Growing Pains: A vegetable patch in Japan!

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All the tenants of the government housing in Namiki, Tuskuba city are entitled to have their own small strip of land allocated for cultivating. When this came in our way, we did not have a clue of what to do with this! Then someone suggested why not grow some vegetables. In panic, I checked the web -- our unfailing savior these days for some suggestions. There were no specifics on how to grow vegetables in Tsukuba city!, but there were a number of sites with good suggestions on how to start.

We decided that we need fast results with least efforts; don't want to spend too much time tending crops and want to have something that is a bit difficult to buy at green grocers. We went for the following:

  1. Lettuce: Though not really expensive, it comes in large quantities and half goes to waste after buying. Further, there are real horror stories about pesticide use!
  2. Basil: We love Pesto Genovese, but it's hard to find large quantities of basil for reasonable prices in Japan.
  3. Tomatoes: Simply they are said to grow well with Basil.
  4. Habanero peppers: Hard to find.

Starting off

Lettuce after two months of seeding
Cow dung compost.

We bought 40 liters of cow dung compost based mixture and used almost all of it on roughly 2 sq.m plot. Simply mixed with existing soil after removing the weeds.

We bought seeds that come in small packets. (several ml of seed of each type.) Lettuce and Basil seeds were mixed together and spread over the soil. Peppers and tomatoes were covered about 1cm deep.

The idea was to have a variety of crops growing together in a cluster. The basil variety was the one called Sweet Basil. There were at least three (or four?) varieties of lettuce in the seed mix.

Results: Phase I

Lettuce grew fast. Within ten days there were small seedlings all over the patch and after three weeks they were easily recognizable as different lettuce types. Within five-six weeks we were eating the first salads.

Presently we harvest lettuce leaves almost every day and there seems to be more than enough for that.

Initially the basil seedlings did not come out. However, recently we saw that the basil plants have started to come out of the lettuce patch.

Initially, there were no pests. However, now we have started to notice number of caterpillars eating through tender leaves.

Green leaf
Read leaf
Romaine lettuce
Basil plant with catepillar holes
A Culprit?