Thursday, July 7, 2011

Space for a Cucumber

Gardening in Japan has proven to be mostly about raking maple leaves in the fall, cutting bamboo stalks year round, pulling bamboo runners, and other myriad clean up tasks. It rains so much in the summer that every patch is covered in green and everything grows quickly. I can see why there are many summer festivals in Japan giving thanks for the rain for the rice.

Our yard is extremely shaded in the summer so little sunlight penetrates to grow the flowers and herbs I would like to have. Two years ago I bought a hydroponic planter which resulted in plants growing in my house along with a lot of bugs who happily roosted in the greenery. Last year I gave up, thinking that at least it was my last year in Japan- ha! Here I am still and so this year I got it into my head to plant something in our parking lot- it is very sunny since the old cherry tree was removed last year. I had to dig up some weeds and pull out old roots, but it gave us a small patch to garden along the fence.

The parking spot is about twenty-five yards from our house, and the ground is marked off with rope exactly where the car needs to be parked. There is not much extra space, but one of our spots is next to a small fence with a pie wedge bit of earth. Before you buy a car in Japan, you must first prove to the local Police Department that you have enough space to park your car. I had to complete a form that included the make and model of the car along with a map of the parking spot- it came with the house rental contract. I turned in the application and waited the requisite three days. In the meantime, a police officer came out to view and measure the spot- with a tape measure and a motorcycle. Amazing until you consider how little free space there is here. I always marvel that Japan is in a population nose-dive; there are so many people. I knew if I could plant something in the sun and with all of that rain something just might grow even if it was only a sliver of a garden.

The Easter Bunny brought the Mule & the Moose sunflower seeds. The Easter Bunny can't read Japanese and did not know how big the particular seeds purchased would grow. This photo is a picture of the sunflower seeds- they are taller than my husband now, and they block out the sunlight for the tomatoes and cucumbers we also planted to grow along the fence. I harvested our second cucumber today. I am impressed that the cucumbers are growing in such a small space. It made me think about how much life just thrives if you give it a little bit of space. I probably will always have a small garden, but even a little bit of cultivated plant life makes me happy. That I can eat it, is even better.

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