too hot or cold for gobo. A little dry weather won't hurt it either, though I assume that any root vegetable will do best with consistent if not ample watering.

You could try harvesting the young gobo (salad gobo) at just over the 3 -month mark, when the skins are still young and the flesh tender, or you could wait till it looks gnarlier (like me), after 4-5 months.

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Thanks for the tips, I think the bottomless bag would be best for nt garden.

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I have some yuzu seeds (from fresh fruit) that I have been sprouting a few at a time and trying to grow indoors in pots and outdoors in soil. They get to be a few inches tall, then wither and die.

I am keeping the seeds in the refrigerator and sprouting a few at a time in moist paper towels. The sprouting is working very well. Many seeds produce two or even three plants!

I live in Phoenix, AZ which is the same climate zone as Death Valley. Our soil is very poor, and there is a layer of caliche underneath. The soil and water tend to be alkaline. We get very little rain, but I water carefully and regularly.

I first started with household potting soil, in the planters, but, lately have gone to a mix of sand and manure. The plants in the sand mix live longer, but no plant has ever gotten more than 7 leaves before dying.

I started using gnatrol on the potted plants a month ago, it seemed to help a little. At least we do not have so many gnats now.

In cooler months, I keep the plants indoors all of the time under a bank of grow lights. As it gets warmer they go outside during the day, then they stay outside all day. I have not had any living plants in the heat of summer, yet, so I have no idea how they may handle that. (It's often 115-126F for the whole month of August.)

In most cases, the leaves wilt and then turn brown within a few days.

Here's the odd part. People grow all sorts of citrus here very well. There are huge orange and lemon farms 20 miles from my house. People have grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange and tangelo trees in their yards. I figured that growing yuzu would be fairly easy because we have such a warm climate. It's been super-difficult, and it's very hard to get yuzu fruit here, so I do not know if I will be able to get more seeds if these all die.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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